Have You Really Thought About The Quality Of Your Child’s Public Education?

Who sees your kids more than you do? School teachers. Who has more opportunity to influence your kids than you do? School systems. Yet parents, for the most part, spend less time speaking about or thinking about what is happening at school and what are they being taught. We send them off in the morning expecting to see them at the end of the day but beyond that we don’t give their day much thought. We assume that they are looked after and that they are learning something useful. We trust schools and school systems to know how to do their job and we just accept the fact that when they graduate they will do fine “out there.” That is happening less and less on many fronts.

I often wonder how many parents actually take time at the end of the day to talk with their kids and ask about what they learned at school that day or how did school go today or what was something you learned today that you didn’t know anything about? In other words what happened that was interesting.

And so it goes. Each day the kid goes off to a place that parents know little about being told or given tons of data/facts that really don’t have much relevance to the kids everyday living experience and we, as parents, can’t understand why our kids aren’t crazy about going to school each day and doing better. Could it be that school is long, boring, and not much fun? There are any number of kids that would say the same thing when they get home at the end of the day. It was boring and they ask why they have to learn that stuff. Plus they have an hour or more homework to do for tomorrow and they don’t have a clue how to do it or what to do about it.

They sit in a classroom 6 rows across and 5 rows deep or vice versa for hours listening to a talking head fire data/information at them with the expectation that they will “get it.” And we can’t understand why some kids are trouble makers, disruptive or hard to manage. How many of those get diagnosed with ADD and put on meds?

Many questions remain when I think about the relevance of the current pedagogy and the value and relevance of the curriculum that is presented each new school year.  Talk to some of the teachers and they will tell you what they think is going on but no one seems to hear what it is they are saying. They are trying to tell us that “we have to change how we do school-this system isn’t working.”

Along with those concerns is the bigger problem being the reluctance to change anything or update the overall approach of the public school system as it stands.

I know this much and that is that the system has become virtually unresponsive to the issues being mentioned. It needs to change dramatically and almost immediately if we hope to offer our children a chance to compete with other kids from other countries for challenging, rewarding and high paying jobs.

So how do we do that? Parents–whoever and wherever you are you need to get involved with what is happening with your kids future. That means you will have to become better informed about the options out there for your kids to gain an education that will help prepare them for the professional challenges of the 21st century. There are more options available than you know. The public system, although preferable, is not the only option. But to become more informed you need to talk to your kids and ask the right questions. Be prepared to listen to them because they are the experts on what is or is not working in today’s classrooms. They know what the changes are that need to be made and why they need to be made.

With a great deal of passion, assistance and input from a well informed and motivated group of colleagues and educators I have spent the last three years creating a new approach to educating our kids that addresses many of the issues I mentioned above.

First thing needed is to understand what some of the options are. Check out the differences and the pros and cons of Charter schools, magnet schools, public schools, private schools and home schooling. Once you understand some of the differences and the similarities you can now ask the important questions from the school board members and the trustees and you’ll know more about the quality and validity of the answers you get in return.

I’ll be writing much more about this topic in the weeks to come. I’ll share some of the solutions and suggestions that we came up with as a result of our research and from some of the actual experiences some of my colleagues had that worked in their classrooms but were never considered alternatives or even food for thought.

The following statement is the goal that we have identified for our group. It can be done but only if the parents who really care about the quality and the opportunity their kids receive speak up and are heard.

“To offer a new paradigm regarding a free, non-discriminatory, local, national, and global learner centered education program that merges enthusiasm, participation, and excitement with each learner’s unique differences, a capacity for high performance, and an innate desire to maximize self.”

I’ll be absent next week but I’ll write more about this in two weeks. Eventually I will provide an outline of the program we develop on my web page at jimcloughley.com

Anyways, that’s how I see things, all the best, Jim

 

 

Truth Talkin’ Thursday: Episode #98

Join Jane and I this week as we talk about decisions we make and whether or not we make them considering how they might affect those around us. We often find ourselves in positions of needing to make or wanting to make a decision or decisions that are in our best interests. Is that selfish or is it the way people grow and progress? Any decisions we make have the potential to be  life changing for us. Do we just go ahead and make the change or further the decision we set in motion or should we and do we have the obligation to tell others around us what we are doing ahead of time knowing that they will be affected by what we have decided to do?

