Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Now I Know my ABCs...

I just realized lately that I've been involved in Education my whole life, first as a student then as administrator, teacher, interpreter, volunteer, I was one of those school mom's who was always in my kids classrooms, I would teach the kids in their class Spanish as a volunteer. I didn't want to be the President of the PTA much less their entourage I wanted to gift the kids who were my children's friends and neighbors with the ability that was innate to me, what came natural which was my birth language.

I have seen so many changes in the amazing evolution of education. My trajectory is interesting because with the standards that Education has nowadays I would have definitely qualified for special education services. This is the recollection I have of my childhood education which is not really a lot because I didn't like going to school too much, for one I used to live right across the street from my school, it was a private bilingual school instead of the Jewish Paroquial School all my cousins and Jewish friends went to. So every time we went to Temple where my dad used to work as an administrator, which was just about every Friday night for Shabat Services, or to the CDI every weekend, I never had anything in common with all the kids that were there. I mean we played the same but then they'd go away to their lives and I went off to a different life experience.

My dad would say that his priority was that we speak English, so instead of sending us to Jewish Paroquial School to learn values and exotic languages like Hebrew, to find out first hand about our heritage and go on trips with my friends to Israel and be with all those kids that we were surrounded by in every event that we attended. We were Jews in a land of otherwise Catholic Indoctrination so we stuck together as a group.

We'd go to the "Centro Deportivo Israelita de México" CDI or the JCC here in the US. You have to understand that my father was "The Master of Ceremonies" for the Jewish Community, he broke the barriers and would MC for Ashkenazi as well as Sefaradic Jews. There was then a palpable separation. We each gravitated to our own, as if we were a different species. I never understood that part of the community.

So my education having been a totally other face of the coin in a way wound up alienating me from those friends I would frequent whenever I was not in school. I never felt like I belonged on either side. I always felt "Parallel Parked in a Perpendicular World".

I remember not being able to retain all the information that was being given by the teachers, I'm not sure if it was because my mind wondered and I couldn't stay focused enough to pay attention because that still happens to me these days, so if I didn't get what was being taught from the very beginning I would start to fall behind more as the year went on because I could never catch up. The funny thing about this whole pattern which is what it became, is that nobody ever taught me the way I was able to learn like they do to children these days through special education services.

It is impressive to see how precise they are with every single child who doesn't fall within the average for learning. I would get sent bad report cards and corrected in front of all the students. The one thing I remember like it was yesterday is always choosing to sit all the way in the back of any class. I remember Alex and José Antonio on each side of me, we would tell jokes and laugh, pass little notes when we were not paying attention to the teacher. There were subjects I liked more than others like English, Music, Art, History, French, Geography, all those were good subjects for me. I was Never very good at Math or Physics!

Then once I finished my formal education, where I never really had to intermingle and blend with the Jewish community during the time when we were being formed in a way through our education and our beliefs, I began to resent and look at all the things I didn't like about my own community. I do remember when we made the decision to leave México behind and move to the United States,  I was happy to leave that community behind, to me they seemed superficial and money driven. Don't take me wrong I'm proud to be Jewish, but to me to be Jewish is just honoring something my Ancestors left me as Traditions. They give more meaning and enrichment to our lives.

With my children's education I wound up doing the same my parents did with me, only I sent them to the Public School in our neighborhood. School was blocks away from home but I still drove them every day and picked them up. We had this little routine going that we'd go across to a darling Deli to eat something or even just get Ice Cream.

I am very lucky in that both my children are very intelligent. My daughter however was the more focused of the two, my son just wanted to play. She'd turn in her homework well done and at the right time and he'd leave it to the very last moment and did just an ok job. I'm sure he could have been helped with today's special education because he is incredibly intelligent, math is a piece of cake for him, he does calculations in his mind that should be done with a calculator but the challenge that he has is his focus, his ability to remain focused for a prolonged periods of time. That's my challenge too so I understand it very well.

Nowadays they pay complete attention to each child and the moment they see there is something stopping them from learning at the same pace as the general student population their age they intervene and call for a meeting of all their teachers to discuss how they can help him/her learn better. Then there are the meetings with the parents of the child to present this program of special education, then if the parents don't speak English they have an interpreter who translates every word the panel is saying and back to the panel what the parent had to say in the form of a comment or a question.

They proceed to do a full evaluation of the student to find the areas of need, back again to the meetings and finally they implement the help in the areas of need.

To me this is very impressive because there are so many resources being used for each and every child in education these days, none of which was the case during my education or at a MUCH smaller scale during my own children's education and that's only 20 yrs. ago.

So it's clear that I have been witness to the many changes that education has experienced in the last 65 yrs. I've been on this earth. And I just covered the bare minimum changes otherwise I could talk about each thing and turn this into a book, but that wasn't my purpose for this entry. I just wanted to illustrate once more that us humans are constantly trying to improve the ways in which to thrive while we are alive, but if I take a peek inside and see the results of the changes vs the way education was given in my days I think I'd chose my days for various reasons.

For one students were a bit intimidated by our teachers. That little bit of intimidation however promoted Respect. I don't remember any of my school classmates ever disrespecting a teacher. If you did they'd send you to the principal right away and our principal, Professor Carrión, was this AMAZING! man from Spain. He was handsome with a deep voice and always a smile on his face. He was adored by everyone, we never wanted Professor Carrión to have to tell us that we were not behaving the way he expected us to behave.

Nowadays many kids do what they want like take out their cell phones in class to text or play games and the teacher has to call the parent to tell them to reprimand the child or else and has to give him a few warnings before he takes that phone away that shouldn't be brought to school to begin with. I took this photograph at my daughter's graduation from Northeastern University in Boston. I rest my case! I've been in school events where they give gifts to pre-school and kindergarten age parents to attend so they can teach them how to parent. They go through so many things that I consider to be common sense that it makes me wonder if we are not taking away their ability to use their own.

Many parents don't know how to handle their children, a lot more children are rebellious, there is more emphasis on special education for each child and perhaps in generations to come we will be able to tell if this was effective, but what I believe is there are too many rules, too much structure, too much focus on the weaknesses, too much one on one education. If I had gotten that type of structure during my education maybe I could have been better and many other things like Math, but I didn't have it and I made it anyways. Only I did by forcing myself to find the strength in my weaknesses and to take full advantage of my strengths.

I use math all the time and I know what I need to know to get by, I would be the worst accountant in the world because I don't like it but I'm considered to be very good at what I do like to do and that's all a human needs to live a fulfilled, happy, productive, creative life.

I think the less the structure the more you have to challenge yourself to learn what you love which in the end is really all you need to know.  I honestly could not tell you how many classes I've taken since I left my formal education so many years ago, anywhere from Photography, ceramics and hundreds of crafts to the Hebrew language that I wanted to learn so bad when I was a child and the reason I believe I was able to focus in what I was learning and not during my childhood education is because I was learning what I love doing.

I am successful at what I do and so are my children whom I gave all the freedom to chose what they wanted to do and how they wanted to learn. It was I the parent who made sure they do their homework and read, that they went to school on time and well dressed, that they were respectful and courteous, that they develop a charming caring personality and the results are there. Two productive caring very successful human beings.

Even how parents raise their children has changed from the totally uninvolved to the other extreme where in both of those cases ends up breaking a child's spirit. It's those who manage to maintain the balance that are more likely to see a better outcome in the lives of their children.

Now I Know my ABCs...

Hugs xoxo

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