Thursday, March 6, 2014

A Mother's Wish

This post originally started out as rant on whether or not to home-school my children.  It was a tribute to my frustration with the current school system and thinking that our family might be more satisfied with homeschooling.  It has changed into a reflection and a
statement about my wish for my kids.  I wrote this post one afternoon after returning from a family trip to San Francisco where we had a two day learning trip that included visits to the California Academy of Sciences and the Exploratorium.  I was pumped up and convinced that homeschooling was the obvious choice.  Then my husband read it, and his wise advice was to reread it the next day before hitting the publish button.  The next day, I read it again and realized that even though my intent was to talk about the school system, there was a good possibility someone might take offense.  So it sat in my drafts box. 

Today I found out that my favorite teacher was recovering from a serious bicycle accident and revisited the post.  I decided I did not feel the need to share what I thought needed improvement with the schools today.  Instead, I just really wanted to share my thoughts on the best primary school experience that I could have had.  So below you will find my edited post.

My children's education is a topic I have discussed endlessly with family and friends.  Not only is it one of the most important foundations that I believe help shape a child into who they are as an adult, but it is something that can happen in many types of formats, especially if you are willing to break out of the norm of traditional education.  My discussion with, well, everyone has been about my concerns with traditional public school education and my children learning in an environment that will help them reach their highest potential.

I suppose my ideas about what I wished for my children and their school experience stem from my own childhood experience.  From first through fourth grade I was so lucky to be a part of a program that was different from traditional public school but was still part of public school.  It was called the I.D.E.A. program   This was a mixed grade, parent participation program that had a positive hippie-esque feeling.  It was self-paced learning and child-chosen tasks, but it was more than that.
 Halloween in Mr. Hagan's class

The thing that made this program work was my AMAZING teacher!!  Mr. Hagan is a one in a million amazing man.  I only wish I could clone him so my kids could have him too as a teacher.  He created this awesome environment where learning happened.  

We learned through doing, a hands-on approach. 

Student production of The Wizard of Oz

We learned while creating stories, art, and theater.

Student Art presentation before the auction fundraiser

We learned through our own childhood curiosity and where the question, "Why?" was met with a smile and a discussion.
Visit to Hidden Villa

The program was out-of -the box for public school back then.  But this foundation was one of the most important factors that molded, who I am today as an adult. 
For me, school was exciting place to be.  

Because it was mixed grades, the kids exchanged teaching and learning from each other.  My days were filled with fun activities that taught me valuable skills and tool such as math, language, art, music, and science (although it was never broken up like that).  
Silk Worms
The solid foundation gave me confidence and a LOVE for learning that continued through Jr. High, High school, college, and even today.
Play Dough with my best friend

This is where I am.  I have these incredibly bright and curious kids that are like sponges.  They are in the primary grades where the tone is set for their education.  I want them to be engaged and excited to go to school.  I want to pass on that love for learning, so they are excited and confident to tackle any subject.  I want their "Why?" questions to be met with a smile and a discussion that lead to more "Why?" questions.
So the big question for me is, "How do I provide that environment for them."  Well, even though I have spent many long hours in a genetic laboratory, I have not found a way to successfully clone Mr. Hagan, so that is out.  I thought I had only three choices, traditional school (public or private), home school, or find a hybrid of the two.  There are advantages and disadvantages with each option. It weighed heavily on which was the best option for my children.

After taking a breather and looking at what really will work for our family and each child's personality, I realize that it is not a traditional school vs home school debate.  What I really hope for is that my children will each have a very special teacher that inspires them, creates a thirst for discovery, and allows them to shine. 
Mr. Hagan and his wife, Joan, at my wedding
A teacher that remains in their heart and minds through out their lives would be the blessing I really am searching for them.  Is it too much to ask?   Maybe.  My compass maybe a little skewed, but I can still hope.  

I would LOVE to hear about stories of your favorite teacher. Please share.

Also, I would like to send a get well soon wish to Mr. Hagan.  Here is to a speedy recovery!

1 comment:

  1. Dear Stacy - I read your comments to "Mr. Hagan". It means a lot to be remembered! Mr. Hagan always said his favorite years of teaching was the IDEA program. Thank you for giving voice to your experience and sharing it.
    Mr. Hagan comes home on Saturday after three weeks of care. It's exciting and scary at the same time! Much love to you - Joan Hagan
    P.S. Loved the picture of Mr. Hagan - I forgot how "young" we were!