Enjoy the conversation and send me your thoughts about what you have heard. Thanks for tuning in–all the best, Jim

jim.lifechoice@gmail.com

 

 

Dress Code? Uniforms? What Would You Wear To Work?

There is a growing controversy centered on or around what kids are wearing to school these days. Out of this comes the debate about whether or not schools need to implement a policy about wearing a school uniform while attending school, imposing a dress code or allowing students to determine their own ideas of “what is appropriate for school” attire. It seems that the last idea is losing ground to the school uniform supporters. Where do the parents fit into all of this?

I often wonder if the parents even care about what their kids look like when they go to school each morning? Does it make any difference to them if Susie is wearing a little top that exposes her red bra and a generous portion of her chest or that Billy has decided to wear his new Joe Boxer underwear with the blue waist band and the generous view of his back side along with the bulk of his jeans hanging in a pile around his knees as he tries valiantly to walk down the front steps to the bus? I think the only people who REALLY care are the manufacturers of the jeans who are grabbing 70 bucks a pair and saying how cool he looks!! I feel badly for Billy in that it seems he can’t determine how to wear his hat. Front to back or back to the front? Does the beak point more to one side or the other?

It’s the schools which seem to be caught in the middle trying to be politically correct and yet trying to support the idea that kids need to be able to express their identities and their characters. Nice way to dodge the responsibility of setting reasonable standards.

To begin with there needs to be some serious dialogue offered to the “rocket scientists” who seem content on blaming a great deal of this controversy on the female population suggesting that dress codes are needed to curb the temptations they project onto the poor defenseless male populations in the school. Apparently these females are compromising the males ability to concentrate on the subject matter and therefore are in danger of not doing well in school. Perhaps they are not doing well because the curriculum is failing to deliver a source of interest for these unfortunate young men and some of the half naked females are a pleasant diversion.

First of all we need to look at the motivation behind the behavior which in this case is the propensity of adolescents to push the boundaries. Kids are being asked/expected to act like adults so they will promote themselves as adults. However, the idea that women should be identified and singled out as the main part of the “problem” is absurd and even more so when they are being told that THEY need to change but the males are free to carry on.

Advertisers and designers have, for years, been the driving force behind how our youth present themselves to the public at large. Nothing has changed except they have focused more on the idea that less is better and suggests more freedom of expression which is, of course, our kids right. So fashion sends the messages to the world in general: It’s more difficult to be accepted if you are not”fashionable.” Tattoos, the car you drive or the shoes you wear are often about the message you want to send to others around you. Males and females have now taken to carrying guns and knives as a way of sending messages to those around them especially at school. Weapons like this have almost become another part of the “current school uniform” as sad as that is to say.

Then there is the style that many kids-females and males alike-demonstrate. Gansta for one, other gang affiliations, the ‘tough guy’ look meant to intimidate and so on. I always think about what the message is supposed to be that these folks are trying to send the rest. Put that inclination in a school setting and there is a recipe for disaster and turmoil and puts education on the back burner for sure.

Lets not lose sight of the prime objective and that is to establish schools as safe and encouraging environments in which to learn. If schools represent the opportunity to learn, grow and develop the skills that will help us live our lives with success as we have defined it. How does getting caught up in the dress code vs. uniform debate help anything. It really has nothing to do with free choice or economics. The choice should not be about dress codes ect. The choices open to learners and the parents of those learners needs to be–are you going to school or not?

Learners need to dress for success meaning in this case that they dress each day as though they were going to work. How would you dress if you were going to work in an office space or as a professional of some sort? The first thing that needs to be done is to show some respect for where you are earning a living. Go to school dressed the same way. It’s an expectation not a debate.

Anyways, that’s how I see things. Thanks for stopping by, all the best, Jim

Comments can be made by contacting me at: jim.lifechoice@gmail.com

(Photo, by abj.eics.ab.ca, is used for education, research or for the purposes of offering criticism only. I derive no financial benefit from the use of this image)

PS–My colleagues and I will soon be unveiling portions of our new paradigm for educating and preparing our kids for the 21st Century. It will revolutionize the way they learn and will do it better than we do it now.  More on this in a couple of weeks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Truth Talkin’ Thursday: Episode #97

