2.09.2010

Stepping Off

Things have been stressful the last month or so.  Some of it could be do to overscheduling, that is true, but there is something else that I have not been able to put my finger on.  Today I finally pinned it down.  Stepping off the "conveyor belt" is quite unnerving.  There are so many "what if's" in the process!! "What if my kids don't follow the leadership pattern?" "What if I'm not a good enough mentor?"  "What if I don't do things exactly right?" "What if my kids don't learn anything or fall behind?"  "What if my mom (husband, neighbor, friend, cousin . . . ) doesn't like it?"  These are the questions I've been asking myself, and I'm sure many others have had similar thoughts before me. 

This weekend in my reading I decided to keep track of Conveyor Belt Thinking vs. Leadership Education Thinking.  Here is what I came up with (from Leadership Education by the DeMilles):

Conveyor Belt

Lessons learned: to copy, to count, to compare
Result: dependable followers

*Creates fear that the child won't "measure up"
*Require or push child to "fit the system"
*Students are expected to copmlete assignments
*The "generation gap" is deemed normal and healthy
*Parents/adults applaud kids' activities from a distance
*Promotes comparisions

Leadership Education

Lessons Learned: to create, to value, to impact
Result: responsible leaders

*Creates the assumption that the child will meet & exceed expectations
*Mentors build a system around the child's strengths
*Parents get their assignments from the kids/youth
*Listening & discussing together bridges "the gap"
*Parents/adults get involved in the child's interests (not overboard)
*Teaches the individual student to value - look at things as they really are

This side by side comparison has really helped me to see the differences between the two and to more clearly see which side of the fence I am on.  Before making this list, I thought of Leadership Education in a box (as I see most things) of "to do's" and "not to do's":  Inspire, not require; Time, not Content; Classics, Not Textbooks, etc.  When looking at it that way, Leadership Education seems very limiting, confusing and stressful.  For instance, I worry when I use a textbook or give them an assignment or require something (other than housework) and think I must be failing my children by not "doing it right."  Maybe many of us struggle with this concept because of how education has become in our country.  We rate children on their test scores rather than their character.  We worry more about them "falling behind" than helping others who are behind.  We measure our worth and the worth of our children by what they do, rather than who they are

With this new perspective, I have realized that this philosophy really much more than the boxed "to do" lists.  Leadership Education is primarily about the relationship.  Leadership Education is about the heart of the matter, not the external output.  Leadership Education is a very positive philosophy.  I have recognized my lack of enthusiasm with the kids lately (that could be because I have a two year old!!) because I am more concerned about "am I doing it right?" rather than just doing it!! 

So, what am I doing now to be sure I am moving forward?  I am building my math library - - fun math books, games, biographies, etc.  I am thinking outside the box for more projects that I can do with the kids. For instance, last week I took the kids to a friend's hobby farm where she has a lot of rabbits for my rabbit-loving daughter to see and learn more.  Today we built a mini-greenhouse because we're working on a wheelbarrel garden.  I am trying to pay more attention to the tone and relationships within the walls of our home.  I am reading books that I've never even thought of before and completely fascinated by them.  I'm having FEC with my husband (yay!). 

And I'm really learning more about myself!  I'm learning that I can do these things with the kids (again, having a baby/2-year-old has kept me a little closer to home, too much activity leads to too much stress).  I am learning, too, that everything does NOT need to be planned out before we can follow through and that it is worth the effort to JUST DO IT!

Yes, I still do worry that they will "fall behind" and comparing myself with others, but each week I make just one slight change.  Baby steps . . . another thing I've learned about myself.  It's usually "all or nothing for me", and now I'm learning the art of taking those small and simple steps, one at a time.

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