Sunday, June 26, 2011

Parents need to take back their right to parent

If I had one wish it would be to slow down time.  It’s approaching the middle of summer, I have a graduate class beginning next week, another one after that and I’m finding myself wishing the world would just take a breather.  I’m loving getting to know my own kids again (even though they fight about the dumbest things) without the distraction of a mound of papers waiting to be graded on my dinning room table.  I’m loving chatting with friends on the deck without the clutter of school politics clouding our conversations and I’m loving the laughter.

Like so many other teachers, summer gives me (as well as my children) a chance to breathe, clear my mind, work on curriculum and gather the strength to create a momentum that has to last 10 months straight, because teaching isn’t just about throwing content into a crowd, hoping some of the kids will catch it.  You’ve always got to be “on” and ready for the emotional and intellectual roller coaster that every school year brings.

Teaching comes from the heart and so every single day during the school year I take 120 plus students home with me, along with their grading, student/parent correspondence, lesson plan writing and rewriting; let’s not forget the constant political and social battles we’ve been forced to contend with and the overwhelmingly negative press that has come to define education.  I’ve never been able to master “just turning it off” when I come home; so once May comes, it’s my turn to be a mom and a full-time one at that, which brings me to a point of serious internal conflict: extending the school year. 

Extending the school year makes sense. Our children will become more competitive globally because the gap will be lessened between educational periods; thus, our nation will thrive and everything—including the economy—will turn around…right? This is where I’m stuck, because I’m not so sure extending the time our kids are in school is the answer. 

When did it become the government’s job to provide babysitters, to act as our children’s parents and to potentially take away so many precious hours from families who hardly see each other as it is? Again, I’m stuck, but I think a solution may exist in reclaiming our families and our time. I understand that most families have dual incomes and some are struggling to even make it, but as a nation, have we sold out our families in pursuit of what has become the materialistic nature of the American Dream?  Even writing about this fills me with conflict, but my instincts are telling me it may be time, at least for me, to re-prioritize.  

As parents we should be actively teaching our kids by picking up where their teachers left off at the end of the school year.  As it stands the government is sending the message that parents can’t be trusted with their own children’s education and consequently, America’s children must spend more and more time in the classroom.  There are so many levels to this conversation that I’m simply skimming over and even over-simplifying (because there's too much content for one blog), I know; however, before we know it the government will be raising our children, not us, and that terrifies me.

Teachers should not be expected to raise our children and the government should not be allowed to assume the role as parent.  The only way we’re going to fix our “educational crisis” is by starting at home, carving out more family time and by making learning fun and a part of our children’s everyday lives.  

I’d love to hear your ideas, concerns and start a discussion.  

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