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Friday, June 06, 2008

Words from a Teacher

The school year is over now for just about everyone, and since I spend a lot of time teaching high school kids, I thought I would write a bit about what I have observed over the past nine months, and offer a little unsolicited advice to parents.

These thoughts all started when a friend of mine, who is a youth minister in a large church, asked me what I thought about the state of kids and their education. He had noticed some disturbing tendencies in his youth group, and wanted the input of a teacher to either confirm his thoughts or prove him wrong.

Here is what I observed:

1. Kids are ridiculously over scheduled, micro-managed and over parented. They are involved in too many extra curricular activities. They are bustled around to the point that they fall asleep in the back seat on the way to soccer practice, having just left ballet. Parents throw money at every conceivable group activity, driving kids to the brink of exhaustion and feeding a multi-billion dollar industry of uniform, equipment and league fees that is making adults rich, and causing children to be burned out before they hit puberty.

2. It's ok not to get an A. So often I see students who are driven to excel to the point that they lose their own identity. It's not the end of the world if Junior doesn't get into Hahvahd, Stanford, Princeton AND Yale. I went to a state school in Indiana and will put my career and life up against any Ivy Leaguer. I didn't turn out so bad, and neither will Junior.

3. Let the kid's interests be the kid's. Just because Junior shows an interest in rockets, doesn't mean that parents need to throw tons of money at sending him to NASA camp. Maybe the kid just wants to watch birds! You don't need to buy him an aviary. I heard one poignant quote from a ten year old just yesterday: "Why do grown ups have to mess up everything!?" 'Nuff said.

4. It's summer. Give the kids a break. They busted their little butts for nine months making Mama proud. Let 'em be kids. No enforced bedtimes for a few weeks. No prescribed reading lists. No league sports. How about an old fashioned pickup baseball game in the back yard, with Dad as pitcher?

5. Here's one for Dads. Your son's sports career is his, not yours. If you want to be a star athlete, join a bowling league or the company softball team, but for God's sake, let your kid play his own game. This means keeping your hole shut at the game when you're pissed at the referee or umpire. It also means that you cheer when the kid does well, and you act SUPPORTIVE not CRITICAL when he doesn't. You help him with his golf swing or his curve ball, you don't bitch at him from the bleachers. Get it?

I hope everyone has a great, relaxing, safe and happy summer.


hildigunnur said...

Amen to that!

hildigunnur said...

and hey, I've got a blog in English now, here, if you'd care to take a look :D

Magdeline said...

Hey, Kevin!!! It's Maggie Morris (from UNT and various other groups) me sometime...