A Letter to My Nephew Concerning Education

Hi Russell,

Since you said you would like to discuss education, I thought I would get the ball rolling. When I was your age, I thought I would have most of the answers by the time I reached the grand old age of 50 but I don’t. These are just my thoughts.

It may have happened before the eighties and I just didn’t notice because didn’t have kids in school, but educational philosophy has become one of a process that yields a product. That works OK when you are making auto parts and every starter for every Neon is milled and installed the same way, but human beings come in much more individual packages, so I don’t think it works so well there. I think there is a need for standards, don’t get me wrong. I just don’t think that every person in the US can achieve them in the same way. So, while I do see some reasoning behind the No Child Left Behind Act, I think it is absurd not to exclude, for instance, people who are mildly mentally handicapped (IQ below 80). People with a mild mental handicap can achieve a lot, but much of their achievement cannot be measured by a proficiency test or a grade card.

I also think that the majority of responsibility for education rests with the parents and the home. Part of the problem in my town is that many of the parents cannot help their elementary children with their schoolwork since they were not educated themselves. And who do they blame when their children do not meet standards? Why, the school, of course. And they blame the school even if their child says outright that he or she has no intention of cooperating in class or doing the assigned work!

Having said that, though, I am not so sure where I stand on private education and home-schooling. I would not have home-schooled my children because we lived in the country and I felt that they needed social interaction. Your Uncle Ron and I supplemented their learning, though. A lot. I even got a call from college asking me how to write a paper. Seems the papers that got an A in high school didn’t cut it in college. This kind of thing is an obvious drawback to public education, but if you go with private, which is out of reach financially for many people, how are you obeying the Biblical command to be in the world but not of the world? And if I, as a parent, solve the problem of education for my children by putting them in private school, don’t I as a member of the body of Christ have a responsibility toward those children who, for whatever reason, are stuck in public education?

I think the world in which you and Melissa will raise your children is a much tougher one than the world in which I raised mine. If you put your children in public school, counteracting the influence of the world is going to be a lot of work for you. But if you put them in private or parochial school, those influences are still going to be there.

I guess I have rambled enough for now. Feel free to disagree. I am always happy to discuss, and like I said, I do NOT have all the answers.

Love,

Aunt Becky

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