We all have an important role to play in our children’s lives, whether it is our own children or the children in our neighbourhoods and communities. The proverb “it takes a village to raise a child” is more important today as we raise and prepare our children for an ever changing future: a future where jobs and technology will exist that currently do not exist today. Our world is changing rapidly: from countries and communities, to business and industry and onward to families and individuals. However, we still educate within a system that is based on the needs of people in a different time – the industrial revolution.
We recently read and discussed a blog posting by David Wees: People Change (PS. Kids are People) The four of us are very much aware of the changes that life brings us all. Along with the schools parents should be supporting all children to learn and grow through each and every change that come across their path as they move through the education system. Adults often speak and make decisions on behalf of children without ever asking for the child’s input and feedback. We need to start listening and working with children to help them make changes in their own lives instead of doing it all for them. We are trying to raise children to become contributing members of society in a world that is changing way too fast. It is our obligation to ensure they can deal with these changes and move forward. David asked a very thought provoking question at the end of his blog – “What opportunities exist in your school to help kids change their own lives?” Great question! Our answer just brought forth more questions. Yes, the system may need to change their polices, programs and delivery to provide such opportunities, However, we have to ask ourselves, will the individuals, be they educators or family/community, be open to change themselves? Will they be open to doing things differently with respect to how education is delivered? Will they be open to finding new ways to support the individual learner by taking into account their learning styles, skills and interests? And will they be open to systemic change, recognizing that the education system of today may no longer meet the needs of tomorrow’s society?
We would like to share another story with you all. It is a story that supports our belief that opportunities are out there that support children to change their own lives:
Once upon a time there was a family who was on a journey through the kingdom in search of a school that would meet and support the learning needs of their daughter. It was so important to find such a school for their daughter as she needed to feel positive about herself as an individual and to allow her be successful in her learning. Her first three schools were not meeting or supporting her educational or social needs and she soon began to hate school. After much searching and encountering many disappointments along the way, the family finally found “the school.” This was a school that was way ahead of the times. This school was full of educators and support staff who believed in the success of each individual learner. They encouraged and supported family engagement as a means to achieve the best outcomes for all their students. The school philosophy was that with a team approach that included knowledge of both the family and the educators, along with student input, they could support the best outcomes for each student by incorporating personalized learning to support each student’s success. They didn’t just talk the talk about it taking a village to raise a child, the modelled it every day.
Her new school helped her to be successful and achieve her best. They did this by listening to what the parents shared with them about their daughter and family. They listened to the student directly to find out what she knew and was passionate about. They took all this information into account and used their professional knowledge and skills to adapt her learning to work best for her so she could be successful. This team approach to educating and supporting their daughter was extremely successful. She went from a student in Grade 4 who could not read or write at grade level to a successful high school graduate who not only obtained her Dogwood but also maintained honour role grades from grade 8-12 and received district and provincial scholarships. Everyone was happy....The End.
This is in fact a true story. In 1999 the family found a school of educators who believed strongly in personalized learning: A school full of educators, staff and family members who supported the individuality of all students, allowing them not only to succeed in the education system, but to succeed in ways that supported their learning styles and individual personalities. This was a school that allowed the square peg to fit and be successful within the round hole.
You may be happy to know that the student in this story will soon be entering university to obtain a professional degree. Her degree will be in a field of study that she is absolutely passionate about. The passion and skills for this field of study appeared in her elementary school years and she has been very lucky to be supported by her teachers and family members from grade 4 through to graduation.
Each of us can all recall those teachers who really made a difference in our kid’s education and lives. We are sure each of you can recall such teachers as well. We know that the key for our children’s success was that, with the support and encouragement of their teacher, they found a personal connection to their learning, and felt respected and supported by their teachers and family members. We have all personally experienced the difference it makes to student success when educators and families work together. But we are also aware of the many students who have not achieved this success with their learning. There are many times where the success of a student is connected directly to the family working with educators who are open to explore and find ways to help the child achieve, rather than simply trying to make the child fit into the box and learn the same way as the other children. Parents need to be truly engaged in the decision making process around their children’s educational outcomes.
4Moms1Dream believe in the dream that every child can and will be educated in a school where educators and parents work side by side to support their learning. We are enjoying the conversations taking place online with like minded people who are ready to take our education system into the 21st Century by providing personalized learning and supporting authentic family engagement. We also realize that change such as this takes time. But how much time do we really have? How many children will move through an education system that is not meeting their needs? Will you take an active role to help move our education system from where it is now to where it needs to be in order to ensure all children are successful in their future?
We are in! Are you? Together as a village, we can make it happen