Monday, August 4, 2008

School and Schooling


I'm currently reading Your Child's Strengths, by Jenifer Fox. It's been fascinating, especially for a former schoolteacher and a mom whose daughter is headed to high school this year (!!). It's brought up a LOT of discussion, too, between me and my Sweet Husband about what we want for our kids.

When we were dating, he expressed his assumption that his kids would be homeschooled. I like the idea of homeschooling, but I also was enamored of Montessori when our older child went there for four years, and persuaded him that it would be the right choice for all our kids. I still believe that, and hope that it's an option for our children, especially since I am a firm believer that the idea of sending our kids to private school over public to "protect" them from the evils of the world is a myth, and there's just as much scary stuff in private schools as in public.

Reading this book makes me rethink ALL of it, and saying that is hard for me, when for nearly ten years I was a devoted classroom teacher. All these tests, this whole ingrained attitude that our kids have weaknesses that must be repaired but a willful ignorance of the strengths our kids possess that must also be nurtured. Have I bought into the idea of homeschooling? No, but largely because I suspect I lack the patience--my temper would need to be MUCH mellower before I thought I could swing school for three all-day-long. Do I still believe in Montessori? More than ever, and hope we can find a teacher as good as my dughter's was--and there's the tough part, since public schools are beginning to institute "Montessori" programs where the teachers have little training and do not share the Montessori philosophy.

Fox writes about a change in perspective--very nearly a change in world view--that's necessary for us to offer our children the inner ability to direct their own learning, something that has always been important but is becoming more and more essential now that the internet has made much of traditional American schooling practically irrelevant.

I don't write much here about ideas that are touchy or polarizing, but this book has taken over, and it seems to be all I think about lately--does our school system even WORK anymore?? And how on earth do we FIX it?