According to a TED talk given by a 13- year old boy who has opted out of traditional education, many schools are teaching our children how to “make a living instead of making a life.” His words and experiences since he has not been in a traditional school were filled with joy and curiosity based on actual experiences connected to skills. Imagine seeing the connection between math, business, skiing, and manufacturing? Imagine understanding the connection between art, creative writing, and math, but unable to express it because your classroom is unruly or chaotic? Or you are simply always prepping for a test? This is a problem and it did not occur overnight but each day that exists a creative idea or notion dies. Just like Tinker Bell when children do not believe in fairies. We have stopped believing in the connection between being happy, good health, and mind boggling creativity.
My daughter is bored and at times unhappy. I see it more and more each day when she comes home from school. She is excited to tell me the things she has learned but she is not always happy. She does not quite understand why most of the students do not share or enthuisiasm or retain information from week to week. She is happiest when she is sitting with her sketchpad or canvas about to create a new piece of art. She is happiest when she is drilling me with questions about the importance of plot, character development, and imaginary worlds in order to write more of her book. A book that after writing 80 pages she completely started over because she did not think some of the characters were interesting enough and she started a new notebook. She is happiest sitting in the movie theater watching The Hobbit (a book she read in 6th grade) and recognizes the characters the plot and the subtle changes between the two. She is really happy when she is practicing the piano or rehearsing with junior and senior choir. What decision should I make for her in regard to school?
Since she is an only child, I believe that the social aspect of traditional school is important. I took her out of a charter school and placed her in a traditional public school with better academics and options. I saw her blossom when she made the change. But now that she gets it, she is looking for more. My daughter has very high expectations and they are not being fully met in her current grade. Then I watched this video and realized that she wants to be happy, healthy, and creative.
When she participated at Fleischer Art Memorial for classes she loved it! One of the first things she noticed is how quiet the class was and how much the teachers had to teach her. Even when she begrudgingly signed up for Cambodian Dance the year before, she ran out with a huge smile because the teacher acknowledged how flexible she was and how quickly she picked up the steps. This is a child who sits for hours with you tube to learn how to draw the human body accurately and how to repair broken jewelry.
I have lived my life shuttling back and forth between making a living and making a life. My daughter wants to make a life and she works towards it each day. But, I am noticing the light dim whenever I send her to school. And that is a problem that I am unsure of how to yet fix.