With The Great Bear Writing Project, I have been surprised over and over again. The new session has started, and in this one, I am practically in the class.
What I didn’t realize was how close to home the subject of this session would be. For me, can you say right on target? Rural Education.
I’m from a small town in South Arkansas, a town that was once booming until the paper mill shut down. After that, one by one houses went up for sale, people started either moving to a better place or going back to school so that they could move to a better place. What little there was to do for young people, died out too. I didn’t go to the public school in my home town. My mom wanted me to get a better education. Better education? Yes. But in the process of getting that better education I lost all ability to think for myself. Kindergarden through 12th grade is plenty of time to properly corrupt a kid. I probably shouldn’t say that.
The school that I went to was a Christian school. I have no problem with this, what I have a problem with is how every text book was told through a pair of “teach everyone that Christianity is the only way and the only good in the world” goggles. There was no room for change or evolving. Everything fit into the box.
When I came to college, can you say culture shock? That’s what it was. My first history class in college was hell, because I had to relearn everything. Because no matter what all my other teachers said, everything does not fit into the box, every other religion is not wrong or corrupt, and, believe it or not, there is always more than one side to any story.
So, I got a little off topic, but what I’m saying is that in my home town, the lack of excellency in rural education caused my mom to make the decision to give me a private education. I have friends that go everywhere though. I had friends in all of these schools. I have lived and existed in a dying and deprived community. I have seen the causes. And I have seen the products.
I have seen kids with zero drive to go anywhere or do anything. I have friends that way. I know first hand what failure looks like, and what failure can do to a person’s spirit. I have witnessed what life can be like for a child who has parents that didn’t succeed, and more importantly I’ve seen what this lack of success on one end has done to the success of the children.
What can we do? What do those of us in rural communities need to do to give children a chance for success and a reason to get out? Well, I’m still working on the answers, but at least I know the questions.