You Can Lead A Child To Education, But…
Rory is not doing well at school. His parents, Mr. and Ms. Smith, are not pleased. He is continuing to earn poor grades in all but his PE class in which he has an A. His parents are very concerned. They set up a special meeting with the teacher at the junior high school following the meeting they had at the beginning of the school year, when the teacher had noted he was not completing his school work. The parents were outraged that their son was not yet completing his work and informed the teacher that she needed to find new ways to make their son perform better in class, "…After all," said Ms. Smith, "you are the teacher."
Really? Perhaps, we would all do better with this situation if we looked upon ourselves as teachers as well. Are you not with your child from the very beginning? Who do you think is watching you for hours, days, months at a time, but your child? We all learn by observation and that includes your child. What may be the biggest problem for our children, who are performing poorly in school, is that their parents are less involved with their child's learning than they could be. A recent note from a school teacher during parent-teacher conferences noted that he had only 25% of his students' parents attending, while over one-third of his students had grades of D and F. It seems ludicrous to expect one's child to respect the school–learning process, when the parents do not display their respect for the system of education in which their child is enrolled.
The only sure way to encourage your child to perform well in school, to exhibit excitement about learning, is for you to model a sincere sense about learning in your own environment. Anyone that emerged as a leader, a visionary, or a scientist can claim someone in their life that placed them on the path to understanding what an education is really about. Your child observes you and, like it or not, adopts your beliefs, attitudes, and values. He may not yet be able to express them as you do, but he sure can exhibit somewhat similar behavior. One such student was suspended for a lengthy period of time from school for harassing a female teacher, but later reported that his father talks like that to his mother "all the time." One parent admitted that he never read a book or magazine once he dropped out of high school, but "I fight everyday with my kid, because he won't read his school book or do homework."
What good does it do to sit with children a the kitchen table all night long every night, when the child does not have a positive concept of learning? That, of course, may have something to do with the way we wrestle with the child over simply getting the homework completed: "Sit down and DO NOT get up until you are finished," what are you doing with that? Finish your homework, Mister!" and "no you can't watch TV or play with the PS3, Go back to work!" It is possible that we merely do not model enough good things about education in the way we could read and study ourselves, but we make the whole event so negative, so painful, it is no wonder that children oft times have a negative view of the whole experience. Find a way to put some joy in learning, as you the parent are the original teacher here. You are the one who puts the idea in your child's mind that learning is an exciting and productive experience.
Education is not just going to school. It is learning more about the environment in which we live, it can be an enlightening opportunity for the individual. Education allows an individual to mature, developing a comprehensive understanding of the world in which he lives, thus creating a more compassionate individual. This can only happen when we, as the ruling adults in his life, assume our responsibility to inform the child that learning is a gift, it is essential, it is important to him and to his continued success in the world. We can do this by displaying an interest in learning as well. We can regularly read books to ourselves and to our children. Make learning a part of the family outing experience. Attend museums, art shows, travel; see as much of the world as you can. Education is illuminating and allows for understanding and tolerance of others.
Help your child experience the fun in learning. He will adopt your attitude and dabble in your interests. Refuse to have the television on all day. Get magazines and newspapers and have the children read to you. Explore with your child what the articles are disclosing. As you increase your child's awareness about learning you will invoke his natural level of curiosity and he will carry this exuberance into his learning. You can lead a child to education, but you have to know the way first.