My daughter, a new third-grade teacher, posted the following post by Mrs. Iseminger.

http://petalsofjoy.org/?p=940

My daughter thought it the most important statement she’d seen in a long time.

I’m sure she appreciated the opening line. It is something I can see her doing exactly. Of course, the main points are what she was sharing.

To the point, Mrs. Iseminger implores us to love the children. She says:

“Students in our schools are broken. They’re broken pieces from broken backgrounds. Eyes hollow, wondering how to glue and stitch themselves back together realizing Elmer’s can’t fix their problems.

“Ask teachers who love their students. Our hearts ache to touch the ripped places in their souls. To help them understand they’re a treasure. To show them they matter. But we don’t always have the tape and the glue and the patch-kits they need.”

It isn’t so much that they schools are broken (they are), but that so many of the children are broken. We focus too much on trying to make good students and good schools for the students while we forget they are just people. We need to help them be the best people they can be, not prepare them to be the Borg drones that provide for us in our old age.

It so happens that if we love, honor, respect, and care for our young ones, they will reciprocate when we are old. At least, they will if we help them learn what is important by demonstrating it, and I ain’t referring to the three Rs.

Mrs. Iseminger says, “Our schools need you to fight for our students. Not with policies and procedures, rules and regulation. No. We need you to fight with love.

Heavy emphasis on love. Not mushy love. Not love that spoils, but tough love that never forgets that we share the same road, the same failings, the same hopes, and mostly the same goals. Love that gives. Love that demands only an honest effort, never something in return. The love Jesus said was the greatest, that we lay down our life for our friend. It has been said that it is not that hard to die for someone, but it is hard to live for someone. Some people do. Some people must, and they meet the challenge admirably.

Mrs. Iseminger continues:

“Common Core. Parcc. NCLB. CLAST. Race to the Top. SAT. ACT. End of Course Exams. Teacher Evaluations. Standards. C2Ready?

Not a single one of these policies or tests or acronyms begin to touch the deepest needs of our schools today because our schools have fragmented students who continue to attempt learning in the midst of destitution and dysfunction.

Our students are in a fight and they need you to fight with them. Fight for them.

It’s not a fight to elevate standards. It’s not a fight to send every American boy and girl to college. It’s not a fight to raise internationally competitive test scores.”

We need to get over our false sense of patriotism. George Bernard Shaw said, patriotism is your conviction that this country is superior to all other countries because you were born in it. But President Calvin Coolidge said, “Patriotism is easy to understand…. It means looking out for yourself by looking out for your country.”

If we are stuck on the first, we think we are noble when we assert we have to prepare our children to compete on a global stage. If we find our way into the latter, we realize that kind of preparation and competition isn’t what we want at all.

If we truly want competitive kids, then we make them compete. We throw them to the wolves, and just ensure they aren’t all eaten. I trust the image horrifies you. No. Preparation for competition is not the point. Preparation. That is all we really need to accomplish.

Our only real objective with children is to raise them to learn that they can grow beyond what they already are. We must show them by example that hard work pays off. Of course, overwork and never seeing them teaches them a different lesson. Cats in the Cradle and the Silver Spoon comes to mind.

We must impart to our children that learning and knowledge really is power and really does help us better our own lives. We must live it. Learning is more caught than taught.

First, take care of your own. You can homeschool, and you should consider it. It is probably your best option, but it is up to you.

One thing my wife and I learned over the years that it took us to decide to homeschool three of our five was that what they really learn is learned at home anyway, in homework and with mom or dad helping work through the assignments.

It is, of course, only the decision of each parent. Mama really does know best, and I for one will support her in her decision, whatever it is. It is like breastfeeding. Few argue regarding the advantages of breastfeeding now, but it is still each mother’s choice. Formula is quite good enough. No mother should second guess herself. The same goes for homeschooling. Obviously most will still stay in government schools. Accordingly, each of us must do what we can.

Mrs. Iseminger doesn’t pretend to have the answers. She is being honest and asking for us all to do what we can. She writes:

Ask any teacher. She will tell you. Struggling students never really learn in a space without love. When my students know I care, they begin to try. They try because love casts a glimmer of hope into their darkness. A flame of light

When last did you love on a child not your own? I know your own are your priority.

But…

When last did you hit your knees praying for the pain and suffering of our children?

Appendix: We have five. When the eldest was in sixth grade, reading beyond her years, we were trying to work with the teacher and the school to meet our daughter’s needs while cooperating with the school’s requirements. Didn’t work. We ended up having the principal screaming at us in the hallway, telling us maybe we should just homeschool. I never have figured out why I didn’t deck him. Mostly, it just isn’t how I’m wired, at least not since junior high.

I wrote letters. Heard from the dean of curriculum. It was pro forma. Took some effort to talk with him a second time, and he cut me off pretty quick telling me that we had good kids, and he had to devote his time to the ones that had real problems. I’ll leave that there.

We were slow learners, and it wasn’t until the summer before the eldest’s senior year that we decided to homeschool.

The eldest, the initial subject of this article, the new teacher, decided, with much deliberation, to finish her senior year. It wasn’t smooth sailing, but it worked. Honors, etc.

The second, well, she was the main impetuous. School was hard on her. Homeschooling made for a good year, then a year at Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics, which was mixed, then back home for her senior year. She is who has taught me most that our children are our fellow travelers, not our wards, and especially not “ours” with regard to ownership. (And they certainly don’t belong to the state or society or anything else. That is slavery no matter how you slice it, and I’ll have none of it.)

Our third, she stayed in school. Not only does she just have the knack, she was in cheer, and just about every other school activity. Conforming to government requirements has never gotten easy, but she has never slowed down, though she did give up cheer after a couple more years. She’ll graduate with about every honor. Top of her class. We’ll see what comes next, but probably college. Her objectives and dreams don’t really need it, but she sees the value. We are all dealing with the expense issues. Today that is future. We shall see.

The boys are fourth and fifth. They are the necessity for homeschooling. Number four is absolutely the most gregarious, outgoing, open, extrovert I’ve ever heard of. Number five is one of those stereotypical boys and highly kinetic. Sharp, as everyone says, but such are among the greatest difficulties in any classroom. Aside from the blessings Mom receives teaching them, we believe we are blessing the teachers that didn’t have to figure out how to corral them.

It sure would be nice to dialog about what I’ve said here. If you’ve read this far, please consider the reply block below.

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