BABIES and children are too good for this world. They come in with a clean slate, and like sponges, they absorb everything around them – the good, the bad, and the ugly. It is up to us what they learn and what they embrace – values, mannerisms, and attitudes.
Babies undoubtedly grow up to be children with personalities of their own. In fact, from young these larger than life personalities threaten the sanity of even the most prepared parent. Babies don’t shy away from expressing themselves. They cry and fuss from the day they enter the world, and make their needs known to anyone close enough to hear them. At some point though, for some people at least, that natural expressive nature tones down dramatically. This can sometimes be due to the environment in which a person grows – some people are encouraged to speak and to express themselves, others, to sit down and be seen but not heard.
In the wider sense, upbringing really is the foundation for what and who a person will become later in life and how difficult or easy it will be for them to navigate challenges, or simply become a useful member of society. Undeniably, with a population largely consisting of young people, we have a huge responsibility at hand. We are charged with the scope of molding the citizen of the future.
The question is, are we doing it well? Are we doing all we can to be the best examples we can be to our children, and the children of others near and dear, so that they learn, grow, and blossom into the accomplished and respectable citizens we have always aspired to be ourselves? As we continue to try to encourage them to do their very best, are we focused enough on what that actually means to them, or just what we would hope it would?
As a veteran teacher once said, ‘They may not be good at the subjects, but they must have a talent, something they can do better than everything else.’
Teachers know it best, those who remain in the classroom and those retired. They are the ones we should listen to when charting the way forward for our youth. They know the situations students face aren’t always optimal, and the solutions, not always straightforward. Most would agree though that the way forward revolves around curriculums that are all embracing – technical, vocational, and academic. They know too that the missing link isn’t always limited to opportunities for children, but opportunities for parents – opportunities for parents to be better people.
Our teachers know this because they know the challenges that separate the students who succeed, from those who do not. This is not always dependent on knowledge, but circumstance.
According to that same veteran teacher, ‘We blame the children for what they do or don’t do, but often, the parents are to blame.’
Our teachers have often spoken about the special cases in their classrooms; the child who always comes to school with no breakfast, the little boy with a drunkard for a mother… the girl in second grade from an abusive home who cries at lunch time in the washroom.
As much as any of our educators might want to focus on filling every student’s head with requisite knowledge so they’re on their way to becoming “model citizens”, they first need help from all in positions to do so to get past the roadblocks in a comprehensive way. Navigating past personal and homegrown issues, and engaging students at the level in which they are truly skilled is the way forward to a truly successful education system, which will undoubtedly create the sort of model citizens we’ve always aspired for.