I suspect you can't expect those who look at our schools to be
positively impressed. It is probably like asking thinking and
thoughtful parents of a 20 or 25 year old man if they think he is
terrific. It seems that most of the time one or both parents will
have complaints. He is too much like his dad or his grandfather or he
isn't enough like them. He is too roughhewn or too much of a dandy,
too interested in music or money. He doesn't eat his vegetables or he
drinks too much beer.
It is easy to find something to complain about the young (or the old
or the middle-aged, for that matter) but with the young, we pay good
money, well, money in any event, to have them schooled. Imperfections
and underdevelopments are the school's fault, right? People care about
their children and take responsibility for them, especially for their
positive qualities. Frequently, I tend to feel that my son's positive
sides are inherited from his wonderful dad, maybe some from his
mother. Troubles, dropped stitches, weak math skills, holes in his
knowledge of history -- that stuff probably came from having poor
teachers. A British legislator recently stated his opinion that
dyslexia is the result of poor instruction.
It isn't difficult to concoct a version of schooling failure for any
trouble at any point in an individual's life. We have had a tendency
to blame a person's mother for personal or other difficulties
throughout life and a similar tendency can give schools a thumbs down
for difficulties in the life of graduates. If your child is doing
pretty well in school, congratulations. If not, work with your child
to find ways to improve but don't overdo it.
It is a secret that very little in today's curriculum is really
essential for a good life. Pick any subject or skill and you can
probably find adults who lack it but are doing well in life. After
schooling, most people have or find a few things to concentrate on,
whether it is dance or journalism or carpentry. What occupies people
throughout life may or may not have been taught or even introduced in
school. It is usually far more valuable to keep your eye on the
child's strengths and your love and support for that child than his
ability to name the members of Lincoln's cabinet.
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