I live in Rochester, New York, a city whose educational officials have long been in search of some effective way to improve the public school system. Or maybe merely improve the statistics related to the public school system. There’s a difference between those two things.
Anyway, every time I read something in the paper about Rochester’s public schools, it has to do with changing or tweaking a policy or a program. The focus is on what can be done externally to Make Things Better.
The focus never seems to be on how to really give children and teens what they need where they live–which is inside their own skulls and in their own families and homes, such as they are.
I have lived and worked in Rochester since 1984, and I have had a chance to observe and interact with a variety of children in my home, at church, and in public venues such as work, the grocery store, the bus . . . It seems to me that the public schools would make a much bigger difference in the lives of children if they address some sort of obvious realities:
–Children are physically, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually disadvantaged for life if they do not learn–from infancy–the value of education, self-discipline, respect for one’s own life and health, and respect for others’ lives, property, and cultures.
–Children are not born instinctively knowing anything about how to live successfully in the world, therefore, they need guidance and protection from trustworthy adult role models, ideally parents.
–Children can to some extent be guided and protected by those who are involved in the public school system. However, the external programs and punishments provided by the public school system are only marginally effective for children who do not ALREADY have in place basic personal and internal tools for successfully problem-solving, envisioning, interacting,
What if the public school system focused on supporting the first classroom children have–the family–and the first teachers children have–parents (or grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. . . . whoever is actually taking care of children)?
Not in a way that says teachers are it and parents/adult guardians are shit. Not in a way that says parents have to give their kids computers in order to make sure their kids learn anything. Not in a government handout way but in a real, person-to-person, collaborative, we are in this together way?
If it takes a village to raise a child, why doesn’t the school system really get out in the village?