Saturday, June 8, 2013

Individualism and Parenting - part 2

Picking up where I left off in the previous part here.

"It is like bringing home your math homework only to have a parent give you all the answers - way more time to play outside but did that child really learn how to do the math on their own? Not at all. So when it comes time in class to do those same problems and then has to show his work, he will not have the knowledge to do it. Not only that, he may be embarrassed in front of his friends and labeled a cheater for not having done the work himself."

Sound too extreme?

It happens and I have seen it in class personally. A child became a lonesome and depressed little girl for most of the school year. She was only a little bit better off only because her friends were playing with her again and not calling her a cheater. She still wasn't learning at the same pace or level most of the class was and this required a parent/teacher conference. Apparently, her after-school dance recitals were more important to her parents than her foundation-building education. So what happens when she injures her leg or is physically incapable of continuing to dance at an older age?

Even more damning, what will the emotional scars be like when she falls behind in class, fails a grade or worse - gives up and quits school? With nothing to fall back on, she will now have a hard life and learn the many lessons to come harshly.

Well, as it would happen, I recently caught up with her family and learned why we hadn't heard from her in so long. I had moved away shortly after graduation, as many of us do, and had lost touch with a few of my classmates. This is one such case and I wish that we had kept in touch.

She barely finished high-school, spent a few summers with tutors and summer school over the years to keep up. It wasn't so much that she had learning issues as much as it was what she did actually learn was not enough to keep her up with the rest of the class.

After high school her mother, who owned and operated a dance studio, had her continue learning ballet and work at the studio teaching younger children. This was the case for a few years until her mother suddenly passed and she took over the studio. She struggled to handle the daily operations of the business and eventually had to give up her own ballet lessons after breaking her leg in an accident. This made it even harder for her as she had to hire someone else to teach while she recovered.

These chain of events and the economy downfall hit her hard as more and more parents were giving up on extras like dance lessons for their children. She was unable to make rent and eventually lost the business. This hit her pretty hard since she knew her mother had put a lot into it over the years. Now it was gone and she had no income and no real skills outside of ballet and dance to depend on.

Her father soon passed about 7 months after these events unfolded and that was all she could take. Sadly she took her own life at age 29 because she felt she had nothing else to offer the world and no skills to land a job.

I do not know everything about her situation except what I have learned from family and close friends that were there. I can not blame her lack of education solely for her life's demise since there are to many other things that led her that way. But I would like to think that, if she had been given better direction and some individual choice, she would have seen a different path than the one she chose.

I do, however, blame the fact that she had no individual freedom to make her own choices. She was forced down a path that left her with nothing to fall back on. I would like to think that if she had been given a choice to focus more on education, this would have turned out better. 

I understand that she may have wanted to learn ballet at a young age, but her parents should have seen the need for some balancing of time spent between school and ballet. It seems selfish of her parents to strip her freedom and force her down that path.