Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The State of Education

When I attended elementary school in the United States, Teacher was God and the Principal was Uber-God.  The idea of questioning a statement or a decision was out of bounds, we all assumed that our teacher, being a Meta-Human, didn't need to go to the bathroom.

I hated missing a day of school because I thought that every day a crucial piece of information was being transmitted to the class, and I don't remember taking more that two or three sick days.  Leaving for family vacation a day or two early before Winter Break? Never.  It would go on your "permanent record."

Flash forward to the 21rst century, in Jerusalem, Israel.  Every week Raphaela's first grade teacher chooses four girls to be her assistants, and at the end of the week these four girls host a festive breakfast.  My daughter was chosen this week, and when she told me, she expressed excitement mixed with concern.

"Mommy, is something wrong with my teacher? Isn't she supposed to know how to do everything? Why does she need six year old assistants?"

Holding back a smirk, I explained that it is most important in life to learn how to ask for help, even if you can do everything by yourself.  I also stressed that now that she is in first grade, a big girl, it is so great that she and her friends are old enough to take responsibility for some part of the class room experience.

And yet, every time I see the Principal of Raphaela's school, I say good morning and smile.  Because I haven't let go of all the awe and picture of infallibility of educators, and a little kissing up doesn't hurt anyone.


Raphaela has a school-sponsored activity in Art on Wednesdays.  She generally loves doing projects of all kinds, and there is a fair amount of these displayed on a shelf in our kitchen.

Last week, Raphaela told me that the noise level and the smell of the glue bothered her, and that she was having a hard time enjoying the art lesson.  We came to an agreement that she would try to adapt, and I gave her a few suggestions to get through the hour.

"But I want to learn drawing from a real artist, like you Mommy."

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