Jane and I talk about a topic we have been kickin’ around for awhile and that’s parenting–how our approach has changed how our efforts have changed and how our beliefs, values and message has changed. Kids are growing up faster than ever physically but not so much emotionally and mentally. Although there is always danger in speaking about “absolutes”–(all kids or all parents) it is no secret that many parents have all but stopped being parents in the traditional sense and the kids are paying a high price and so is society and our communities. Yes there are some great kids doing wonderful things but many more who are lost and aimless willing to live from moment to moment. Check out our conversation regarding how we see things today. Comments are welcomed at jim.lifechoice@gmail.com–all the best, Jim

Truth Talkin’ Thursday: Episode #96

Greetings–today Jane and I discuss the concept of fair play and how important it is when thinking about team work and good citizenship. The problem is not a great number of folks see fair play as important in relationships with others but rather see it as weak or not forceful enough to get what you want. There always has to be an angle or some thought about “being smarter than the other guy in order to get ahead.” See how Jane and I view it and then check that against your own  ideas around what fair play is. It too can be used to our advantage without anyone else being treated unfairly.

All the best and thanks for stopping by, Jim    jim.lifechoice@gmail.com  OR jterdik@hotmail.com

 

Parenting Then And Now. . . Is It Really All That Different?

When I look at this image I see 4 people who are older or younger than each other but I can’t tell what they are thinking or how they see the world they live in. I wonder if any of them stop to think about how our world has arrived at it’s present state. What has changed? Why is it so much different from the way it was say 50 years ago. One answer would be how we each parent or parented our children. Now the youngest one pictured in this image hasn’t had any parenting experience and very little life experience but it is what it is and so she has little to compare her present life situation with. Her life is ‘normal’ for what she knows.

Technology has certainly changed many things in terms of how we spend our time. We encourage and expect our kids to grow up much quicker now than before because progress has sped up our living experience. But we need to understand that the brain is a much slower developing organ these days than the human body. Don’t get left behind is the panicked message that most parents send their kids. The pressure to grow up fast and assume responsibility creates a great deal of stress that kids aren’t equipped to handle partially because they have never been taught how to do that. Parents aren’t equipped to do that work because THEY were never taught. It wasn’t necessary during their childhood or at least never acknowledged or spoken of and schools wouldn’t dream of touching that topic in school (check out my web site at jimcloughley.com for more information on what our kids should be learning at school). Over the last two generations thoughts and actions have changed from teaching our children about how to be good citizens to striving to get all they could  and to take care of themselves first. Compassion is not a word that is familiar to a great number of kids today. Bullying, gang violence and mass murders are a visual symptom of this.

As often happens the pendulum of common sense swings so far to one side or the other and does so very quickly. Consequently human beings find it difficult to keep up with the pace of change. Rather than seek a balance between rapid change and thoughtful consideration of facts and experience we jump on the first idea that makes a modicum of sense and go with that forgetting or passing by all the wonderful lessons and ideals from our pasts. These are things that worked for us and helped us navigate the world we lived in when we were growing up. We were guided by the concepts of respect for others and especially our elders, generosity of spirit, accountability for our decisions, hard work and the idea that we were not entitled to anything. If you wanted something you worked for it. Not every kid gets a trophy just for showing up. His/her self esteem will survive such a tragic event.

Today, many parents are at a loss to figure out how to parent their children successfully. I suggest we consider applying the lessons we learned that made a critical impact on the quality of our lives as we grew up and combine them with some of the great messages and some of the new ideas that are based in solid successes of the day. Instead, this generations’ ideas about how to parent have come from reading books and listening to the so called experts. We depend more on what others tell us we should be doing to parent our kids responsibly and not from what we believe, intrinsically, to be true for us.

True that life has changed and we need to change with it. That is not in question. The question is HOW will we do that? Consider how we create and nurture relationships. This simple act has changed dramatically. There are many more common law relationships and many more single parented homes directed mostly by women (exceptional growth of father-less homes) then there were a generation ago. Many parents struggle with just saying “no” believing in the “democratic” parenting method of kids making their own choices. There are times when there should be no options. Instead we, as parents, might need to remove any options until we feel the kid is capable of understanding and accepting the responsibility of making a poor decision. That is called accountability. A weak judicial system needs to be more responsive and creative when dealing with juvenile delinquency. Many children don’t seem to respect others property and physical welfare. They, not their parents, need to pay for the damage they create to society. On and on we go.

