Who will educate our Children

Who is responsible for our children’s Education?

Raising children is a creative endeavor, an art rather than a science.

Bruno Bettelheim

It Takes a Community!

It takes a Community to Educate a Child is an old African proverb that is even truer today than it was. But we have forgotten how to do it. As we have migrated from small towns and farms to big cities and industrial work, we have become more insular and less a part of a community.

This lack of awareness and feeling of responsibility for our fellow man has taken away the community raising children and left it in the hands of the parent (s), churches, and the schools. These institutions are struggling today, creating less and less of a community environment for our children. Church attendance and activities used to provide a high level of impact on the formation of our children. But church attendance has been declining around the world.

Many factors cause the decline in attendance: scandals in the Catholic Church, the number of secular activities and demands on our time growing out of control, young adults are attending in smaller numbers at the same time as the older members are dying off. So this means that the church is having a smaller impact on the raising of our children. The community that the child needs is growing smaller. As you can see from the graph below, weekly church attendance has fallen in the United States to just over a third of our population (36%). And the rest of the world isn’t doing any better.

This leaves two sources for educating our children, well three- family, school, and videos. I will discuss each of these in future blogs separately and just give you a taste here.

Family

“The family is the test of freedom; because the family is the only thing that the free man makes for himself and by himself.” — Gilbert K. Chesterton

The family unit has a powerful influence on our children’s happiness, their development, and their future. In Understanding Family structure and dynamics, there are five basic family units today.

⁃ Nuclear Family, which is usually parents and siblings.

⁃ Extended Family, which is aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents.

⁃ Working Parents, which is a unit where both parents work.

⁃ Single Parents, where for whatever reason only one parent remains with the siblings.

⁃ Older Parents, where the parents have their children later in life.

Each of these family units can cause the successful nurturing of children, but a nuclear, extended family with only one parent working has the best chance. Each of the others has to rely more on the community to raise the children. David Brooks writes in the March Atlantic that “We’ve made life freer for individuals and more unstable for families.” The Ozzie and Harriet lifestyle of the 50s and 60s is no longer the norm. Just as small towns and small farms with the associated communities to help raise children are no longer the norm, neither are nuclear families.

Community

The community that raises our children today comprises family, school, other children, and videos (tv, phones, iPads, watches, etc.) The days of a large extended neighborhood and communities of people who knew you and your children are over. There’s some influence on your kids from certain community organizations (big brother-big Sister, Y, Scouts and sports teams.) But the message is not consistent, and the moral values depend on the adults involved.

“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.”–John Donne.

Schools

What is the goal of our education system? Is it to prepare students for life or prepare them for college? Is it to teach them how to think and reason or to regurgitate answers from textbooks? Where does technology fit into this? Does technology = reform? Tom Segal in Education week asks several other questions. Are we trying to produce happy adults? Are we trying to produce the next generation workforce? Are we trying to produce active, informed citizens capable of navigating a complex democracy? Perhaps “college readiness?” Are we trying to “beat” China (or South Korea, or Finland, or whoever)? Is it something in between?

As you can see from the depth and breadth of these questions that instilling the morals and values of the community in our children isn’t even a part of the discussion of education reform. The schools are struggling with physical and cyberbullying along with a host of problems related to management, budgets, and communication with parents and the community.

So today as educators discuss school reform for the future, the purpose of public education is unclear- everyone has their own opinion. They vary from teaching them reading, writing, and arithmetic to teaching them the skills to function in the world, skills to have options in life, and the love of exploration. This disruption in the education world is not helpful in raising our children.

“Education breeds confidence. Confidence breeds hope. Hope breeds peace.”–Confucius.

Electronics and Videos

Videos, in my estimation, are not helping our youth. There is too much violent content that teaches them they can take the law into their own hands. They are losing the ability to converse with adults and each other and are becoming isolated from reality and people. Perhaps, probably, I am just old-fashioned, but civil discourse rather than sound bites is a genuine need in our society today.

Electronics are a part of our society and are not going away. Because of this, educators and parents need to figure out how to use them in a better way.

The goal of education is the advancement of knowledge and the dissemination of truth. — John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Citizens

Everything we do in public as citizens contributes to the education of those that are around us and view our behavior. We led by example when we mentor youth in groups or singly. Your actions in public show people that:

⁃ Laws matter. Do you run yellow lights?

⁃ How we interact with people matters? Have you ever had a flight canceled after you boarded the plane? You had to get off and figure out how you were going to get where you wanted to go. Are you rude, loud, and ugly to the people at the podium trying to help you? I have seen this over and over. They deserve better. Think of the teaching happening here. Being cooperative sometimes leads to rewards.

⁃ How you talk to people matters. Do you catch yourself trying to make a point by getting louder than the other person and the discussion just spirals out of control? Since we are seldom having these discussions in a vacuum, we are having a teaching moment for those around us. Try to discuss things in a moderate tone so it doesn’t become a shouting match. Remember, you can always agree to disagree and move on.

⁃ Do you offer to help people? Do you accept graciously if they decline your help?

⁃ How do you support your churches and schools because that helps mold our children?

Whether they are your children or someone else’s, it is your responsibility to set a good example for them! Get Involved!

“Educate your children to self-control, to the habit of holding passion and prejudice and evil tendencies subject to an upright and reasoning will, and you have done much to abolish misery from their future and crimes from society.”Benjamin Franklin

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