Monster Hunting

Who is this monster everyone keeps talking about? I mean, it shoots up our schools, it ravages our kids with staggeringly high rates of depression and anxiety, and it has families running for cover.
I found myself ridiculed the other day when discussing the monster. My crime? I send my kids straight into battle aka public (charter) school. Before you read on or move on, this is not a public school vs. home school blog. It’s about our mission field.


Not everyone is called to the same mission field. As far as schooling goes, sometimes we have the liberty to orchestrate our kid’s education, sometimes we have little choice, but right now as parents argue on social media about the “right” way to protect our kids and to give them the best education, there are young feet walking within the mouths of the monsters’ jaws.
My two are there. Yes, they’ve dealt with bullies, they’ve had classmates whose families couldn’t afford to feed them all three meals, they’ve dealt with the privileged (interpret that as you will), played with kids who go home to single parents, etc. Many of these kids are pretty great, and their teachers are as well– teachers who care—and they receive a very well-rounded education, better than I could give them which is one reason why they attend school away from home.
A few years ago, a former student almost shot up their school. Thankfully, some brave people were proactive in stopping it before it happened. Is this terrifying? Of course.
They also get exposed to all those things the rest of us did: bad language, topics way to mature for their ages, poor examples. Yes, I send them into this, but they don’t go in alone.
Recently, my daughter told a friend about Jesus. Yes, right inside the monster’s playground, she said the J word. When she learns of a classmate’s hardship or family troubles, she prays for them (the power of prayer, friends). Where would this help be without kids of faith to know who/what to specifically pray for?
My son reminds others that Jesus still heals. And he’s shown forgiveness—maybe more than some kids would see if all parents of faith decided to do a mass extraction of their children.
When my kids make their own mistakes, they see the effects, and get the opportunity to learn from them firsthand. Christians screw up plenty, I know, that’s why we love the Great Forgiver.
Just to be clear, this is not a billboard against homeschooling—because there are certainly good reasons for choosing that direction—this is just a message for those who deny support to those called in the other direction.
So yes, some will criticize this viewpoint, regardless. But who would rather they got on their knees and prayed for our youth? Parents send their kids into this battleground every day. Thank goodness. Public school is not a thing to hide from—it’s a mission field. Parents—our kids can’t easily band together when they see us constantly fighting over our differences of opinions. Distraction is dangerous.
Bless those praying from home, and those still walking the halls.

Here’s a little tidbit from the generation who constantly receives criticism.

Millennials crave relationship, to have someone walking beside them through the muck. We are the generation with the highest ever percentage of fatherless homes…We’re looking for mentors who are authentically invested in our lives and our future. If we don’t have real people who actually care about us, why not just listen to a sermon from the couch?Sam Eaton

 

Who lives in Arizona? Fancy a trip to Tuscon this weekend? I’ll be at the Tuscon Festival of Books on March 10th, 2:30-4:30, in the Indie Pavilion on the U of A campus. I’ll be signing copies of WAKE, WILD, and I might just be doing a giveaway of ILLUME, the third book in the City of Light Series due out this fall.

From the Chair

I often think of my Grandpa when I sit in his chair we inherited. Dilapidated-looking as it is, it still rocks; the cushions are still soft and its kind like he was. If he could hear the creaks it makes now, he would probably grin and make a good joke about it. He might even pull out his harmonica and play us a tune while rocking and creaking in his chair. Life was simple and good with Grandpa.

Like Martin Crane, another connoisseur of old chairs, I love meaningful things; not necessarily new things, or things with fancy titles, but good things. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h30gtsx9Z_0 No, I don’t mind an ugly chair.

A news anchor or two recently commented on how small town people are

Note the halos

Note the halos

generally uneducated and uninformed about the ways of the world…you know how some journalists speak in various shades of yellow…and when they start using words like folksy,  I usually tune them out. I just wonder if they had sat in my small town Grandpa’s chair for a while, looked at all the small town houses (and big city bridges) he designed over the years and considered the foxholes he spent time in– if they would have learned something about small town people with old chairs. Not everyone can get comfortable in furniture marred with duct tape and cracks —old surfaces are a distraction to some who have trouble seeing their worth.

Maybe those journalists don’t know how many old chair owners listened to their statements and wondered if the education that put them in their anchor’s chair was a lot like how many products are made today—built to break?

I’m all for education of all kinds: formal, self-education—many of us are a combination of the two. But there’s no replacing wisdom.

Read Your Way to Success

Many youth I know can spin an argument like a flower without a root. That’s right. They can talk pretty, waft attractive opinions around the room and philosophize like their point is so natural, but when you dig to the bottom of their argument, there’s often nothing feeding it. Nothing in which to give it life. It’s an idea just waiting to wilt.

Many schools have adopted the following as a way to teach children to write: Argumentative (most important), Informative (a close second) and way at the end of the line…Narrative. Now at first glance, this makes sense. I hope my kids are required to debate at least once in their education. I hope they learn how to back up their opinions and make sure they have facts on their side. I hope they know how to research a topic well, and how to educate themselves in and out of the classroom.

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But can you find the whole story within arguments and encyclopedic-style information? My kids are already experts in the art of arguing. They will bring up every angle possible—gather up all the facts they know—and present their cases to me as if lawyers themselves. Honestly, it’s a close cousin to manipulation which is why we don’t allow them to get their way by arguing.

But when confronted with narratives—real life stories, or even fictional stories, kids learn the importance of roots: right and wrong, perseverance, inspiration (To Kill a Mockingbird and The Indian in the Cupboard to name a few).

When goodness sprouts despite the worlds darkness, there must be a root somewhere. Many of us call it God, which may be why institutions that don’t allow that kind of talk adhere to argument.

Please don’t misunderstand me here–my kids go to a great school and have great teachers, but there is always a hiccup, no matter where the classroom is. When studying the plain old facts, my daughter not only has trouble retaining them, but the purpose of learning gets lost on her. “Why should I care about it?”

Then on library day she finds a book about a Jewish girl who lived through World War II—the hatred and anguish that filled this time. Chloe couldn’t stop telling me about. She deeply felt the plight of this girl.

With narrative, people move beyond the argument to action—the kind born from people who really care (and can remember why they should).

May the world be full of bookworms.

A Mother’s Temper Tantrum

The battle with common core reminds me of this right now. My daughter, once so hungry to learn, is often in tears by the end of the evening because of the work load heaped on her shoulders four days a week.
Don’t get me wrong, our educational system is in need of a rebooting, but this most recent answer is not the answer. It’s an attempt to keep up with the Joneses, a misdirected competitive spirit…a show about nothing.
Is more of the same better?
I learned more about history from the field trips taken and novels read than any history date I had to memorize. Really, I mean, I can think about all the time spent in class, trying to learn about our nation as if all it is can be laid out on a spreadsheet—and those memories tell me nothing.

But a Mark Twain novel? I got it. Or the museum we visited where we got to see the muskets and homemade flags up close. That’s when I understood the passion of our forefathers. Traveling the country with family? I see why our ancestors fought so hard to win this land.

So America, instead of extinguishing this 100_3262And stifling this

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Or taking time away from family game night (because no matter how much our kids will learn in the classroom and studying for hours after, they will one day get tired of the faded friendships and broken homes and wonder where our values have gone—what our investments have gained us—how no one lays on their deathbed wishing they had done one more page of spelling words).

Lets come up with a better solution.

I’ve studied Harriet Tubman and Washington, and Lincoln. And what do I see igniting the root of their success? It all just comes from their hearts being in the right place.

What are your thoughts on our educational system? Tell us in the comments.