By Craig Funston
This is the time of year when we teachers-cum-writers sit down and wax positively and enthusiastically about the upcoming school year. At this stage of September, it is still a fresh start—maybe a different curriculum or a new teaching style, a stronger yet gentler presence in the classroom, along with the necessary patience and creativity.
Right; that generally lasts for about three weeks, and then we often tend to fall into the same old rut—some of us more than others. Even though I am less than part-time, I am also guilty as charged.
Alas, alas, I must add to my comments the promises of some clown back east, fomenting a movement to ban homework, as if that will make school any more attractive to a bored fourteen-year-old kid. Or we can look in the other direction (that would be west, over to BC, Maurice) where there is a nasty teachers’ strike going on (and on and on it goes).
One of the advantages of living in Alberta is the educational options there are for students—children and adult alike. Said options come in the form of day school (public, private, and Christian) and home school. The “adult” component relates to the diligent work that Jody Cassell and her team do with our Mennonite friends throughout the county.
So it’s that time of year when we (that would be parents, kids, and teachers) are slowly settling into a routine of books, breaks and blackboards—or maybe in today’s educational environment, iPads, hang out time, and smartboards.
Funny how you can dress it up, change its name, and re-package it, but it’s still a classroom with doors, desks, and windows. Not that change isn’t good; one wonders, though, are these million-dollar projects producing million-dollar results?
I am committed to the education principle that what’s best for the child is best for all. One child may do well in day school, whereas another may do better in a home school. Parents ultimately must make that choice for their kids. And I repeat that it is a wise province that allows these choices.
At this stage of my life (and within that, my career), I am seeing some wonderful results through those that have gone the Christian school and home school route. Don’t get your hackles up just because I am promoting (what appears to be) my biased educational approach. I’m not: It’s the world I live in and I have a reasonable understanding of what goes behind the closed doors of a Christian school and home school.
I always feel I need to place a caveat at this juncture of my columns on schooling, so here it is again: I have many, many friends who teach and administer in public schools, and they are doing a terrific job. That goes for those I don’t know, too.
That being said here, as well as in other columns, it is the parents’ right to choose the education model for their child, but it is also the parents’ responsibility to follow through on that choice. If their choice, on one hand, is for day school, then they need to support the teachers and programmes, pay their bills on time, and get involved in as many committees as reasonable.
If, on the other hand, their choice is for home education, then get the best curriculum for your child(ren), be diligent about content, proficiency, skills, and excellence, and enjoy the ride. More and more colleges and universities are competing for homeschooled students for those very reasons.
As a parent, regardless of the model you choose, remember that these are the most formative years of your child’s life. Don’t let them fritter their days away, learning fluffy, irrelevant things that will serve no practical purpose in the life they will lead outside of school. There’s also the philosophical side of education, namely, the right worldview—or, better stated, how they view life.
In other words, they may or may not come out strong in academics, but if they come out weak in character, what’s the point of school? I agree that the brunt of their moral development must come from the home, but when a child spends the better part of each day and each week outside the home, watch out for those influences that may work against the family. That, in a nutshell, is why many parents are turning to Christian schools or home education, namely, young people whose character is sufficiently well developed to benefit their family and society.
And as far as banning homework, when a child is educated at home, it’s all, well, home work.