Monday, April 23, 2012

Asking the right questions about education and "Weekly Inspiration - Facing Failure"

Listening to the radio today, I heard a reference to a story about a woman in Texas who purchased a billboard for her daughter for prom queen. This sparked a discussion about parenting today. They discussed the way some parents are living vicariously through their children and also how many young children’s sports are doing away with score keeping. If you have ever watched the reality shows Toddlers and Tiaras, Dance Moms, or Big and Rich Texas, you can see the lengths people will go to turn their kids into stars, athletes, or pageant queens. Parents will shove their children right out of childhood and at the same time go to great lengths to shield their children from failure. The result can be a scary combination of emotionally-handicapped miniature adults with a lack of imagination or sense of responsibility.

All of this discussion really got me thinking about kids in our society today. At one time, society had much more clearly defined roles that guided the way people lived. In an ever-changing globalized society supposedly marked by a postmodern lack of guiding principles, how do the roles of child, parent, and educator get defined? As an educator, how many times have you been frustrated because a parent basically expected you to both educate their child and parent them as well? Educators have the ability to make the world of difference in a child’s life, but if a child by 5th grade or 7th grade or 10th grade has not been taught right from wrong or common courtesy, how do we teach those things on top of everything else that is expected to be taught?

Education is one of those topics that everyone seems to have an opinion or a solution. Everyone has an answer, but are we asking the right questions? I was visiting my grandparents and family in Orlando this weekend and had some interesting discussions on education. Education is important in my dad’s family, and as someone who has taught and loves learning I absolutely believe in the importance of a good education. At the same time, are academic lessons enough? In one discussion, I expressed frustration that with most colleges you can graduate with a business degree with a good overview of business, but no skills to help you land and keep a job. To really be successful, you need to know how to write a resume and cover letter, how to interview and follow up, how to manage time and prioritize, and how to deal with people. Are academic skills enough or do we need life skills as well? Where are kids to learn these life skills? Is it the role of parent or educator or both? Can a teacher in a few hours a day make up for the life-skills not being taught at home? Some parents go too far, but some parents do not go far enough.

I’m not sure I have the answers, but I do think as a society we need to focus on asking the right questions before assuming we have the solution.

Here is what I do believe kids need as part of their education from parents and educators:
A sense of right and wrong
Treat others the way you want to be treated
To be thankful and have hope
To be respectful but not a doormat
Learn to accept the consequences of choices you make and live with them
The ability to read
The ability to do math and work through it even when it is hard
The ability to think critically
The ability to make choices and be creative
To ask good questions, but also the ability to believe with faith
Learn to form your own opinions and support them.
The ability to work within a structure
The ability to manage your time and personal space
To be flexible and adaptable
The ability to work with others
To be able to be alone
To understand the world around you
To foster an appreciation for history, economics, government, and geography – to prepare people to become thinking citizens capable of forming their own opinions.
To embrace technology but not always believe everything we are exposed to at face value.
To fall and get back up again
To accept disappointment and failure with grace and dignity, but at the same time be motivated to come back harder, stronger – winner.
To know the satisfaction in earning it instead of just being handed it.

In correlation with the above thoughts, my weekly writing inspiration will focus on facing failure and making choices:

Quotes: I found many quotes I liked this week.  Click on the link to the left to download Freebie posters of these quotes:

"The successful man will profit from his mistakes and try again in a different way."― Dale Carnegie

“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” ― Albert Einstein

“The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one.” ― Elbert Hubbard

“Mistakes are the growing pains of wisdom.” ― William Jordan

"As I said there is nothing wrong with failing. Pick yourself up and try it again. You never are going to know how good you really are until you go out and face failure." ―Henry Kravis

“The greatest barrier to success is the fear of failure.” ―Sven Goran Eriksson

“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.” ―Colin Powell

“I didn't fail the test, I just found 100 ways to do it wrong.” ―Benjamin Franklin

Poem: “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost

I have always loved this poem. I would discuss the imagery of this poem. This is a great poem to talk about extended metaphor and the meaning of the poem. What is the road not taken? What does it mean to take the road less traveled? When we reach a fork in the road, how do we decide which path to take?

Picture: At the end of a road...

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