The Way of Beauty National School Choice Week

Credit Alvin Trusty via Flickr CC BYSA 20 Alvin Trusty via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

This week, the spotlight focuses on effective education for every child in this country.  It's a week dedicated to the theme of school choice.  NSCW was begun in 2011 by a diverse coalition of concerned parents, schools, and organization.  Characterized by its nonpartisan and nonpolitical effort, it pledges to leave no child behind and give children the quality education they so richly deserve.  For years, the fundamental question has been publicly raised: "Why are American children failing in public schools when, in poorly-developed countries, children are doing quite well?"

During this week, parents, schools, and organizations, have been urged to conduct positive events that celebrate school choice options while drawing attention to the need for even greater opportunities for children.  After years of opposition from the public school sector, concerned parents and educators have united in a resolve to make the education of children highest priority.  If public schools are failing children, the youngsters must be removed and placed in an academic environment where they can learn. 

Some Problems

Several deficiencies in public schools have been cited: unprofessional administrators, unprepared teachers, lack of motivation, poor discipline, and low expectations from their students.  Children cannot read, write, or spell at grade level.  Often parental involvement is missing. Evaluators have come to define this deplorable situation as "Dumbing Down." Conscientious teachers cannot be blamed for feeling demoralized.  Still, they try to educate their students in adverse circumstances.

Alternate modes of education have arisen due to the chaos, the lack of leadership and dedication that too often define public schools.  In addition to the traditional public school, some other models have emerged arousing great interest among concerned parents: public charter schools, magnet schools, online learning, and homeschooling.  The Catholic school system was established in the nineteenth century to ascertain that children of Catholic parents would be taught from the springboard of faith.  

Qualities of a Professional Educator

Modern pedagogues have written much about the education of children.  Some characteristics are essential to the very description of an effective teacher:  

Be prepared. Children can see through a teacher who "wings" a lesson.  Prepared lessons usually proceed with energy and purpose. There is no more vivid biblical curse against mediocrity than the sharp words in the Book of Revelation (3:16):  "Because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth."

Be authentic.  Teach by example.  Today young people turn their backs on those who display artifice or insincerity. They are searching above all for truth and honesty in their elders.

Build character.  One need not use the word virtue lest it be interpreted as a religious word. But the teacher should be virtuous in the classroom.  It is a quality of character by which individuals habitually recognize and do the right thing. Virtuous living is moral living.  Children learn virtue not only in the family but also from role models in schools. 

Be compassionate.   Develop an understanding heart.    

Pay attention to the individual. The phrase, cura personalis, means care of the individual person.  No two children have the same needs.

Respect every student.  Students expect to be corrected, but in the process, they should be respected. Never, never ridicule. 

Be a candelabra. The student awaits the discovery and the joy of learning, that of being led out from the darkness of ignorance into the light of knowledge.  One could say that the teacher is a candelabra, a bearer of light.    

Inspire.  Memorable teachers are those who inspired their students and gave them a vision for life. 

Our students should be able "to taste and see the goodness of the Lord" in every educator who stands before them.  Regardless of the option used, here is education worthy of its name.

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