Friday, February 13, 2009

The Magic Wand

This morning I went to a breakfast meeting sponsored by our local community college to discuss opportunities for dual enrollment for high school students. Most community colleges offer this kind of program, in which high school students can take classes at the community college for both high school and college credit.

The vast majority of those in attendance were guidance counselors from local public high schools, and one private school was represented. As an icebreaker, we were asked to complete this writing prompt at our tables: "If I had a magic wand, I would…" I chose to be the scribe at our table, because I could only think of things like, "… have my house clean when I get home" and "…eat chocolate cake every day without gaining weight." Those are not the kinds of wishes that the rest of the participants at my table were expressing. They were saying things about "funding" and "enthusiasm" and "time."

My wishes are, indeed, simple. Sure, I'd love to have a portion of the money that is allotted per student in our school district (over $8000/year per student). Just magic-wand $1000 of that per child my way—no strings attached— and I'd be thrilled! But really, I just want the days to run smoothly, for my kids to be happy, and for there to be all the ingredients in my refrigerator for a delicious supper.

After a few minutes the six or so tables were asked to share their wish lists. The very first man—a counselor at a huge high school—said that he wished for stable families, and specifically for parents who were married and committed. I was amazed by this: he said that out of the top 6 students in this year's senior class where he is a counselor, 5 of the students come from 2-parent homes with involved parents. The sixth student, he explained, had a 2-parent family but the mother recently died. Wow.

Around the room the magic wand wishes echoed, and I was struck by how blessed we are to be homeschooling. I'm not saying that homeschooling is the magic wand that will solve all educational problems, but so many of the reasons that people choose to homeschool were expressed as wishes by these counselors and teachers:
* I wish we didn't have to do so much standardized testing
* I wish the kids had stable homes
* I wish the kids had a love of reading
* I wish parents would keep parenting when their kids are in high school
* I wish parents would keep nurturing their kids when they are teenagers
* I wish everyone would realize that all kids are different and need different things and that we didn't have to teach to the middle
* I wish we could spend more time giving them what they really need
* I wish kids could see the value of education and learning
* I wish we had more time
Sure, there was a lot of funding talk, too, but I really sensed the frustration in these counselors. They seemed to have the "our hands are tied" syndrome: we see what's needed, but we can't do much about it. I'm glad to know that there are so many counselors in the school systems who see core needs and are trying to find ways to fill the needs. I hope they have a strong voice in their schools, although their wishes were usually followed by heavy sighs.

What would your magic wand in your life today?


  1. A housecleaner and personal grocery shopper who would keep my fridge and pantry stocked and have a list of what to cook for every meal. All things we like of course. I don't want a cook because I like to do the cooking part, just not the planning and shopping parts.

    Then, I could focus that much more time on homeschooling.

    Oh, some more money would be nice too. Though we seem to be doing OK with limited funds.

  2. I had no idea they were having a meeting this morning. Was it invitation only?

  3. My magic wand wish is the 80% Christians still in the government schools would pull them out and the system would immediately collapse. I'm in the minority (but of course think myself correct) that homeschooling really is the ONLY way to educate. We could have all types of schools, humanist, witches, Christian, Buddhist, etc. but none using MY tax dollars, thank you.

    Oh, and all homeschoolers would keep all their own money. The giant blackhole of government schools has sucked up enough money, ruined enough minds, corrupted enough morals and drugged enough kids for many generations. The time to collapse the system that these blessed politicians send NONE of their kids to is well over!!

  4. I giggled at your initial wishes-I wish for those, too-along with a full night of sleep. LOL
    I was very touched by the wishes of those guidance counselors.
    I have a good friend who is a teacher and she has said much of the same thing. She truly desires to teach her class-and cares for the kids, but has so many obstacles that she can't control. Holly

  5. Sounds like a productive meeting, even if only for the sake of airing your wishes. How neat to hear the hearts of those in attendance.

  6. My magic wand would produce dynamic easy-to-use lesson plans that would have my kids begging to start school everyday and retaining every fabulous thing I teach!



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