Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Are You an Education Snob?

Print from Elegant Snobbery
What is the "best" education? Public or private? Homeschool or traditional school? Ivy League or State University? Small or large? Diverse or homogeneous? Neighborhood or magnet program? Charter school or public school? Residential or commuter?

What happens when the education you thought you had planned for your child doesn't turn out to be the "best" for him?

First, you grieve.

I've been through this "loss" more than once with my own children. And yes, I consider it a loss. My own expectations, even though they were well-informed and sincere, have limited my children at times. What I'm learning is that it takes more than test scores to tell me what the best path is for my child's academic future.

The path to college is paved with certain pre-requisite experiences: college prep coursework in high school, a decent SAT/ACT score, and the ability to be an independent learner. You don't necessarily have to know what you want to be when you grow up, but you do have to be willing to explore the possibilities and maintain a certain GPA while doing so. You have to be motivated. You have to want it.

It can't be my decision as the mom. It can't be the high school guidance counselor's decision. It can't be a boyfriend or girlfriend's decision either. The only one who should choose their post high school future is the person who will have to live with it.

And that's really hard to do.

I thought I knew what was best for my sons. After all, I'm all about education! But as I stood in line with my 19 year old to sign up to take a placement test for entrance into the vocational-technical center, I realized that what I knew was limiting to him instead of liberating.

After a year of college, many battles and a strain on our relationship that scared me, I realized that the path I set for our son was not the path he chose. And he's the one who has to walk it!

The system (and his mother) said he tested well, had good grades, got a decent score on the SAT and could handle college level work. On paper, college was his path - no question. But he is mechanical, likes to work with his hands, likes to get dirty, and gains satisfaction from building something. He is capable, but hates writing papers, memorizing information he feels is pointless, and resists sitting in a classroom for an extended period of time.

He's always been this way. Why did it take me this long to see it?

As you consider the path of the children in your care, remember to factor in their personalities, their talents, and their desires. Try to lay aside your own map of their journey. There are different paths to the same destination. After all, isn't what we ultimately want is for our kids to be happy, find satisfaction in the work of their hands, and be able to provide for themselves and their families?

Yeah, it is. . .