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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

You what?!


'Tis the season where the mamas are kinda getting stressed with the pressure of school. We're on overload with book reports and science projects and counting down the days to summer vacation.  Can I get an amen?  Maybe it's the spring fever talking, but I don't think it's something more.  My viewpoints on schools, education and achievement for my children have changed.  7 kiddos later, 47 classroom assignments and even more teachers than that, my thoughts have come full circle to a place I never thought I'd be.

I was one of those students that didn't have to try very hard.  I made pretty good grades and didn't have to work really hard at it.  An occasional B.  I was by no means "gifted."  Truth be told, I was (and still am) quite lazy and was quick to learn the little tricks that make getting good grades not only possible but easier.  I could figure out what questions were going to be on the test and what information was useless.  Tooting my own horn for a sec, I was a good test taker, and I graduated college Suma Cum Laude with 2 bachelor's degrees.

Papa on the other hand, had quite a different educational path.  He's smart.  Like scary smart.  He didn't like school much, and I am sure this fact wasn't lost on his parents who read many report cards that said their son wasn't achieving to his potential.  I think Papa was lucky to be promoted to the next grade on several occasions.  None of it was due to his intelligence.  'Cause like I said, amidst all his academic questionableness, (gotta let that education shine through with that word choice!) he was tested multiple times and discovered his incredible unfulfilled potential.  Papa and I went to high school and college together and had several classes together in both.  Papa would be the first to admit that a special someone (me!) drug his unwilling butt to many classes and often found herself "helping" him with assignments and projects.  As God as my witness... what this boy (turn man) did to pass classes, and eventually graduate from college (and sometimes barely) was... hmmmmm... not the normal way the rest of us did it and certainly not in any syllabus.

So based on parents with these two backgrounds, the following may be unlikely.
Maybe shocking.
And likely highly unpopular.
Y'all may not think very highly of me afterwards. 
It's something that frankly surprised me.  And if you know me, and know where I come from and where I've been, you might be surprised to hear me say it.

I don't think education is all that important.  There I said it!
I don't think education is all that important.  And I don't think being smart is the end all be all.  Or really even that critical.
I don't think education is all that important.   Important yes.  But THAT important?  The important that our culture puts on it?  The importance that I put on it?  No.  Not the importance that I see my community around me making it.  And not as important as we all tend to make it out to be.

When Sunny was born, okay even before that, I was pretty sure I could control shape my children's destiny.  Just the right recipe of reading, quality time, nutritious foods, the best schools, a good night's rest, the right words at the right time and I could direct her path.  When she was a babe, I started looking at preschools early.  Looking for the best one out there for my girl because she deserved nothing less than the best!  I wanted her to learn her numbers and colors and letters as soon as possible.  I taught her to read before kindergarten.  I eventually chose a grade school for Sunny (and most of her siblings that followed) that puts a priority on academics.  I had visions of a child that would regularly make honor roll and would easily test into gifted programs.

And none of that is necessarily wrong.  There is nothing wrong with honors programs and a child excelling.  There's nothing wrong with wanting the best for a child.

But now that I've watched this journey come full circle, a child come and this same child now gone, I've come to a very different and opposite view point.

It's just that there are things that are so much more important than an A on a test or being on the Principal's List.  There are actually a LOT of things that are more important!  Like character.  And morals.  And grace.  And loving and being loved.  And service.  And helping your little brother learn to tie his shoes.  And realizing that your sick sister needs a box a tissues next to her bed before she does.  Like learning how to cohabitate in a family where everyone gives some of themselves to make the other better.  And not shirking away from hard stuff.  Learning the beauty of sacrifice.  Knowing when to ask for help... and doing it!  And trying new things even if it's scary.  And knowing you can depend on someone... and be vulnerable.  Building up a toolbox full of techniques to use when it's hard.  And how amazingly big and small the world is all at the same time.  And seeing how gorgeous a hand is in yours.  And smell of rain.  And trusting in the Lord with all of your being.
You know... God stuff.

I could go on and on and on about what we've decided to make a priority for our kiddos.  So maybe it's a C on a test and a child that has a vision about not living in her world, but being a part of her world and making it a better place.
Maybe it's a child that forgets to turn in his homework {regularly} but has a character that others are naturally drawn to and would do anything to help another.
Perhaps the honor roll isn't really a possibility, but goal setting, ambition, and follow through are.
I'll take that.  I'll take that any day of the week.

Maybe at this point in the post you're yelling at the computer screen saying Can't we have both?  And that's the thing.  I don't think so.  I don't really think we can value and preach both and do both justice at the same time.  Everything around us already places an amazingly high priory on this pedestal that we have placed education and thus accomplishment on, and it only diminishes the importance of the other.  If we put a priority on too many things, we dilute the importance of all of them!  I want my children to know what is truly important in the long run and instill the ability for them to instinctively reach for character and service over accomplishment.

Okay, getting off the soapbox now.  Feel free to disagree.  It's what makes the world go around.

Back to pretty pictures.

11 comments:

  1. And all God's people said AMEN! <3

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  2. I think you're right. There's more to life than what you know to pass a math test. I have one child who skipped a grade, takes advanced classes and is still bored out of his mind and at 7th grade is starting to hate school. I'm struggling to make sure he cares enough to keep himself going. My youngest is a sweet artist who likes school but struggles with academics. She would be the first person to soothe a crying baby or help me around the house. Do I think her education is important? Yes. I do want her to go to college. Is it what's most important? No I'd don't think so. I think her finding happiness and being a good person matters more than how many math problems she can finish in 3 minutes. Both of my kids have compassion, kindness and wicked senses of humor. That matters more to me than them bringing home straight A's. I think you'll find a lot people agree with you!

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  3. Yes, yes and yes. I needed this today and have bookmarked it to reread often.
    Thank you

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  4. I'm very glad that you wrote this. As one who has planned and schemed to control... er... shape, I meant to say... his daughter's life, I have to make myself remember that being a decent, happy human being is a little more important than all A's, all the time, or being class valedictorian for four out of four at a Southern Ivy university.

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  5. As Theodore Roosevelt's father was known to say, "Take care of your morals first, your health second, and your studies third."

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  6. AMEN!!! I've said it before and I will continue to say it. School is highly over rated!! :)

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  7. My husband and I are at odds on this one! I feel like we should give our children the best opportunities, but ultimately it is them that has to want it! My husband on the other hand is an educator and wants all his children to be rocket scientist who graduate from Ivy League schools. He wants me to be a tiger mom, but I don't have it in me to be constantly fighting my children.

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  8. Great post. I've worked in public schools for 22 years and only now that my daughter is a Kindergartener do I realize how unimportant school really is in the "grand scheme." I want her to be everything you mentioned, and want her to be happy, which she will be if all the rest is in place.

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  9. Thought provoking! I am just reading "Give them Grace" by Elyse Fitzpatrick and I think it would resonate with you :) "Get ready to be dazzled by the love of Jesus…and freed from the covenant of works that most parents suffer under." I need to constantly be reminded that it is absolutely not about performance, whether that be acedemics or moral "goodness."

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  10. I completely agree and I think exactly the same!!!!!!!!!! Yes, school/education is important, but not THAT important. God bless you!!

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