Okay, I simply must comment on a story I read on CNN Entertainment: The Marquee Blog. It was an interview with Angelina Jolie about, of all things, educating children. Some of what she said was sort of a no-brainer, but absolutely true, and some was just ridiculously-in-your-face to most of us who are raising and/or educating children in the United States today. Let me explain what I mean.
One of her comments which I thoroughly agree with was: “I do think we live in a different age and the education system hasn’t caught up with our children and our way of life.”
To a large degree, this is very true. We live in a more global world today as a result of improvements in technology, but a large percentage of teachers, like myself, grew up in a much smaller world where computers were a mystery because we just didn’t have access to them. While most of us have learned to embrace this bigger world picture, some veteran teachers still are fearful of computers and the Internet and have a basic distrust of them both, making it difficult for them to encourage the use of computers or to use them as teaching tools when they are uncomfortable with them personally.
The other major reason for the education system being unable to “catch up” is purely financial. When school systems are struggling financially and being forced to make tremendous cutbacks, how do they keep up with the constantly changing technological devices? No sooner do we “catch up” than what we just caught up with is considered obsolete, and we have to “catch up” again. Unless public education suddenly finds a rich benefactor, trying to keep up financially with ever changing products is impossible. In our school, we finally have Smartboards in every classroom, and now the big push is providing iPads for every student! In our present economic climate, it just isn’t happening!
So, Angelina, I will acknowledge the accuracy of this comment, but I would contest that it isn’t for lack of trying that we are playing catch up!
Angelina also said, “I feel that there’s got to be a new way to tailor things more directly to our children. Considering the amount of information we have today, the internet and online books… We as parents need to think about how we can shake it up and make it better.”
I heartily agree! We live in an age where information of any variety is just a few clicks away. The power that creates is awesome, and parents owe it to their children to encourage them and work with them to become self-learners. Encourage them to read about their interests online, to blog about them, to search out the questions they have on their own, to communicate with children from other countries and learn about their cultures. This is how you raise children who are creative, avid, problem-solving contributors to our society. So, yes, help your child to use the resources at their fingertips responsibly, and not just for their personal entertainment.
Now, here’s where it gets almost insulting to those of us out here who make an average living. The article mentions that Angelina and Brad’s children are enrolled in the Lycee Programme, a blending of Anglo Saxon and French schooling, in several different countries including New York, Prague, and Venice. So I did a little exploring to get an idea of what such an education would cost on the New York campus. Here it is:
2011-2012 Tuition & Fees
Pre-Kindergarten to 12th Grade : $24,720
Additional Non-Refundable Fees
Application / Re-enrollment fee: $200
Lunch Fee (Kindergarten to 7th Grade): $1200
Books and supplies fee (1st to 7th Grade): $170
APL Fee per student: $45
New student fee (one-time fee for the first year only): $3000
Okay, now that we have some picture of what they are paying for each child’s education, it gets better, because Angelina continues to explain, “But we have different teachers from different cultures in our house, who travel with us. Not only nannies but teachers. To us it’s about building a team around us where we can all be enhanced culturally and they can help with following a curriculum legally.”
Hurrah for you and your family! It’s wonderful that you can afford this for your children and that you feel the need to tell us all that you can! But it was at this point in the article that I wanted to call someone from CNN Entertainment and ask how they could possibly use this woman with her millions of dollars to be a spokesperson for improving the educational system!
Get real, who wouldn’t love to be able to provide this kind of education for their children? Who wouldn’t love to take them from country to country to learn firsthand about other cultures, while taking a whole entourage of teachers and tutors to work with them all along the way? Give public schools these kinds of resources and just watch what we could do, too!
To hold this up as the standard by which we judge the educational system here in the United States makes me so angry. It’s like comparing lobster to hot dogs! It’s simply ludicrous! Shame on you, CNN Entertainment, for even publishing this piece. And shame on you, Angelina Jolie, for tearing down a system which could never compete with yours, not because it doesn’t have the desire and the personnel, but because it doesn’t have your resources!
Maybe you should consider sharing some of those resources and becoming a financial benefactor of the education system you are so quick to denigrate.