I am very proud to introduce my new guest, and début guest blogger, Alisse Lee Goldenberg, with her educational dilemma. Not only does she write, she is also the mother of triplets under the age of two. Welcome, Alisse, and thank you so much for taking the time, during your undoubtedly busy schedule, to write here.
For this blog post, I was asked to write about something I deeply care about. At first I was unsure about what I should write. I could write about being a writer, or about my cultural heritage, or about the environment, all things that are extremely important to me. But then I thought, “What is the single most important thing in the world?” and the answer to that question came easily: my kids. After all, they were the ones I originally wrote my first novel for.
In February of 2011, I gave birth to triplets: two boys, and a girl. The instant they were born, my whole perspective on life shifted. I was no longer the centre of my own existence. They were the people I lived for. (My husband is very understanding about this fact.) They are who I write for, tell stories to, work for, etc. Those little faces are the first ones I want to see in the morning, and the last ones I want to see at night. Don’t get me wrong here, I am not a helicopter parent; I let them make mistakes, be adventurous, take risks. At this age, this mainly constitutes trying new and daring things like climbing my furniture, fighting with each other, or riding the dog. Everyone I know sees my husband and me with our kids and they tell us how shocked they are that we are so calm. This strikes me as an odd comment to make. If I stressed out, or freaked out over every bump, bruise, sniffle or cough, I would be freaking out every second of every day, and a stressed out parent will inevitably lead to a stressed out child.
What prompted this blog was the fact that I am stressing out right now. This coming February, my kids are going to be two years old. Now, this isn’t some big crisis along the lines of “Oh no! My babies are growing up!” it’s more along the lines of my friends with kids the same age are asking me where they’re going to go to school for junior kindergarten. This has me looking long and hard at my priorities. I would like them to have a religious, Jewish education like I did growing up, while I would also like them to understand music and the arts. In an ideal world, there would be a school that taught everything, but this is very clearly not am ideal world. If you look at the state of public education in Ontario, it is a shambles. Teachers are on work to rule, where they have largely stopped all extracurricular activities such as: sports teams, dances, performances, field trips, and concerts. They are doing this to protest wage freezes and anti-strike legislation by the government that goes against their rights. I support this in theory; I just hate how it hurts the students. Furthermore, we now have this “no man left behind” mentality where teachers are not allowed to give zeros, or failing marks. Really? If you don’t do an assignment that means you don’t pass. Parents can argue for their kids to get better grades, and this routinely happens. All this teaches a kid is that they can skate through in life, and not try. They don’t have to put in any effort. I feel they are in for a rude awakening when they graduate.
Private schools that my husband and I are also looking at have the religious education, but many of them are lacking in the arts department. He went to school and had bands he could play in. I had a choir and no instrumental education aside from after school piano classes. I don’t know where to turn here. I don’t want to make a wrong decision for my kids. I just don’t know what’s right at this point. Part of me wants to just throw in the towel and home school. Then I think “Yeah right. They’ll graduate with a full knowledge about fantasy, folklore, and music composition.” But in the end, would that really be so bad?
Alisse Lee Goldenberg is an author of Young Adult fantasy fiction. She has her Bachelors of Education and a Fine Arts degree, and has studied fantasy and folk lore since she was a child. Alisse lives in Toronto with her husband Brian, their triplets Joseph, Phillip, and Hailey, and their rambunctious Goldendoodle Sebastian. Her début novel The Strings of the Violin is now available for purchase.