I think most of us are over scheduled, over stimulated, starved for sleep and exhausted. And I'm not just talking about adults. I'm talking about our kids.
Yesterday, I was watching a Facebook discussion about homework. The parent of a 5th grader, whose child was coming home with 4 hours of homework (after a full, seven hour day of middle school) asked, 'How much homework is too much?
Well, after a 7 hour work day (and that's what school is, a child's work day) I think four hours is too much. I don't know any adult who would not be exhausted and resentful at an 11 hour workday. So why would an adult impose those same draconian hours on a young child?
People need down time, to be left alone to rest, play, dream, think, crunch on a glass of slushy ice and loll around on the couch. And guess what, folks!
Children are people too.
But children are generally pressured in this country to hurry up and succeed….that word, succeed: I hear it, read it, see it, all the time. Parents, teachers and politicians, they all want our children to succeed.
Which begs a deceptively simple question: What is success?
I'm going to hazard a guess here. When parents, educators and politicians say they want kids to 'succeed', I think what they really mean is that they want kids to hurry up, strive and compete, get into a top college, secure a high paying job, make a lot of money, buy a big house, climb the corporate ladder and ultimately, make mommy and daddy proud.
In other words, they think of education as an economic investment, a commercial product, something you buy now and sell later, at a profit.
And therein, I think, lies the fundamental problem and source of dissatisfaction with public education as it stands in this country today. Until we value education for its own sake, not because it will 'pay off' in the future, but simply because it expands the individual and brings joy to every heart, mind and soul it touches, I predict that our educational results are going to be lousy. Our children will feel brow beaten and exhausted; they will view school and learning in general as odious labor; and most sadly, they will miss out on the priceless joy of having a well educated mind.
I like to quote Mommy Jean. That's what we called my mother. Mommy Jean was a farm girl from Sugar Tree, Tennessee. She came to work in Oak Ridge in 1944. It was the era of the Manhattan Project and she was 19.
Mommy Jean was very, very smart, a wide reader and astute, but she didn't go to college; she only had a high school diploma.
She did, however, want a good education for both of her girls. I can see her standing in the kitchen now, dish rag in hand, exhorting my sister and me, "Get yourselves a good education!" NO ONE can ever take that away from you!"
And we did. Both Anita and I have post graduate degrees. I've never made a lot of money so I suppose a lot of people would say that I've not had a successful life. But in my own eyes, I am successful.
I love and am loved. I've raised two fine young men. I do creative work that I consider 'right effort' and I hope makes a positive difference in the world. I am well educated and, as I have said before, other than my family (and dog), nothing in life has given me more pleasure than the life of my own well educated mind.
These are my opinions. Take what you like, leave the rest.
As always, I ask you to share Dogwood Daughter with someone else today. I have no advertising, just word of mouth from kind folks like you. Thanks.
Be well and good luck,