When I was younger, I wanted to be a teacher. A middle or high school English teacher, to be more specific. I was inspired by some of the fabulous teachers I had throughout my education. Even in college, I was lucky enough to be surrounded by some pretty amazing faculty.
They weren’t all incredible. There was the 7th grade English teacher who had us watch movies pretty much every day while she sat in the back of the classroom adjusting her wig and putting on way too much lipstick.
But the ones that stood out, were the ones who brought their love of [insert subject here] into their classroom. My sixth grade teacher sat her class down once a week for “reading time.” Instead of business-as-usual, she would have us sit on the carpet and listen as she read aloud to us. My Junior year English teacher was young and full of energy. She recommended books to me outside of the curriculum that she knew I would enjoy. She let me be a T.A. for her during my Senior year, solidifying my decision to go to college to be a teacher. Many of my Literature classes in college were taught by one amazing woman who presented me with opportunities to explore other career options when I decided that teaching wasn’t really for me. She brought me on as the assistant editor of the Review, which gave me my first experience at editing – something that became a lifelong passion.
My wish for my 5-year-old son, is that the adults in his life take as much of an interest in his education as the ones in mine did. My mother was there for me, helping me with homework (but never doing it – as it turns out was an issue for some of the other kids I attended grade school with), and gently pushing me to achieve my personal best. She set the bar a little bit higher than the school system did, because she knew what I was capable of.
The standards right now are a laugh. The bar has been set low, in the hopes that everyone will do “just enough” to get by in life. The bar at the Success Academies is set higher on purpose, because the adults know the kids are capable of more than what some school board says they are. Kids are small, but they aren’t stupid (this is a paraphrase of something the authors stated in Mission Possible several times). They don’t need to be spoken to in falsetto voices with baby talk. We don’t need to talk down to our children. They are brighter than many people give them credit for.
When my son was young, I skipped over the baby talk. I spoke to him as if I were having a conversation with someone my own age. I believe this is directly responsible for his brilliant mind. He has been known to correct other people’s grammar (adults and kids alike), and has always enunciated better than I’ve heard in my experience with children of a similar age.
I also place a lot of emphasis on reading and writing because “literacy is the key to learning.” (pg. 4) This is one of many ideals that I agree with the authors and founders of the Success Academies and THINK Literacy. My son starts Kindergarten this fall (because he missed last year’s cut-off by a mere 10 days!), and he has already started to read. He is starting his schooling already ahead of the standards that have been set by adults who don’t believe in the abilities of our children. He and I will have to work harder, just to make sure that he is constantly challenged, and does not feel “bored” by the low standards he has to reach.
In an ideal world, every school would adopt the practices of the Success Academies. Teachers would be paid what they deserve, given the training and resources they need, and our children would directly benefit from that.
This isn’t an ideal world, and it’s hard to be optimistic about the future of our educational system, but I’m doing my best. I’m taking responsibility for my child’s education, doing what I can to stimulate his natural curiosity, and helping him go beyond some lame standards set in place by someone who doesn’t even believe in what he – and any child – can achieve.
For more information on Mission Possible and the Success Academies, visit http://readmissionpossible.com. You can also connect with Eva Moskowitz, Founder and CEO of the Success Academy Charter Schools, on her FaceBook page or via Twitter.
This post and the following giveaway are sponsored by The SITS Girls. All opinions expressed are my very own.
Want to win a copy of Mission Possible: How the Secrets of the Success Academies Can Work in Any School? I’ll be giving away one copy to a random commenter on August 23rd. Just leave me a comment below. You can just stop by and say “howdy”, or you can tell me your school experiences, or you can just tell me how pretty my hair looks today. Anything counts. But I’d really love to hear your opinions on the education of our children. (One entry per person.)
This is my very first giveaway, so I’m making it really easy. If you’d like to follow me on Twitter, like the Unintentionally Brilliant Facebook page, or subscribe to my RSS, that would be fantastic. But none of that is required to enter the contest. Just a comment will do.