Restoring Virtue and Excellence to Education

It’s been an unusually full week.  I’ve prayed with anxious teens and comforted frightened moms.  I’ve confronted deception and applauded growth.  I’ve rejoiced with success and called out irresponsibility.  I’ve cried with families in crisis and laughed with others who find themselves on smooth paths.  It’s been a rich week -full of challenges and full of blessings but it’s Friday, and I have yet to develop a post for this week’s blog.  Yikes! Two weeks ago, I wrote about errors in thinking behind perfectionism and last week my post was about other thinking errors that stand in the way of pursuing excellence. This week I have largely copied for you two excerpts that shed light on cultural mindsets that have led to a lowering of standards in American education. The first one is written about the state of school in general and the second one addresses private school education. Pathways to Prosperity Project: Harvard Graduate School of Education February, 2011 “As we end the first decade of the 21st Century, there are profoundly troubling signs that the U.S. is now failing to meet its obligation to prepare millions of young adults.  In an era in which education has never been more important to economic success, the U.S. has fallen behind many other nations in educational attainment and achievement.  Within the U.S. economy, there is also growing evidence of a “skills gap” in which many young adults lack the skills and work ethic needed for many jobs that pay a middle-class wage.  Simultaneously, there has been a dramatic decline in the ability of adolescents and young adults to find work.”...

Our Not-So-Empty "Empty Nest"

Resurrecting the Role of the Extended Family (More on Education after Easter) The epiphany came to me one day, while I was chatting with a woman by the beautiful Deschutes River in downtown Bend, Oregon.   Her two boys were grown and she lived nearby within a block of both sons. She remarked on the joy she found in her grandchildren as well as the immense fulfillment she gained in remaining actively involved with their families. I, on the other hand, had naively assumed that our three kids would likely move away someday leaving Glen and I to live out retirement apart from them.  Wasn’t that the common American way? New thoughts flickered within me that day igniting into a hopeful dream, one that I now see as the path God had designed for our family, and He orchestrated this “chat” down by the river to bring me into the loop!  Could we – would we- remain close knit and possibly even live near all of our kids when they married and had their own families?  The prevailing culture promoted the idea that healthy families keep a “safe” distance from each other in adult life, that an “empty nest” was something to look forward to.  Yet, I was well aware that other cultures held to an entirely different idea of family – a wider concept that included grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins – one that assumed ongoing closeness and interdependence. I started to pray differently. Our kids did move out of Oregon and we found ourselves separated by distance from them for a season. But by God’s grace, and a...

Stressing Over Educational Choices?

Choices. Americans face an overly abundant array of choices on a daily basis. And making decisions, regardless of how small, can elevate stress. From selecting that perfect cup of coffee to the most suitable laptop, we ponder a mammoth variety of options at every turn. Selecting the right school, from kindergarten to college, however ranks at the top of “choice stress” for parents. Education is an integral part of our culture.  Education is an emotionally charged topic and one that consumes much time, finances and energy.  When you consider that kids sleep over one third of the time, a significant portion of their conscious hours from age five to adulthood are spent in some form of structure intended to encourage learning. Even with school choice, the options are rapidly increasing.  Magnet and charter schools are cropping up within the public system.  New private schools are opening doors in record setting numbers. Home school families manage hundreds of choices from curriculum options to a variety of co-ops and partnerships. Confusion and anxiety over school choice grows as parents consider the growing number of alternatives available to them. By contrast, my kid’s K-12 education took place in Bend, Oregon in the 80’s and 90’s, when school options were limited.  We could not afford the tuition for the couple of private schools that did exist and homeschooling was barely off the ground with very limited resources, so we jumped in and got very involved with our kids in the public schools. (We often wondered how all three kids would financially get through college, but by God’s grace and provision, they made it. ...