Thursday, 11 November 2010
What are the most important subjects in a curriculum?
Sometimes it seems crazy to have all these kids.
And home school them too!
But one thing that our situation affords our children is the opportunity to be in a natural environment. An environment which includes people of all ages.
They regularly get to learn, often by struggling through their own emotions, how to be patient and empathetic toward younger ones. Equally they learn to be respectful and loving toward older members of the family. Because they are around them. All day.
There are ups and downs and things don't always run smoothly.
Yet I see them learning how to, grow around one another like the gentle tendrils of small tender shoots, feeling out compassion for one another.
I thank God that bullying is a foreign word to them.
This interesting study gives some insight in to the kinds of things that foster compassion in young people.
Sadly, these days we tend to think of bullying as an almost natural, normal part of growing up.
It has become so prevalent.
Managing large groups of children in an institutional setting may only intensify the epidemic we are witnessing.
What is happening is not normal and shouldn't be accepted as such.
Bullying can destroy people's lives.
Creating warm, natural loving environments for children to grow and learn in; environments that focus on the soul, heart and body just as much as the intellect is what creates compassionate, creative, free thinking and tolerant adults, and thus a more compassionate,creative and free thinking world.
My beautiful and loving daughter was bullied during her last two years at school. When we began our homeschooling journey she barely spoke to anyone outside her family.
A year on and I am grateful to be able to say that she is healing. She still has some way to go. However, she has regained her confidence and is happy with her life.
She volunteers in the community, is a group leader in scouts. She hikes, abseils, goes caving, camping and mountain climbing. Next year she'll be joining the air cadets and (she hopes) working towards her pilots license. She alter serves, reads and writes voraciously and has jumped from grade 3 to grade 5 piano in 12 months. It is a wonder to me how far she has come.
And somehow, even through it all she has compassion on those who hurt her, her heart has remained intact.
I am incredibly proud of her strength and courage.
Yet it hurts me to know that she never had to experience such a loss of self worth to begin with.
I only share this story because I fear that we, as a culture, are desensitizing children by placing the primary emphasis on academic achievement rather than developing and nurturing friendship.
Driven by cultural norms and external pressures parents too are over stressed and often have little energy to focus on "soul work" or "heart work" with their kids.
Simply working full time to support a family often leaves incredibly thin margins of time for families to reconnect and bond.
There is so much pressure for us all to perform, look coordinated, and achieve higher and higher goals.
With the constant rush and stresses of life it is so hard to focus on what is truly necessary.
It can be all too easy to seek diversions and quick fixes to my stresses, fears and unending lists. My heart and soul can start to dull against the motion blur and background noise.
We all know how burn out feels.
Teachers face an incredible challenge every single day. I only have 4 under my wing not a 30 strong class! Surely it is impossible to "nurture" each and every child when the ratio between teacher and pupil is so unbalanced.
Equally discipline and rules can't always be "loving" in a school situation. They simply have to be tough enough to handle the number of "incidents" that occur each and every day.
General measures and large brush strokes can't effectively nourish each and every child.
Yet every child is so precious. So many are being lost in the system. So many are being broken by the eroding effect of name calling, insults, punches and pranks.
We may, in time create an economists perfect world through the school system, one that caters for all our physical needs providing convenience after convenience, product after product, technology after technology but one that may also be at the expense of our children's spirits.
To readdress the balance, empathy, compassion, gentleness, kindness, friendship, tolerance and above all love, need to become the number one subjects in every curriculum.
Maybe then bullying could become a thing of the past.