I was raised to believe in the power of a good education, that education is something, once earned, no one can take from you. And I still believe in those things. But I am getting a sudden, rude awakening in dealing with less-than-stellar schooling for my son. And I’m gaining a new perspective on education in general.
I’ve followed the reports about college degrees not being as necessary as they once were (or at least not getting much return on investment). I’ve seen alternatives to public schooling that work. And I have now witnessed public education that has lost its focus on children, and gone in such a wrong direction.
So what is the value of an education for my son?
What is the endgame here?
Will he attend college? Maybe — I’m not ruling it out, but most likely, no college program is going to be able to provide him with the supports he needs to learn, at least no college program that we are going to be able to afford. He is a bright boy, but it takes a lot of work on his part and the part of those educating him to see results. It takes a lot of understanding, a lot of compassion, and having the right people in the right place at the right time to make it happen, and realistically, I don’t see anything like that happening at the college level.
So the value of an education for my son is not about subject matter content. The value of a public education is in the social skills he learns. I can supplement subject matter content until the cows come home, but what I really want him to walk away with is the ability to understand neuro-typical behavior to some extent, and to be able to cope in this neuro-typical world. I want him to be as independent as possible, and I don’t think “learning” about the Pharaohs of Egypt by doing a wordsearch is going to contribute much to that goal.
Therefore, stressing about getting that stupid wordsearch done doesn’t give us much return on investment. And I’m OK with a C in a class where the teacher probably privately thinks that modifications and accommodations are unfair. I have always been much more interested in IEP goal reports than report cards, because learning to live in the world around us is our endgame. And learning to live in the world around us is so much more important than a stupid wordsearch.