Saturday, May 16, 2009

So, How's School Going?

Originally Posted in the Common Threads Blog,
Centre Daily Times, Sept 11, 2007

Another school year has begun –with new challenges and opportunities for a lot of learning, excitement and fun. At least that’s what I am hoping for.

Often, adults ask my daughter how her new school year is going, and I too ask this question of other kids.

And get a one word response.


How is your teacher?


What did you do in school today?

“Nothing much.”

This uniform answer of “good school days, with fine teachers, and doing nothing much,” puzzles me.

But I have decided that we cannot blame kids for coming up with these standardized responses - when we parents do it so often ourselves.

A casual “So how’s the school year going?” to another adult almost always comes up with a response of “Good,” or “Fine.”

And most of us end the conversation there, not having the time or the interest for the details.

But continue the conversation, and we may find out that all is not “good.”

Someone dislikes a teacher, another has issues with the curriculum, a third with bullying….

And just one parent opening up, and straying beyond the cursory “good,” brings forth new stories from the others.

But sharing these experiences requires the investment of time.

I recall exchanging stories about school, as a child, with family and friends - comparing notes about teachers, and laughing till the tears ran down my cheeks, at a cousin’s or friend’s narration or enacting of a funny incident.

We were able to do this because we visited often with other kids and adults – listening over tea, or board games on a lazy afternoon.

And that kind of time, is in short supply today, as we run from one task or activity to another.

At our house, we try to catch up on each other’s day over dinner. As my husband and I share the highlights of our day, our daughter competes with us to tell us about the “good,” “the bad,” “the ugly,” “the terrible,” and everything in between, and a clearer picture of all our lives emerges.

And I am hopeful that other kids who I know, will describe their school day to me too, in more than one sentence, if I only stayed and listened.

As long as I am willing to spare all that extra time…

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