About ten years ago I lived on a ranch in Comfort, TX. (Yes, that’s really the name of the town!) Getting to and from a “real” grocery store was a journey that took more than an hour. Once I got “home” from school – I usually didn’t “run to the store for a few things.”
One night, we were planning to have pork chops for dinner…leftover pork chops. My husband asked if I could make some gravy to go with them. I thought, “Well, I don’t have any ‘drippings’ because I cooked these yesterday…I wonder if I could use butter?”
And then I realized I didn’t have any “normal” flour. But I did have some “spelt” flour.
I didn’t have any “real” milk, but I did have some almond milk.
So I melted the butter, browned the spelt flour, whisked in the almond milk…and I was delighted that the consistency was perfect! I added some salt and pepper and smiled; the stuff I was stirring in the skillet looked just like delicious pork-chop gravy.
And it tasted just like cake icing….a learning experience for sure.
And this recipe experiment reminds me of what’s happening in education today.
We know what we really want. Not too many people will disagree that our desire for children is for them to grow up excited about learning and hungry for a life of real purpose. We want a future for them that includes fulfilling work and joyful relationships. We pray they’ll be equipped as husbands and wives and mothers and fathers – and as friends, brothers, sisters, sons, and daughters.
We’re excited about the leadership opportunities waiting for them – and just begging them to have real influence and impact!
And somewhere in the middle of the whole “parenting” and “educating” thing, if we’re honest, we find ourselves willing to settle for a good GPA, entrance to the college of their choice, and a degree in an industry that’s actually hiring when they graduate. We get excited when they don’t just drop-out.
I think we find ourselves “willing to settle” about the same time our children begin to struggle with the current educational system – public AND private. Their grades may or may not be the evidence of their struggle; relational struggles often wave the “struggling” flag first. Sometimes the relationship struggle is with us.
Maybe we’re using the wrong ingredients in the “education” recipe.
Maybe we’ve imagined the picture of the finished recipe on the website- the picture of the “good, true, and beautiful” life we dream of for our children….
but, somewhere in the day to day measuring and stirring, we’ve never stopped to notice the ingredients in the prepared and delivered box don’t exactly create the dream we had in mind?
The picture on the “I love my life” recipe is of the joy of learning and real wisdom, but the ingredients are just standards, mostly about facts and data.
The picture shows maturity that can’t help but perform, but the artificial ingredients offer only performance requirements that leave no real time and energy for growing up.
The picture shows trusting obedience; the ingredients offer an environment of manipulative compliance.
The background on the recipe website makes it obvious the life we want is motivated by love and delight, but the ingredients in the box have a distinct foreshadowing of daily life motivated by stress and fear.
The life in our dreams includes real and diverse relationships, in a real community, but the only relationships we can find are cliques and – maybe a lesson or two in networking, if I subscribe to an extra feature.
A beautiful world exists when children care for and about others, but the choices in the box limit daily opportunities for that, and all we can find are mostly instructions for competition and occasional community service requirements.
We know real life is lived best being vulnerable – with real humility, asking for help when we need it,
but the options we give children seem to encourage them to hide their needs, or require them to get a special ed label if they really need help.
The attractive picture of our dreams for children looks like being known and valued, but they only find programs in the box that say, “Fit in – or risk not belonging.”
We want to help children build a life that says the name of the game is learning and growing; we don’t want to hand them the side effect of “performance addiction.”
So, what if?
What if we handed them opportunities to learn and grow – without the fear of failing? or the fear of needing help?
What if we created environments of love and delight – and built in boundaries to protect from fear and unhealthy stress?
What if the curriculum was perhaps more challenging – because we engaged in learning instead of just performing?
What if we didn’t give them worksheets, questions at the end of the chapter, and tests to pass in isolation? What if we read real books together – and had real conversations? What if we wrote about real ideas – collaborating with others? What if the way to demonstrate mastery of important material was helping someone else learn it, too?
What if everybody got help? and helped each other? What if we agreed about “love one another” and daily experienced “love is a process of meeting needs?” (trueface.com)
What if the ingredients of the education recipe – public and private – actually matched the picture of our healthy and beautiful dreams for childrens’ lives?
Hope is here. We’re creating this recipe – now. And we’re excited about finding others who want to join us in this adventure we call DOCUMENTING GRACE IN EDUCATION.
Read more about our journey in these blogposts:
And please leave a comment with your thoughts, your questions, or your encouragement. It will be an answer to our prayers to find others to join us on this journey. Maybe, we’ve been praying to hear from you.