Sunday, January 11, 2009

Why do we educate? Books

I'm reading a couple of good books right now....and if you are interested in education, you might also want to check them out.

Hold onto your Kids- why parents need to matter more than peers by Gordon Neufeld. Dr. Neufeld came to speak to over 400 EPSB staff recently and then did another session for parents on the importance of attachment. It's a book that emphasizes the key role parents (and other significant adults, like teachers) can and should make in children's lives and how our "power" or proper relationship has been eroded to the point that kids are looking to their peers far too much for guidance, often to disastrous consequence.

Why Do we Educate? Renewing the Conversation by David Coulter and John Wiens. I heard David and John speak at the most recent PSBAA (Public School Board Association of Alberta) conference. The book examines what education is (and is not) and how it differs from "schooling". I'm just in the beginnings of both books, so I can't draw any conclusions yet, but both provide good food for thought.

I have had a number of challenging conversations lately with parents of children with special needs- the hopes they have for their children, the at-times overwhelming frustration they experience, the sorrow of lost opportunities and the relentless determination to move forward and find solutions. These conversations are important because they open my eyes to a perspective, an experience that is not my own but for which I, as a parent, have great empathy. Every parent dreams, hopes, fears and worries. Every parent feels immense joy and immense pain- at some time or other. It comes with the turf and with parenthood comes incredible vulnerability. Someone described being a parent as "watching your heart walking around outside your body." I think that's a pretty apt description.

Why we educate, what do we hope children will master and understand by the time they leave school, how can parents and schools successfully partner in the joint work of education, how can we nurture and guide our children to their best possible future selves....

Lots to mull over in the New Year and beyond.

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