Three weeks ago my over-achieving high-school freshman was in tears. Not because of social embarrassment or even because she failed a test, but because she has a B in Honors Geometry. (The fact that I got a D in regular geometry in 10th grade was no consolation to her.) This was not hysterical drama related tears, she was wracked with internal pain because math has never been so difficult for her and she wants that “A.” Not to mention she was completing a project for Honors English on “The Odyssey,” as well as another paper on an outside reading project for that same class, her Honors Biology class uses a college textbook and she plays the violin, volunteers and has a sport – by her choice. I’ve pleaded with her to drop the Honors Geometry class but the system has already gotten to her and she spouted off all of the reasons why she needed these classes in order to stay on track for an opportunity at a great college. She’s also reminded me that the “good colleges” expect a sport and/or participation in a musical club and community service! Later that week I had to take her to the doctor because she had a headache for 4 days that wasn’t going away. The diagnosis — tension headaches due to stress.
I left the doctor’s office thinking, “what have I don’t wrong?” And I have been grappling with that until last night when I had the privilege of screening “Race to Nowhere” (www.racetonowhere.com) and if you have the opportunity to view it–do so, or be proactive and bring it to your community. I watched this and realized that it’s not just my kid, I didn’t do anything wrong, but it’s time I be a part of doing something “right.” My younger child is blessed to be in a whole-child education based public school but my daughter is not, and like so many I had resigned myself to feeling like I just needed to do my best to help her develop coping skills.
It is not often that I write about a product or movie, but rarely am I moved to a point of being speechless either. After seeing this movie I know there is so much more I can do as a parent, as a human, as a fellow bright light. Our education system is in trouble and we are all responsible for making it better. My friends, it is going to take a village to make a difference; but we can, and our world will be better for it. The next “super-power” country isn’t going to have only the most brilliant minds, it will have a society based on compassion, free-thinking, creativity and intelligence that’s been allowed to expand.
We all need to be a part of the solution in order for things to change. As parents we need to be OK if our kids DON’T have homework. We need to realize that each of our children are different and different schools or teachers may be in order for each child. We need to set the example and show our kids how to be happy, have fun and take time for personal healing. We need to remember that some of the most influential people of our time have little or no college education so putting off college, going to a Jr. college or even dropping out does not equal failure.
Let’s be OK with who our kids are in their hearts and capitalize on that by giving them opportunities that help them grow as beings not just as a brain. I know we will all be amazed at the progress our society makes if we do this.