Wednesday, July 15, 2009

School's not cool

We have made a new friend, Paul, from Kenya. He eats with us frequently and shares many stories of his country and home. He has already become such a blessing to our family- enlarging our hearts and opening our eyes to a world beyond our own trivial worries.

Last night he was sharing about school in Kenya. Students have to pay for uniforms, books and school fees to attend school. It is a great privilege to attend school. Children cry if they have to stay home from school for any reason and walk many miles sometimes to get an education.

I shared that overall, the perspective of US school children is disappointingly different. Most don't want to go to school. Teenagers work hard to skip school and many drop out as soon as they are old enough in favor of going their own way.

He was not surprised, just shook his head and said wisely, as he often seems to do, "They do not understand that 'I am because we are, and we are because I am. (from Desmund Tutu I think he said)'" He went on to explain that in Kenya, children know and understand that their entire existence is dependant on the "we" and the fate of the "we" is dependant on the responsibility (or lack thereof) of the individual. So if I am successful in school, I can help my whole family and whole community. If I squander my chances, I may indirectly or directly cause the death of my family members, friends and community because I become a burden to them, a mouth to feed that can not contribute as effectively as one who pursues his opportunities- whatever they may be- farming, education, etc.

So, short of exposing our children to the travesites of poverty and death, how do our children learn a sense of "we." How do they come to the important realization that their actions, even as young adolescents, will have far reaching effects for their children, their husbands and wives and even their grandchildren? From teaching this age for a few years, I would assert that they have little to NO understanding of cause and effect that transcends their own lives. Psychologists say this is a normal phase of their development- that adolescents are trapped in a "me" world that is healthy and normal until they move onto the next phase of their development. But is that entirely true? It may help us understand them but should we let them languish there? What can we do to broaden their perspectives? And in so doing broaden our own as adults.

I am because we are, and we are because I am.


Sarah Jackson said...

Great blog, Erin. Asking questions that every parent, and every Christian, should be asking!

amberly said...

part of what we can do is post blogs like this. when i read it, my heart jumps at the possibility of really living like that. of showing my kids. and yours. i love that my daughter gets to hang out at your house sometimes, because she'll see this direction toward "WE" there. you bless me, friend.

Kim and Joel said...

Awesome post Erin! Thank you for your insight and for asking those questions. It is so encouraging to know there are parents out there teaching this and asking themselves how to do this!

Simile Metaphor Collection

Elijah after running: My heart is beating like a coconut rolling down a hill.
Elijah on urination: Pee is like horses galloping out of the gate. Once they get started you just can't stop them.
Elijah: If school were a human I'd give it a wedgie.
Elijah: I am like a hot rod and I just want to be a plain old Ford
Elijah on the fruits of the spirit: I've got them all covered except self-control. Its like a tiny green tomato and the rest are all big ripe ones. Especially love. Its like the biggest tomato we saw in the garden tonight.