Once, as a Learning Support Teacher, I made my way down to the annexe that housed the school’s History Department.
The annexe was about 100 metres from the main school building, down an attractive, leafy hill.
On the way I was irked by two girls in front of me complaining about the hill, the wind ruffling their hair, the distance from one classroom to another, and so on.
I joined the History class with the moans and groans still ringing in my ears. However, the topic of the lesson soon gripped me:
Life in Thirteenth Century Scotland.
The ordinary people in those days lived in squalid huts, unlike the nobles with their heavily fortified castles. But even they faced many challenges. Fighting was a way of life and the fear of attack preoccupied everyone.
In the cold, draughty, disease-ridden castles people who lived to forty were considered old.
Not much scope for personal development and parenting projects there!
Bumpy dirt tracks served as roads and the trees that covered most of the land made travel difficult. Schools and child education did not exist.
After the lesson I made my way back up to the main building. This time I overheard another conversation – or to be more precise, one side of a conversation.
A girl behind me chatted to her mum, many miles away on the outskirts of the city. The small cellphone clamped to the girl’s ear made it possible.
Times had certainly changed since the 13th century!
Not only could this girl travel many miles by comfortable transport every day, but at the touch of a button she could chat with her mum.
This made me think again of the two I’d overheard on the way down. Unlike their 13th century counterparts, they could walk safely on a dry, tarmac surface and enjoy the benefits of a good education. Yet they moaned and groaned . . .
Yes, teaching – and parenting – teenagers brings its challenges!
But if raising confident children is our goal, why not start early, and help them develop a sense of awe and wonder. Help them realise how far we’ve progressed.
Stress the benefits growing families enjoy today – benefits unavailable to our predecessors, for whom life was hell.
Make your kids aware of the changes even since they were infants: iPods, mp3s, DVDs, multiplex cinemas, online bookings, video cellphones – when you think about it, the list is impressive!
And the downside: in a world saturated with resources and abundance, millions starve. Yet all could be put right so easily!
Your children are young and impressionable, so true-life stories will absorb their insatiable interest. Make this part of your home education program, working hand-in-hand with their special school projects.
And it will pay dividends. Informed, appreciative children become confident, tolerant, fair-minded and determined young people.