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A Parent’s Guide to Prioritizing Emotional Well-Being

November 19, 2019

A wonderful and thought provoking read, this Modern Learners article has two particularly excellent sections. The first, titled “Doing the wrong thing “righter” distinguishes between “doing things right” and “doing the right thing” and suggests that schools too often focus on “doing things right”:

Doing things right is about efficiency – i.e., how do we manage lots of kids in a school building safely and efficiently. We do this through the establishment of uniformity. We group kids by age not because they are similar, but because it is convenient. We organize instruction by subject, not because the world is neatly organized by subject, but because it is convenient. Doing the right thing is about effectiveness. Our current system of education here in the U.S. (and around the world) is replete with stories of attempts to doing things right, school consolidation, common core standards, large-scale “accountability” assessments. As Ackoff points out, it should surprise no one that these efforts have born little fruit. In his own words, Ackoff notes that focusing on doing things right just makes the situation “wronger”. After 30+ years of doing school right, NAEP schools remain flat, ACT scores are falling, achievement gaps continue and instances of childhood stress, anxiety, and depression have reached epidemic proportions!

And in the next paragraph answers the question: WHAT IS THE RIGHT THING TO DO? 

Here we’ll turn to Clark Aldrich who has suggested that there are three purposes for education: 1- To help kids learn how to learn; 2- To help kids learn how to do 3- To help kids learn how to be.

The final section of the article, aptly headed In Conclusion, describes the best method for introducing change into a sclerotic system like public education: begin discussing the need for change with a question based on a fact instead of an assertion based on a preconceived idea. In the case of this article, Dr. James Ryan suggests looking at the fact that 70% of kids surveyed characterized anxiety/depression as a “major problem and then posing a series of questions based on that finding:

I wonder what we are doing in our families, in our schools, in our society that is causing this dramatic rise among our youth. I wonder if my kids feel like they belong at their school? I wonder what school policies/practices my kids find stressful?

I wonder what we could do differently in our families, in our schools, in our society that could make a difference. I wonder why we still have grades, age grouped classes, separate subjects? I wonder what would happen if, like some schools, we tried to eliminate them?

Couldn’t we at least try? Should we just keep doing what we are doing even though we know it’s making kids anxious?

How can we help one another?

What really matters?

Instead of opening with MY answers to these questions, Dr. Ryan suggests we open the dialogue session by asking: “what are yours?”

By engaging parents and the public in this kind of inquiry, we might begin doing the right thing instead of doing the wrong thing better.

Source: A Parent’s Guide to Prioritizing Emotional Well-Being

Categories: Uncategorized
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