Friday, June 1, 2012

Taking the Reins

As I immerse myself in the current research and discussions on the topic of student motivation, I'm feeling both frustrated and relieved.  Relieved because there are so many thoughtful researchers and educators who are tuned into this issue, and frustrated because the information and dialogues seem to involve such a small group of people.  In my experience as a parent who was very involved in my children's classrooms for the years they attended (a charter school and a public elementary school), and through my discussions with my network of family and friends, I have seen little evidence that any of the ideas for engaging students in the classroom and creating opportunities for them to drive their own education have "trickled down" into the typical school environment.  There are many reasons for this, and I know there are many experts and politicians who are talking about fixing the US public education system, but for those with kids in school now, there's no time to wait.

So on the individual level, as parents and teachers, we're going to have to do this -- to lead the way and make sure our kids get the best education possible. And this will likely require developing a plan that includes a variety of different resources from outside of the classroom:  assisted homework, family projects that apply classroom learning, summer classes, tutors, internships, mentors, and more.  This may sound like too much work for the many families who are already tremendously time-constrained, and there's no doubt that time and energy will be required, but I honestly believe it's doable, and that even small changes will have an impact.

Therefore, this is my mission with this blog:  to support families who are trying to do the best for their children's education with limited time and finances.  I will bring the most relevant and useful information, tools, and ideas I can to this space and will, as frequently as possible, describe my own successes and failures in incorporating different methods and tools in educating my own sons. And along the way, I hope to build a network of supportive families who can share their own experiences and help inspire us all.

"It's no use saying, 'We are doing our best.' 
You have got to succeed in doing what is necessary."
-Winston Churchill

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