As parents we don’t want to risk damaging our kids self-esteem or dent their precious little egos. Yet the incidence of teen suicide creeps higher every year. There is growing evidence of depression at much younger ages and very mixed views on the roles that are presented by women and men.

Our “modern day” parenting approaches and ideas don’t seem to be working well. Perhaps we need to consider what we are NOT doing to parent our children responsibly and return to a time when we held our kids responsible for their behavior. A good place to start I think. There were consequences but also lessons learned that were often the difference between trouble and learning experimentally–a powerful and long lasting way of learning. Just a thought.

Anyways, that’s how I see things today.

All the best, Jim

Comments will find me at:    jim.lifechoice@gmail.com. Please pass this article along to friends and family.

This image (considerable.com) was used for education, research or criticism purposes only. I derive no financial benefit from the use of this image.

Truth Talkin’ Thursdays: Episode #95

Jane and I explore the question of “What are our civic responsibilities”? Do you understand yours? How do you make decisions about defending or acting on what you believe are your civic responsibilities? Would you turn in a friend if you knew he/she was making a few bucks under the table because they were struggling making ends meet?

Check out what we think about this topic and how much of it fits you.

 

 

 

Truth Talkin’ Thursday: Episode #94

Jane and I discuss how some folks try TOO hard at being successful or at being the best parent you can be or wanting to quit smoking. All great to consider but at what cost to you. IF you are miserable or always on edge or not being mindful regarding what is happening to you overall then perhaps you need to find another way to reach your goals. If you are working that hard maybe you need to listen to yourself when yourself says ” this just isn’t the right way to be going about this-this is more harmful than the outcome promises”. Check our the clip below for the rest of the discussion. Thanks for stopping by–all the best, Jim

Comments: Send them to me at  jim.lifechoice@gmail.com

 

What Would This Great Storyteller Have Said . . .

As Paul Harvey might have said: And now for the rest of the story.

Last week I was very critical of 3D printers and the potential disaster they represent to the world as a whole. The technology will make it so much easier to kill others and to exact some wild idea of fair play. I went on to talk about how dangerous it will make the world and how it will be for those who are brave enough to try and defend  our way of life and to protect our civil rights. I think of those who concern themselves with the safety of our homes and family. They risk their well being to ensure our security. I’m still fearful of that being jeopardized by somebody with an ax to grind. I understand the frustration and the unfairness–I do. But if that is the only way that we can show our displeasure and anger then we need to go back to the drawing board because it only strengthens the true forces of evil that exist around us. It slides right into the argument that we need to protect ourselves when it is these same forces of evil that we are concerned about. The ‘bad guys’ get more entrenched and legitimate citizens pay the price.

With all that said I must say that the video that follows my offering today has certainly made me sit up–shut up–and pay attention to all the good that 3D printers and that technology can provide for many of us. It is amazing what can be done to further our efforts to provide for many of those who can’t because of a lack of resources or political will.

The advances and designs of medical equipment will be upon us at light speed. I doubt that we be able to keep up with the changes in our personal, industrial, and scientific lives either. Just about anything that we can see or conceive will be duplicated and improved upon using 3D technology. Any of you remember the 6 million dollar man with Lee Majors? Inside of ten years that fantasy is likely to be a reality. There are already or near ready some designs and plans to build a functioning heart for human use. Those who have lost limbs to accident, disease or birth defects will opportunities to use artificial joints and organs that are only dreamed of today.

I guess my thinking has changed somewhat although I still believe that there will be an element who will always pervert progress. In this case the benefits certainly outweigh the drawbacks as this video suggests.

I applaud this father who refused to give up and instead fashioned a solution to his little boy’s problem. That’s what Dads are supposed to do and this man does it in spades.

Anyways, that’s how I see things, thanks for stopping by.

All the best, Jim

Any and all comments will reach me at: jim.lifechoice@gmail.com

 

 

 

Truth Talkin’Thursday: Episode #93

Join Jane and I this week as we talk about “how to slow down time”. As we get older it seems as though time goes by faster. Christmas isn’t THAT far off folks. Join us and then send your thoughts about this to us at jim.lifechoice@gmail.com  OR   jterdik@hotmail.com. If you have any great ideas about how to do this–be sure to share them and we’ll put them out there for others to enjoy.

Enjoy and thanks for stopping by, all the best, Jim

 

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