Tuesday, June 23, 2009

How to Use my SHAPE

So, I started the other day reading a huge book I've had laying around for a while: The Underground History of American Education, by John Taylor Gatto. It's a book much touted in the homeschool world; it talks about the problems inherent in the public education system. Written by a former NY State Teacher of the Year.

And while I'm reading it, I've been inundated with other stories about problems in the schools. Just today, for example. The news this morning had a story about NYC schools eliminating the designation of valedictorians -- it promotes "unnecessary competition". Of course, the competition and subsequent recognition for excellence that happens in sports and other extracurricular activities -- that would be necessary. But honoring kids who've busted their butts to learn in school . . . unnecessary.

An article was posted to my FB page about a book out examining schools in four states, including my previous home state of New Jersey. These four states had court-ordered mandates to increase funding and make necessary changes to improve the schools. Yet, student achievement had not only not improved, in some cases, it declined. The article said that per pupil spending in New Jersey exceeded $20,000 last year. Amazing. What I could do in my homeschool with $20,000 to spend in a year . . .

At our church in Springfield many moons ago, I took a class called "Determining your SHAPE". SHAPE is an acronym: Spiritual Gift, Heart, Abilities, Personality, Experience. We took a bunch of tests and got matched up with ministries in the church that needed the kind of person God had shaped us up to be.

I'm thinking about my spiritual gift of administration, my experiences in the public school and homeschooling worlds, my abilities to teach and organize ideas and find structures, my heart for a well-educated populace . . and I'm wondering where all this is going. I've long felt frustrated with the broken system of education in America and convicted to be part of fixing it. But it's a monumental task . . . completely overwhelming . . . almost impossible . . . and I'm so inadequate to even a small part of the job.

I read a quote somewhere from somebody, something to the effect of . . . "We would accomplish a lot more things in life if we didn't think of them as impossible." A nice platitude. Probably true. Wish it gave me more direction here.


Meredith said...

I saw SHAPE and it reminded me how irked I was when they were advertising SHAPE in the Hope bulletins a few months back...except they always spelled out all the words and it looked like SGHAPE. I'm anal!! Anyways, your last paragraph reminded me of Chasing Daylight. Did you read that one? I remember it saying over and over just do SOMETHING. In this case, don't be paralyzed by the overwhelming nature of the "big job" but take a step in the right direction and do something that is manageable, and God will use you. If anything, you are bringing up TWO WHOLE INDIVIDUALS with the values that you uphold. That's two students' lives that you've changed, and that's two more than NONE! Congrats!

Ona Marae said...

Sorry to be so late in leaving this note, I know the world has moved on! But, well, ,lots of reasons I'm reading this blog entry late, I just hope you see t his note anyhow..

What I wanted to say was my community wellness center has a sticker in the front wintdow that says, "What would you do if you knew you could not fail?" That's all. No wisdom as to how to not fail or how to achieve things....just the nagging question...but it has been quite the motivator for me. Hope it inspires you!