Letter: Educating our children

Graphic by Lori Deaton

Parents and our local schools have a profound moral and spiritual responsibility of educating our children. Our national way of life reflected in politics, the media, colleges, entertainment, sports and religion share this responsibility, and we in the Asheville area need to accept this responsibility in our small part of the world.

The education of our children is paramount. Parents can’t change the world but can act locally in calling for changes in our schools. I retired from teaching in 1996, and today I’m reading about the same problems and political rhetoric as I did in my 29 years of teaching. In fact, I retired early because of the bureaucratic struggling for control in our system. In many ways, it’s still with us.

Dedicated teachers are truly child-centered. And there are programs in schools across the country that strive in creative, meaningful ways. There is a force in the universe — call it God or Spirituality or whatever you like — a force toward truth and justice reflecting the energy of love. This force reflects a sacred participation that will help us if we are patient, steady and humble. We must never, ever give up! No one escapes responsibility.

Teachers need parents who ask, “What is my child curious about?” — not how did he/she do on the test. And teachers should ask parents, “What is your child curious about?” Schools are not waiting rooms for our youths, but an active development of what it is to be human on a global scale.

Parents, teachers and all concerned citizens, challenge yourselves! Today’s schooling prepares our youths for competing and fitting into the American way of life that is dysfunctional, a broken system putting profits and wealth before people. All this, while mouthing family values and spending outrageous money on wars instead of adequately funding our public schools. All of us are responsible to ensure that our youths develop the knowledge, strength, hope and courage to find their place in life.

And our youths are up to it. It’s evident in extracurricular activities such as drama, debate teams, journaling, collaborative learning, community service akin to an apprentice mode of learning geared to engage students. Recent polls of millions of students show 75% of fifth graders feel engaged while 32% of 11th graders feel engaged.

Despite our flawed democratic and economic system, our species continues the evolutionary longing for unity and freedom through compassion, love and forgiveness. Democracy is a nonviolent process in the political world that is not perfect, but the trend moves forward, taking what is best of the past that is life-giving and opens to new teachings to pass on to our children.

History has been and is now continually graced with people who somehow learned to act beyond and outside their self-interest and for the good of the world. I call this “sacred activism” — a “blessed unrest”: a force in the universe that many call the God mystery, the source of all things. Activists, believers and nonbelievers alike represent all the great religions, motivated from an inner sense that we are all one. Asheville’s uniqueness mirrors this in various ways. Along with the countless unrecognized activists, our local activists continue their efforts to inform the public on issues of peace and justice. Parents and teachers need our active support in guiding our youth.

I have been concerned over the years with the military industrial complex, but I now see that our way of life includes the educational industrial complex, media industrial complex and the recent scandal in the college admission industrial complex; everything tied into the capitalistic system and an individualistic way of life that has overwhelmed and corrupted our democratic system.

“Oh God, we have gained the whole world of wealth and military power; yet we are troubled, lost and insecure. Please help us to find the way to our longing for peace and justice with the energy of love that can heal us.”

Contact esacco189@gmail.com for comments.

— Ed Sacco
Asheville

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4 thoughts on “Letter: Educating our children

  1. Mike R.

    There are tree main problems with primary education today.
    1) The quality and professionalism of teachers is not what it once was. This is due to the fact that women have many more better paying opportunities in the job market than in years past. So a win in that area has resulted in a loss in another. Teachers in the first 7 decades of the 20th century were almost all women. Dedicated and effective.
    2) You can’t get rid of bad/mediocre teachers. This impacts number 1 above because the answer to that problem is significantly higher salaries to attract the brightest and the best. But state governments are loathe to go there because they see this (correctly) as paying alot of mediocre teachers very high salaries and not getting really good teachers into the system.
    3) The third issue trumps the first two. Society has gotten lazy. This is what happens when things get too good. Many children do not have good parents and by that I mean parents that know how to discipline, encourage, mentor, love and support. Many poor kids do not have two parents or any parents for that matter. Wealthier families may not necessarily provide the right stuff to their children in spite of all their money. As a society, we’ve become lazy in our parenting (how many parents let their young children stay engrossed with smartphones, computer games, etc.). This translates directly to education results.

    The problem cannot be solved until societal values change back to where they came from. Throwing money and wizz-bang teaching systems at the problem will not work.

    • luther blissett

      1/2. Don’t know till you try it. The underlying point is that “women’s jobs” are systemically underpaid and undervalued, and this can be seen in skilled professions when the gender balance shifts. (For instance, medical specialties that were once male-dominated see compensation stall out when more women become specialists.)
      3. In the 1700s it was just about possible for a single person to know everything there was to be known in that person’s cultural domain, limited by the available amount of knowledge and the tools to make new observations. Modern science put paid to the enlightenment polymath. The children of 2019 know more stuff than the children of the 1950s because there is more stuff to know and there are more ways to find the stuff to know. (That some of that stuff is toxic garbage is a bigger problem, and one of the jobs of education in the 21st century is to teach students to evaluate the information they absorb. This is not “indoctrination.”)

      The kids are alright. I’m more worried about the 70-somethings who’ve regressed in their senior years and are engrossed in cable news or Facebook memes. They’re the ones showing up to vote or setting policy in government.

      • Enlightened Enigma

        Many of those ’70-somethings’ are probably WAY more conservative than you and your tribe…. and they vote!

    • ED

      THANKS FOR YOUR THOUGHTS. THIS COULD HAVE BEEN WRITTEN DURING THE 1960s WHEN I ENTERED
      THE TEACHING PROFESSION. THE FOCUS IS MORE ON POLITICS THAN ON CHILDREN & TODAY WE
      SEE THE RESULTS: THE DISUNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

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