I was once asked by a public school teacher if I ever considered placing my children in private schools even though my job is a public school teacher. I had to think about that answer before I blurted my first thought. I think I am in an unique situation where I get to see "the back stage workings" of public education. It frightens me, especially now since I am a parent. I have been in those staff meetings listening to the representing from the state and federal government dictating what standardized testing *must* be used and what score the school is expected to achieve. I have also been in the teacher's position in where I have had to explain to a parent, "I am sorry but due to budget cuts there is only 1 art class available and it is full." It sucks and it is unfair.
Videos and movies like Race to No Where and Waiting for Superman and other similar media have painted a very vivid and clear message that the system is broken. But, what is the solution?
One possible solution is private schools. Sadly not many families, like ourselves, are not in the financial position to put our kids in a private school. Yes, if I could afford private school the Kiddos would be there in a heart beat.
In the mean time what do we do?
Several years ago I picked up a book called Last Child in the Woods Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv. It was a powerful and eye opening. It also started my path towards holistic education. Based on his research and observations about having too much technology in the classroom and at home I started to limit technology in my classroom. For every computer there was a plant in place that students took care of. For every video or movie we did an outdoor activity that involved painting or movement. I saw a huge difference with many of my students in their social and emotional behaviors.
My journey in holistic education led me to Waldorf education. Many parents are led to Waldorf Schools looking for the same answers I am looking for. They too have watched Race to Know Where and Waiting for Superman and they too are struggling with keeping their children healthy.
A book that has been introduced into the Waldorf School community is called Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne. This book has the answers to Richard Louv's Last Child in the Woods.
What I admire about Kim's writings is his real life and practical approach to raising children in an healthy environment. He's a practicing therapist who has been working with children. Some of the children he's been working with have been dealing with severe trauma of being refugees of war torn coountries.
Here is an audio expert of Chapter 1 of his book Simplicity Parenting. http://simplicityparenting.com/audios/The%20Family%20Stream%20edit%20and%20music.mp3
You may be asking, "Why Simplify?"
Here is Kim's reason: http://www.simplicityparenting.com/2011/10/book-study-part-1-why-simplify/
I really like Waldorf Schools and I feel like we have found a nitch for our family. But, like many they have been good at pointing out the problems of our society but haven't given any solid solutions.
Finally, Kim John Payne and his Simplicity Parenting and Richard Louv's follow up book The Nature Principle give at least some directions.