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Back-to-School REFLECTING ON THE WAY EDUCATION HAS CHANGED
A s the kids get ready to head back to school and my oldest starts to pack up for her move to the BSU dorms, I’ve been doing a little thinking about my own school days, way back when. I actually enjoyed school growing up; between seeing all my friends every day, learning new things, and getting the chance to participate in all kinds of athletics, it was a routine I fell into easily. But it’s interesting to look around at my own kids’ school lives and the things my wife deals with as a teacher at Eagle High these days and realize how much everything has changed. I’m pretty sure high school was a little easier for us growing up. Maybe not so much in terms of the actual material — I had plenty of classes that challenged me — but in the way that grades and school now seem to determine these kids’ entire life paths. As college has gotten more and more expensive and degrees have become more abundant in the workplace, the paradigm has steadily shifted, the pressure increasing. The expectation is for kids to come out of school with all kinds of AP classes, straight A’s, and an insane list of extracurriculars — a 4.0 GPA isn’t even good enough. My wife deals with this often. Today’s online access of student’s grades enables (and demands) parents to be in constant contact with the teachers. “Some kids just aren’t A students,” my wife says, “and that’s fine! But for some parents or other organizations, that’s just not good enough — they won’t rest until their kid is at 100 percent across the board.” Of course, it’s good to be concerned about how well your children are doing in school — I certainly am — but you need to be realistic and not bear down on them until they burn out. With this in mind, it was refreshing for my wife when she went to orientation at BSU with our oldest and discovered that, for certain parts of the program — including the grades portal — parents just aren’t allowed access. It’s an atmosphere of heightened accountability, where students are really treated like the adults they are. I think my daughter will really thrive. She’s excited, and we’re excited for her.
It’s funny to see how each of the kids approaches school completely differently. My oldest has always been pretty self-sufficient and hardworking. When she comes up against an obstacle, she studies her way out of it. My middle daughter, however, struggles a little more with the traditional school paradigm. She’s passionate about certain aspects but finds it hard to tie everything together. But she’s learning more and more strategies as she gets older. And then there’s my youngest, my son, who has absolutely no trouble with school at all, to the point that he often doesn’t even bother applying himself. I think we bust his chops the most, just because I know what he’s capable of. He may be one of those kids that would benefit from the hypercompetitive school atmosphere as he moves up. All in all, I think we’re all ready for the back-to-school season. The kids might complain a little (except for my oldest, who is itching to get out of the house, of course), but I’m guessing that they enjoy those familiar routines just like I did growing up, even if they won’t admit it. Whatever happens, it’s always just exciting to see them grow and learn as people, discovering just who it is they want to be.
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