School programs are often concerned with meeting defined standards and focus on how the administration, teachers and students are evaluated. Many children are educated to pass the tests that demonstrate they meet the standards that become the definition of success.
The real question is, what is real success look like?
The world is changing rapidly and it’s a wonder that schools can fully evaluate the need to change, let alone embrace changes that meet the current needs of their students.
The intrusion of social media, bullying, policies of discrimination, childhood obesity and diabetes, ADD, technology and personal safety, adds to the challenge.
A little stress is helpful for motivation but too much gets in the way of achieving education goals.
The responsibility for success lies squarely on the shoulders of parents and families. Seth Godin blogged an interesting perspective:
“Day after day, year after year, it’s the interactions we have at home that have the biggest impact on who we become.
Public school is an essential part of our culture. But the inputs and foundations that parents create are essential and they are truly difficult to outsource.
What would happen if you figured out how to spend two hours a day, every day, without electronics, with your kids? Looking them in the eye, being present, doing projects, setting standards, raising the bar, learning, seeing, hearing, connecting, challenging, questioning, being questioned.”
Parents and families can help in areas not covered in the schools. They cannot only create a safe, supportive refuge but also assist in developing strategies for coping.
Introducing children to some useful tools to develop resilience and confidence are the keys to thriving in a stressful environment.
Some schools have begun to implement mindfulness practices with great results. Parents can be supportive of such efforts at school and at home and perhaps help themselves and the family by adopting this practice.
Another useful tool includes practicing the art of presence, as described by Eckhart Tolle in his best selling book, The Power of Now. He even developed a children’s book to introduce young people to this principle.
This practice focuses on “being” rather than “doing” in the present by quieting the constant and noisy stream of thoughts that replay and amplify past events and concern about the future.
Education is often considered as the transfer and accumulation of knowledge. Although knowledge is required to eventually earn a living, it may not teach the wisdom required to live a fulfilling life.
W. B. Yeats said it this way: “Education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire.”
Education is an essential obligation for families and communities to raise happy, thriving adults and this obligation is also an opportunity.
Parents and families can seize the opportunity to foster wisdom by exploring life affirming coping strategies that will enrich the lives of both parents and children.
After all, peace comes not from the absence of conflict in life, but from the ability to cope with it. Isn’t that the true definition of success?