One of my earliest memories of fourth grade is sitting in class listening with rapt attention to my teacher reading a mystery story about a castle. Somehow the title is long forgotten. Oh, how I wished she would read out loud all the time and skip math lessons. The other strong elementary school memory is my hours in the awesome school library. I became a library assistant, filing cards and learning the Dewey Decimal System. The best part was handling all the books and challenging myself to read authors like Madeleine L’Engle and John Steinbeck. Books took me away from my troubles at home and on the playground. Books were like a vacation for my brain!
Fast-forward a few decades to my kitchen table where a mass of local teens hangs out quite frequently. I’m on about my third conversation with different kids about the importance of reading and I just can’t believe another young adult (two years from voting) is telling me that “they just don’t like to read,” or “I just don’t care to read.” I’m thinking to myself, this is a crisis in the making.
I home schooled my two children who are well into their teen years and I’m really glad we spent LOTS of time reading and discussing history and current events from the beginning. I see now how it was vital to developing their critical thinking skills. So many of their peers don’t have this ability, worse yet, they think the decision to be a reader on par with deciding that they don’t like spinach! This is scary to me for obvious reasons.
Would you believe me if I told you that everything I know to be true about education in America has come from my observations of illiteracy creeping into the population?
I decided to home school my children long before I had them. It was a miracle that I found Kim at a tag sale where we began discussing education. Out of this conversation came many glorious years educating our children together and developing a philosophy of education. We schemed and planned by night the curriculum and art projects we would do with the kids all the while making sure we tackled stacks of great books. That decision has paid rich rewards.
Now that my children are busy in their teen years, my daughter a freshman in college, my son a junior in public high school, I am listening intently to that world in which they revolve. I see how sensitive these years are and how much teens are still affected by their parent’s long ago and present actions. My heart is with them as they try to make sense of this world. I want to gather them together as much as I can to encourage them and love them.
So, that’s who I am and what I’m about these days.