Ah yes. The time of year when motherhood meets former school teacher, and I get super awkward about wanting the best for my kids but not wanting to seem demanding (and annoying) by voicing all the concerns I probably legitimately have against the public education system in North Carolina. Certainly a better platform than Open House exists for discussion of room for improvement.
Last week included meeting new teachers and gathering supply lists. Hoping the fit is a good one. Hoping my kids are as loved as they are challenged. Trying not to let my mind wander down the path of wondering exactly how hard it would be to implement some school-wide uniformity when it comes to classroom procedures and oh, I don’t know, say, color-coding folders and notebooks according to subject. (Just an idea.) Forgive me, I was nothing if not excellent at procedural management as even high school kids are terrible at organization. Imagine how my undiagnosed genius/ADD 4th grader struggles.
It also included pages upon pages of login information for all the different online portals my babies will be accessing in the name of up-to-date instruction.
All this, and another folder full of paperwork I must fill out by hand every. single. year, despite the fact that nothing ever changes.
When I read that my 4th grader’s academically gifted classroom will be “mostly paper free” I had to pause and catch my breath.
Call me old fashioned, but then tell me I’m not the only crazy mom who will be praying my way through the next 16 years (times four children) as our society increasingly moves toward what we may one day deem our “worst move” in educational history.
Yes. I’m talking about technology in elementary school classrooms, and how much I hate it.
Forgive me, but when it comes to developing neurological pathways (though I’m no neurologist) isn’t physical touch a pretty big developmental factor? What about the smell of a book? What about how many things I remember from 11th grade AP Biology because of the exact placement of a certain graph, table, or picture, and my memory of where it sat on the page?
You cannot convince me that a paperless 4th grade classroom is what is truly best for my child.
But possibly I can be convinced that it isn’t the worst. And, possibly, I can also be convinced that there exists a balance, and ultimately my children will be even more well-rounded than I was, in my always-slightly-behind-the-times, small religious private schools.
I can also still be convinced that what my kids need to learn most from school right now is how to get along with others in a closed system in which they have very little control. How to talk and listen to people who are different from them. How to act and speak respectfully towards adults they may struggle to actually respect. And this, despite my late night wake-up panics, is still very high on my list of positive things to come out of sending my kids to a large(r) and also public elementary school.
We can read and write and build and tumble and paint and sing and create and even ask our children the hard questions at home.
But I’m never going to be able to replicate or engineer the very real-life relationships my children are already developing, with kids they would otherwise likely never meet in our day-to-day life, and adults they might otherwise never have the guts or a reason to talk to.
So, here’s my public outcry against this beast-machine that is so much bigger than all of us, and a public invitation to join me, quite seriously, in praying for our kids, their friends, and their teachers this year at school. Of course we all do it, even silently in the way we hold back tears of fear and joy on the first day. But this year, I’m announcing it.
Pray with me.
And let’s not stop. EVER.