Educationally Amazed

I wonder if my mom was as amazed at my schoolwork as I am at my kids’. Probably she was, though for different reasons. Most of hers was probably because she only finished the eighth grade and my father 9th, though he did get his GED some time later. I wonder if she felt the same semi-flush of embarrassment when she filled out forms requesting “level of education” that I do when I have to check the High School grad box – no college degree or even partial. But that’s another column. . .

I am convinced that my children are getting a better education than I did. Not because I had bad schooling (go Vallivue Falcons!) but because the world has opened up so much.

I sit in silent awe as my high school Junior waxes poetic on the philosophies of people I’ve never heard of and terms like antithesis, thesis and synthesis with his father, ideas that my husband studied in his college classes. My eighth grade middle schooler amazes me as he whips through his geometry homework that I struggled to complete in 10th grade 32 years ago. Watching him research the effects of the September 11th terrorist attacks in preparation for a two page typed report makes me search my fading memory for when I wrote that kind of report, I know it was certainly not in junior high (as we called it). My fourth grader takes delight in explaining the definitions of subjects and predicates to her father and I– oh and by the way, did you know the wrinkles on your brain are called dendrites?

I hear a lot these days about how far behind our public school education system is globally, and I think that’s true by various measurements. I know that education isn’t equal in this country – just ask any family that has had to move their kids from state to state (and sometimes just city to city) and they’ll tell you. Along with the many advantages that developing technology has brought, it has also created new challenges. Too many students (and even many of their teachers) delight in the acquisition of information – but stop short of learning what to do with it.

But in spite of all these negatives, I see tons of positives. Great strides are made by those who decide to take advantage of the opportunities before them. No longer do we treat children as if they couldn’t possibly learn hard things. I see the bar raised, and children consistently reach it with thoughtful, nurturing teachers and supportive parents. I see students being challenged in many different ways to develop, no matter what their learning style.

I am amazed and grateful for what my kids are learning, the world is open before them.

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