Step 2 - REFLECT: Page 3

Thursday
Jul012010

What Are My Own Influences?

This page covers:

  • How to factor your school experience into your school vision
  • Questions to guide your decision making process

What can I learn from my own school experiences?  This is a formal invitation to visit and recognize your own biases.  We all have them – whether it be a preference for a schoolyard with a tire swing just like your first school, or a distaste for classrooms with lime green walls like the room ruled by your witch of a fourth grade teacher.  We all carry mixtures of success and frustration from our school years. The key is recognizing what you can apply from your past to benefit your child, and what you should leave out of the equation.

Start by taking a clear look at how you and your child are similar, and how you’re different.  Think especially on what engaged you as a child and whether those kinds of activities engage your child as well. 

Another way to get a handle on how you may be projecting your own experience in the school decision is to reflect on how you sum up your school years:

"School was just fine.”

Often we hear people say that their school experience was “just fine,” suggesting that following suit on a “just fine” experience would be acceptable.  We don’t argue with that.  But consider turning that expectation up a notch.  What if your child could be truly engaged and impassioned at school?  How would that experience early in life have made a difference for you?

"I loved school."

Lucky you!  You have the enviable position of mining your past for what worked.  What made you like school so much and be so engaged?  And are these things that would similarly inspire your child? 

"I hated school."

Bummer.  So you probably have a laundry list of what you want to correct for your child.  But try to home in on the top three things that you really don’t want repeated this time around, assuming they would be similarly hazardous to your child’s enthusiasm for school. 

Your childhood school years, no matter how good or bad, give you the wisdom to shape your child’s education.  Even if you don’t find the perfect school (no school is!) you’ll still be able to influence his or her relationship to learning.  Let your answers to these questions guide your decisions:

  • What did you love about your school experiences as a child?
  • What 3-5 things about your childhood do you definitely want your child to have too?
  • If you could magically go back and alter some of the decisions that your parents made about your schooling, what would they be?
  • What was the year(s) that you remember being most engaged and excited about learning?  What combination of things made that year(s) so rich for you?
  • How could different schooling choices have made a difference for you?

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