Sunday, March 26, 2017

My Views on Childhood Education

While I continue to learn more about the Mind-Body-Spirit connection to illness and chronic pain, while processing the controversy around public education vs. vouchers for charter schools, I wonder how my life could have been different if the subjects I was taught in grade school through middle school included psychology, sociology, communication, relationships, finance, and self-defense.

I wonder if instead of biology, social studies, and political science -- and all the FACTS I had to know (which I didn't) in order to get good grades on tests, I had the opportunity to learn all the aforementioned topics instead. As for sex education, this wasn't offered back when I was in school and I'm not sure it would have been beneficial to me if it had.

Learning about psychology, sociology, communication, and relationships (all topics I didn't get until I got to college) sure would have been an extremely interesting way for me and my classmates to learn about each other. Instead of feeling isolated, I could have felt connected.

I was one of the quiet bashful bullied children and I wonder -- if I had a voice -- and heard the other children's voices -- if the issues I faced would have existed. If my classrooms had a Toastmasters format, I would have heard my other classmates tell their stories and developed compassion early on instead of the effects of isolation and depression.

Children who are listened to and understood are less likely to become bullies and the number of people who develop substance abuse issues would be minimized. Children who are listened to and understood are less likely to develop chronic illness, disease, and pain - including mental illness.

We get hearing tests, vision tests, and all kinds of other tests. Why aren't children getting psychological testing? Why is it that only the children who are diagnosed by their pediatricians as needing said testing are being tested and getting help? (I have a friend who works for a psychologist who does this type of testing.)

What if the children who were classified early on as high-risk were put in separate rooms just like special ed rooms are for the developmentally disadvantaged? There are actually children who experience depression from a very young age which isn't caught by parents or pediatricians -- and I was one of them.
It would have been nice if I could have learned about basic psychological problems, including how we decide who we are by the time we are about six years old and whether this identity is true or not. Unfortunately, not every child has a safe start with mentally fit, healthy parents or they only have one parent who has no choice but to work, leaving their child(ren) to fend for themselves. Not every child has a 'church family' to provide structure nor do they have an extended family to be there when their parents work.

It would have been nice if my fellow classmates could have explored cultural and religious differences (sociology) early on instead of historical textbook facts we can't relate to as well as how wealth or lack of affects the livelihood of families. Not everyone goes to college where sociology is a basic subject requirement. This one class made a huge difference in my view of the world.
It would have been nice if I could have learned about stress, how we react to stress, and how to manage stress. Many children DON'T handle stress which results in numerous problems they take with them into their adult life like I did. Because I didn't have a voice, I internalized everything. I'm still in the process of working it all out as each new day leads to a new discovery and a new light bulb of awareness comes on.

It would have been nice if I had more than just crossing guards to protect me on my journey to and from school so I wouldn't have been subject to bullying (by both boys & girls). When I took the bus from first through third grade, I was bullied by nearby students. When we moved to a new town, I had to walk because my mother didn't drive and we didn't have neighbors who could drive us. We lived in New England so regardless of weather conditions, we had to walk. I was in pain as far back as I could remember and pain is stressful by itself. Perhaps children in need of protection (who are free to have a voice) could be assigned older 'qualified' mentors to look after them and protect them from bullies. The older neighbor girl who walked with us was one of many bullies I had to deal with. I wonder how things could have been different if I had learned it was O.K. to speak up and defend myself.

Perhaps had my education in psychology, relationships, & communication had begun much earlier, I wouldn't have fallen so heavily infatuated multiple times (like so many females do) with all the wrong boys and later men. I was only 12 when I became infatuated for the first time. In a class on relationships, I could have learned the difference between infatuation and love as well as what a healthy relationship looked like -- and would have learned that my parents had serious problems. Perhaps I wouldn't have believed I was a bad person - never good enough - when they yelled at each other or me because I would have known it wasn't about me.

