I happened upon an #edchat on Twitter, and I'm so glad I did!
Not only was it encouraging to see so many people talking about education in a thoughtful way, but it really helped me see the forest through the trees. (But it didn't change my love of cliches, apparently.)
If you've been reading me lately, you've read a lot of whining and complaining about homework and budget cuts and blah blah blah.
Well, the edchat brought me back to what I really care about when it comes to education: preparing our children for adulthood.
It's not supposed to be about getting into a good college or becoming the next Steve Jobs. It is about developing and nurturing our children to become the next generation. It is about entrusting our world into their hands.
At some point, I tweeted that the most important thing I learned was that it's not what you know, but how you go about learning what you don't.
I came into the workforce with nothing. I was an actor, hadn't finished college, and just needed to be able to support myself. Most of my employment has been obtained through temp agencies. I could pass their basic skills tests with flying colors. I knew my alphabet, I taught myself to type when I was a kid (so I could write all my crazy stories), and knew how to get along with adults because of all the theatre I'd done since age 6.
It turned out that's all I needed.
I could communicate effectively, I could be pleasant to co-workers and the general public, and I could follow directions.
Everything else was on-the-job training. Once I learned the job, could perform it well, I'd get bored. I'd start suggesting ways to improve the company/department, and create projects for myself. And I'd get promoted.
This isn't meant to be bragging, by the way. This is meant to say that anyone with basic skills can support themselves.
My girls have already shown that they grasp some of these basic skills, and more. Riley, as I've boasted time and time again, is a natural problem-solver, intuitive, empathetic, creative and thoughtful. Sylvia is passionate, creative, always a teacher's pet, energetic and caring. They both can express themselves effectively. They both have a keen interest in the world at large.
I think I need to relax a little.
Now that's not to say that I won't complain about insipid homework assignments ever again (hey, I'm still me!) or stop paying attention to what goes on in their schools. I cared about education even before I had kids, and I still believe that education is the greatest factor, for better or worse, in determining our country's future.
Lately, I've just been feeling as if I'm banging my head against a wall; worrying that the hours we've been spending on long-winded homework have been a waste. While I'm not convinced that they haven't, I'm less concerned that they've been damaging, either. I can also better appreciate certain talents and skills they have that may not show up in any report card, but may be a far better barometer of how they'll do in the real world.
I think we're on the right track.