Saturday, November 22, 2008

Building a better future for our kids

Getting kids to see opportunity rather than negativity is a key objective for 2009. As times get more difficult and unemployment rises, it is ever so important for kids to use their education for a new start in life and bring hope not only into their lives but into their families.

There are inspirations in every year group, the child with a terminal illness that strives for A's, the child that works every spare second to send money home to parents in Africa, the student that couldn't read two years before and now is able to contribute to mainstream classes.

Once an opportunity is presented to a student we get limited opportunities to demonstrate that effort leads to success. Any success with some kids needs to be celebrated, even staged to ensure that they get on the right road. If they are going to fail at a task (and they must learn how to cope with failure) they need to be supported, prepared and lead by the ear to see the achievement gained in failure. The learning of resilience is important beyond any skill.

We need to believe that they can do things. They have enough doubt in themselves, it does not need to be reinforced. Push them hard, see what they can do - it will always surprise you. Work to drive them to a better place - a good work ethic is an an achievement in itself.

The little darlings need to learn that boundaries are ok and are there to protect them. The world may not be fair or cheering them on, but generally it's not against them. All of us old folk fight for a better future for them. Learning the rules is a precursor to learning how to interact with others and the community - simply modelling polite language can save them from being instantly judged the minute they open their mouths.

Value systems now that religion is no longer impressed on kids are lacking. Without a value system kids lack a knowledge of right and wrong. In a world where everything moves so fast and knowledge is valued over experience, it is hard for them to see that there is wisdom in older folks. This is of course every generations fate - but with the rapid pace of the information age it is being exacerbated. They don't believe in our values (what would we know!) and lack a better system themselves.

Parents, rather than argue at the end of a hard day at work, just give in to an argument - kids do not understand no as an answer being used to the last word. At least until they do something that has a consequence that cannot be overlooked. When this happens, the gentle leading of them to their errors is a hard task that requires patience that I need to develop further.

We need to protect students that have good qualities from students that are developing them. Once an academic student is identified they need to be driven forward. Students developing good qualities need to have champions that mentor them through and help them through difficult times.

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