Perhaps if instead of studying Shakespeare, we could have been analyzing Disney movies and fairy tales. Right? Like what happens after infatuation? It would have been nice if we had REAL stories to read instead of romance fantasies which always had happy endings.

I can just imagine if instead of blindly falling in love, I was classifying the boys/men I met according to what type of psychological problems they had and how their lives would turn out as a result of those problems. And perhaps I would have developed the insight to know (ahead of time) who would be abusive, alcoholics, drug addicts, criminals, liars, cheaters, and worse yet -- sex offenders. (I've known all of the above).

I certainly wish someone had educated me about how much trouble I could get into if I 'date' someone unsupervised until I got to know them, no matter how old I was.

Oh, yes, I'd make self-defense as one of the mandatory classes taught in P.E. Boys weren't the only people I needed to learn to defend myself from. There were bully girls, too. I so wish I had learned how to defend myself verbally and physically before my body 'froze up' with Fibromyalgia. Mmmm.

I wish, even more, I was taught that you don't try to love boys/men who are messed up by being in a relationship with them.

The more people I've talked to over the years, the more I have found out that no one is really immune to the kinds of emotional issues that I personally experienced in my own life and within my own family. Men, women, and children in our country are getting away with the murder of fragile hearts and souls. Sometimes, the murder includes the entire human being which includes school massacres. NO ONE is safe from predators unless they are specifically trained to protect themselves. So why aren't we learning how to do this from the very beginning instead of developing overwhelming helplessness - feeling powerless - which is the root of all illness, disease, alcoholism, drug addiction, mental illness, and more?

I think I've experienced quite a variety of infatuations which in every case left me heartbroken, losing a job, or suddenly moving (which I've done 43 times). In spite of the fact that I kept telling myself 'never again,' there was another 'again.' I never understood what was happening until I read "Count Your Blessings" when I was 57 years old. In Chapter 16, Dr. John F. Demartini begins with:

"Are you busy building pedestals? Generally, the people who build the tallest pedestals experience the deepest resentments down the road, and the bigger the infatuation, the harder it falls. When you see a person, a situation, an object, or a possession, as all good, you're in a temporary state of infatuation and illusion."
I refer to this illusion as 'rose colored glasses'. This leads me to the next subject: finance.

We don't just become infatuated with people. We become infatuated with THINGS. And we want the things NOW whether we have the money saved up for them or not. And we've been taught from early on, that we can have just about anything we want... when we buy it on credit. And this is why our entire country is in such deep debt. We try to fill emptiness with things and wonder why after we have them, we still feel empty.

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to take one of Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University classes. Imagine if we began learning how to balance a checkbook in grade school as soon as we learned to add and subtract. If parents couldn't afford to give their children allowances, the school could give them monopoly money to pretend with.

Next, we'd go on field trips to the grocery stores (with calculators) and calculate costs per ounce and which products are the better buy. Instead of history and social studies, learn about nutrition, what GMO's are, the toxic affects of sugar and food coloring, and where the meat we eat and the milk we drink come from. In biology lab, we'd experiment on how roundup as well as other chemicals affects our food and our bodies.

Children need to learn how to calculate how much things will end up costing us if we take out loans for them (yes, credit cards are extremely high interest loans).

I was one of the few people who learned about money while I was still in high school because I took business courses which included bookkeeping. By the time I graduated high school, I knew a lot about income and expenses ... with the exception of the credit card thing. My father liked buying things with credit cards and taught me that it was the thing to do. He never figured out that buying things on sale on credit resulted in paying more than the item would be at full price. He even taught me that I had to buy cars brand new when I could have bought a perfectly good used car for a lot less.

In conclusion, I believe childhood education should include psychology, sociology, communication, relationships, and finance from the very beginning... with self-defense in P.E. And if they were, don't you think our world be a better place?

Then again, if our government is such a mess, and religious organizations are all clashing with each other, who do we trust to decide which psychology and finance specialists get to write our textbooks?

What do you think? If you could return to grade school, which classes do you think would have been more beneficial than the ones you had to take?