This week is very important for parents of sixth graders all over Spain: we have to choose the new school that our children will attend during the next six years and that will determine their access to university or the professional world.
When we talk about the future of our children the weight of responsibility is comparable to a 100 lbs bag of cement on our shoulders. We have so many doubts about what to choose: state or private school? Humanities or science? Traditional teacher-centered method or student-centered and task-based approach to learning? When I attended the open days at the different high schools I had the feeling of entering a jungle: everyone wanted to sell their product, our children could not have a better education than the one they provided.
I was especially struck by the speech of a mother who wanted to give her testimony about the school she had chosen for her son. It was a speech in which the word “overwhelmed” was recurrent: this mother was overwhelmed when she had to choose the new school, she felt overwhelmed before meeting the teachers and again overwhelmed when the child started to go to class… While listening to this mother not only did I identify myself with her to the last cell of my body but I also realized how difficult it is for a parent to do their job with some peace of mind.
I believe that the origin of this anguish is always, as usual, our unresolved issues. If, for instance, my level of English is not good, I will probably advise my child to study this language; if I am an elitist person I will choose a private school; if I did not have the possibility to go to college, I will insist with my child on the importance of getting a degree. We rely on statistics that indicate what career is the “best” to give our children advice on what they should be when they grow up. Most of us tend to think that it is good to have a steady job because it will give us economic security for the rest of our lives or that being a lawyer will give us occupational prestige. These are the principles that guide us when making a choice about our children’s future. Unfortunately they are also the origin of a damaging mental programming.
Our parents instructed us on these concepts and the result is a generation of people who, as a general rule, do a job they do not love: lawyers employed as street sweepers, overqualified caretakers, people that are “parked” in a frustrating job that can’t wait to go back home.
The other day a friend of mine asked me if I did not wish my daughter to graduate. I thought of it a little before answering because until a few years ago my answer would have been “Of course!” Now I would answer “Of course!”, but I would end the sentence with “if this is what she wants”. I would like my daughter to discover what her true passion is, what really moves her, what her special talent is. Everyone has a vocation and shines like the sun when they discover it and apply it to their life. It doesn’t matter whether this ability is to make jewellery with origami, speak four languages, prune the plants of the park or perform an open heart surgery. What is really important is that every one of us finds out what their special gift is and put it into practice. The important thing is that the caretaker, accountant or neurosurgeon are doing the job that makes their heart pound, that doesn’t make them count the hours that are missing for the weekend!
It would be wonderful if each of us, before submitting that pre-registration form, asked ourselves “What would make my child happy?” Instead of “Who will give them the highest level of education?”. In my heart of hearts I know that this new approach to the issue would not only end the anguish of the final decision, but would also radically change our way of dealing with life in general.
Let’s not forget that the main goal of our existence should be to enjoy life and be happy. Therefore, dear parents, I wish a happy choice of school to us all!