Friday, September 4, 2009

On keeping kids home from school Sep 8

Below is an email I just sent to our local Glenn Beck group, of which I am a member. Of course, my aim is to get a few of those parents to actually listen to an entire Obama address, unfiltered by right-wing pundits. It might be the first time for many of them, and I'm betting a lot of them will be astonished to find they agree with everything he says. But, FWIW, here is my message:

Hello all,

I hope you'll forgive my $.02 here, as I have never had kids and never will, but I do have some thoughts on some parents' plans to keep their kids out of school Tuesday on account of Obama's address.

I think those who do keep their kids home are doing the kids and themselves a great disservice. The first day of school is where friendship cliques begin to form, and where kids begin to figure out the teacher's style and expectations, and what the year has in store for them. All the kids are on the same footing that first day, and anybody who comes in on the second day will already be behind the power curve, having to play catch-up. I don't feel this is the right way to begin a challenging school year.

Also, it sends the wrong message: to fear dissenting opinions rather than hearing them out and developing a sane, rational rebuttal based on facts. This critical thinking skill will serve them lifelong. What better opportunity for them to start developing it?

A better option, in my opinion, is to go to school with your children that day. This gives you a chance to meet the teacher, the other kids, and most likely a few other parents, because you won't be the only one. It can also serve as a great springboard for discussion, as you can sit down with your children later and pick their brains: "What stood out most for you in the speech? What does that mean to you? Does it fit with what you believe? What alternatives might be better?" etc. This kind of discussion could give you great insight into your children's worldview and how equipped they are to think for themselves.

Just my opinion. I welcome any comments, of course.

1 comment:

  1. Someone sent a reply: "Why are you defending Obama?" I feared I had finally been outed, so I sent this back to the list:

    I'm not "defending" Obama -- I'm just the kind of person who likes to get my information first-hand. So I will be watching the speech as he delivers it, to make up my own mind. If it does turn out to be a pep talk like they say it's going to be, then I would have no quarrel with it. Now, if he comes back down the road and wants kids to do something that violates their or anyone else's liberties, I would hope parents would be able to get their kids to realize that just because someone says something good one time, it doesn't mean you should accept everything they say uncritically. You should always have your thinking cap on, and evaluate every new piece of information on its own merits or demerits, whether you're dealing with friends, family, or even the President of the United States. Nobody's always right or always wrong. Even Hitler said, "As a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice." I don't think anybody on this list would disagree with that particular statement, even though we would never agree that Hitler was a good person or that what he stood for was right. That's my belief.

    As a military veteran, I've learned to pick my battles carefully. This country is facing some pretty serious issues right now, and it's important to focus our energies wisely, not scatter them over every new thing that crops up. If Obama goes on the air and actually just says, "Hey kids, you need to work hard and stay in school, set goals and be responsible for yourself," then this whole keep-the-kids-out-of-school movement could wind up looking a bit silly, which weakens our credibility and makes future fights even more difficult.

    Again, just my $.02. Oh, and I stand corrected on the first day of school -- I had assumed it would start the day after Labor Day (see, I told you I don't have kids! *smile*), but it turns out that some districts have already started. Still, if it were my kid, I wouldn't want her to start off the year missing classes. I would take the approach I first advocated, and would make every effort to attend with her, to see for myself exactly what she was being exposed to, the teacher's attitude and handling of the event, what fellow parents thought about it, etc.