I wish I could say that hearing of another 8-year-old wanting to die is a rare occurrence for me. It has become so common that I must write today to implore each and every one of us to examine how anything like this is even remotely possible! And why so many of us have become habituated to it! When the mother of this child explained the degree of pressure he feels at school, though an excellent student and classroom citizen, it affirmed for me yet again to continue my effort to wake us all up to live, love, and educate a different way. Educators and parents alike know the toll the pace of our way of life is having on our children (and on us!). All of it is too much, too soon, too fast, as many of you have heard me say before. We have bought into the myth that “more equals more” when, in fact, more academics, more homework, more testing, more teaching to the test has led to greater shut down – a deeply hopeless, powerless state that can be so difficult to get our children out of once they have reached it. I am dumbfounded that more of us – educators AND parents – are not taking a louder, more determined stance to end this “race to nowhere.” To ensure that our children are more supported to joyfully engage in the marathon of education (it is not a sprint we hope they survive), some wonderful things are happening that we can be a part of to restore all our lives back to balance and thus greatness:
1. Communities of people all over the country and beyond are putting their efforts into reducing and modifying homework loads so they actually increase achievement as opposed to decrease achievement, which is what is happening now. Learn more at www.racetonowhere.com and www.stopthehomework.com.
2. Others are gathering together to decrease and modify testing so that creative, beautiful teaching can still happen in a way that keeps both teachers and students interested, motivated, and engaged in the educational process. Learn more at www.saveourschoolsmarch.org and www.fairtest.org. I, myself, bought the domain name www.stopthetesting.org fully intending to start at the very least a petition to overturn No Child Left Behind. (Anyone want to take this on with me?)
3. Ten states – Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oklahoma, and Tennessee – are free from No Child Left Behind. They are instead forging ahead in their development of more creative ways to measure what students are learning. A total of 28 other states are planning to flee the law in favor of their own plans. Pennsylvania, Texas, and California are NOT among them. What is up with that?!
4. Blogs like mine are giving parents and educators everywhere a chance to learn how we can be living, loving, and teaching differently so that more and more of our teachers and children are excited to go to school everyday, no matter what their age and stage of education. It is the greatest joy of my life to see my own son jump out of bed every morning because he can’t get to his Waldorf school fast enough (learn more at www.whywaldorfworks.org). Please visit and revisit my archive of blogs at www.drmelrose.com to be reminded of how important it is to slow things down, use fewer words, go more sensory, and have more fun! Recent neuroscience continues to prove how essential these choices are to the robustness of our brain so we can and will achieve anything and everything we want.