Friday, 7 December 2012

questions of schooling

I just want to preface this post by saying I have absolutely no judgement on where or how people choose to educate their children. This is all my own experience and opinions and thought process in making the decision for my child’s education.


Mayana has one year left before she goes off to big school. It makes me feel quite ill to think about it. And with waiting lists for schools around here filling quickly, it seems that it is time to be thinking about where we’re going to send her in 2014.

The obvious choice of course is sending her to my school, but I don’t want to make the choice only because it is the obvious one. My school is a Christian school, and is quickly growing, with a good reputation. The Prep classes seem to fill up quite quickly, and I know and like all of the teachers in Prep and the rest of the junior school.

There are also two schools with good reputations within walking distance of where we live now. One is a Catholic school and one is a State school. The Catholic school has a really cool art department, and from what I understand teaches allied arts (visual arts, drama, dance and music) as specific subjects for all ages. That really appeals to me. People I’ve spoken to who send their children there seem happy with it. I like the idea of having a Christian curriculum, and I find that Catholic curriculum is quite well rounded (I did a prac in a Catholic school and had many opportunities to explore and engage in the ‘theology’ curriculum). My school doesn’t have a specific Christian curriculum, though teachers are encouraged to embed the teaching of Christian principles and ‘theology’ (only for want of a better word) within their programs. It’s a little ambiguous though, and with not a lot of accountability. I know it is my responsibility as a Christian parent to teach my child about the ways of God, and help them to understand why I believe what I believe and hope and pray that they make the right choices. I’m not trying to palm it off to someone else, but I like the idea of have our way of life backed-up in school, instead of being challenged or questioned.

The State school I have also heard good things about, from both parents of kids who go there, and friends who have done supply work there.

It’s made me really think about what is important to me in a school for my child. I myself went to a Christian school from the beginning of my schooling till the end of year four, a state school for the remainder of my primary years, and completed high school at a Christian school which I hope one day, when we move back to the Coast, I will be able to send my children to.

I liked going to a Christian school, I liked being able to talk and learn about God and things that were important to me. I grew so much in my faith at school. I like that there are stricter boundaries, greater accountability, and often higher expectations (for behaviour and academia) in private schools. I know that is a huge generalisation but I am speaking from my own experiences, both as a student and a teacher. I’m not completely naive, and I know that crap happens at Christian schools too. But my experiences in teaching on pracs at state schools where soooo different to my experience in Christian schools.

I’ve seen things happen in state schools that made my heart hurt. Eleven and twelve year old kids talking about their sexual experiences, eight and nine year olds engaged in cutting and other self-mutilation, bullying that made me sick to my stomach, language that made my ears burn, six year olds throwing furniture and other objects at their teachers, kids so full of self-entitlement that the whole rest of the class suffers and loses the opportunity to learn. I know this stuff isn’t exclusive to state schools but in my experience it is definitely more rife, and in too many cases is accepted as normal, and shrugged off because people just don’t know what to do about it. Of course as a mother I want to shield my beautiful little girl from experiences like this, and put her into an environment where she can maintain her innocence for as long as possible. But I know that not all State schools are like this, and I don’t want to write off a whole sector of education based on these negative experience, when I now that there are some really fabulous government schools out there with dedicated and incredible teachers.

Then there is the money situation. From what I understand that Catholic system is slightly cheaper than your average independent school, and of course State schooling is supposedly ‘free’ – though I’m reading more and more reports from disgruntled parents sick of paying huge levies and other fees. We don’t exactly have heaps of spare money at this time, but if I believe that sending Mayana to a private school is going to be the best decision for her, then we will make it work – to me it is an investment in my child’s future, and well worth it. But it is definitely a consideration that needs to be made.

I guess I need to go to these schools and have them tell me why I should send my child there… what makes them the best choice… I need to see for myself.

It feels like such a big decision to me, and I’m not taking it lightly. I keep going over pros and cons in my head, and I’ve been praying about it a lot. Hopefully, Peter and I will be able to make a decision, and the right decision, and soon enough that we don’t miss out on the school that we choose!

I just can’t believe that we’re at this phase of our parenting already!!

a peek inside my head right now

I love being a mum. And I love staying at home with my kids. And I wouldn’t change the way our life is now for the world. But sometimes I can’t help but wonder ‘what if’.

Seeing all my friends finish up another year with their classes, getting excited to see who is going to be in their class next year… I must admit I feel a tad jealous. I taught for a year, but I didn’t get any of that. I loved DE, I loved stretching myself in writing curriculum (I still can’t believe that I achieved writing an entire distance education curriculum for a year level!) and learning about and delivering education in an e-learning context. It was exciting and hard work, but I missed kids. Distance Education is like a whole other job from teaching in a regular classroom, and you miss the part where you actually get to see kids have their ah-huh moments, and for me that’s where a whole lot of the job satisfaction comes from. Seeing a bunch of kids learn and develop soooo many new skills over a period of year, and being able to look back and see how far you’ve brought them. That is something I’m yet to experience, and I yearn for it.

I’m in a weird place in my head, because I love being at home with my kids and don’t want to miss out on this time with them. I’m not begrudging my current life choices, but I just want to know what that feels like. I don’t want to get to the point when all my kids are finally in school and I can go back only to find that my skill set is wrong…. I guess I’m scared that maybe they won’t have me. I have concerns that my only experience since graduating is in distance education and e-learning, and that potential future employers will look at the big gaping hole of classroom and behaviour management experience. I don’t won’t to be pegged into that one field, because as much as I enjoyed my work there, it didn’t give me that vocational satisfaction that I went into this career for.

I’m so proud of my husband. He’s working in a job that, let’s face it, pays far less and has longer hours and shorter holidays than he really could be entitled to as a qualified teacher. And to top that off, he has to do further TAFE study to be qualified properly for the early childhood field (go figure). But he loves his job, and has great job satisfaction and can see himself being a kindergarten educator long term. I think he’s awesome. And as the kindergarten program gains momentum and parents begin to see it’s importance in preparing their children for the Australian Curriculum Prep Year (which is much more akin to what year one used to be than what we remember as ‘preschool’), I know that more and more schools will implement their own kindergarten programs, and it’s not unreasonable to foresee that he could end up teaching in his preferred field in an actual school and getting the award that he really does deserve.

What a ramble. I guess I’m just feeling a bit sad today, and the pessimistic side of me is wondering why I bothered with five years of studying when no one wants me. Which is ridiculous I know. I have chosen the position that I am in right now, and there’s no saying that someone wouldn’t employ me if I started applying for jobs tomorrow. Maybe I’m too scared to in case I do get rejected. Mostly I’m happy to stay at home, but I do want to put my feelers out and keep my skills up to make sure that in a few more years, when I’m ready to get back out there, someone will have me. I am a good teacher. I know that I am. I just need to have a chance to prove it.. to myself mostly.

Until then, I’ll be here window shopping online at postgraduate certificates and diplomas that might help to expand my skillset a little, and next year I’ll get the ball rolling with my Education Queensland registration so that I can try and pick up a bit of supply work and classroom experience, and money to fund said further education (yikes is it expensive!). I’ll be back out there. One day I will. In the meantime I’ll just concentrate on the most important teaching job I’ll ever have: being a Mama.


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