Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Drawing Out

A big emotional and logistical hassle of our impending move to a different city is the fact that our children will be switching school systems.  Again.  Our older daughter will be finishing her sophomore year in high school, our younger sixth grade.  Clearly, for the high schooler, there is much more angst and emotion, although this shouldn't be thought to discount our younger daughter's hurt at leaving her friends and a school where she's been both happy and successful.

Add to this that the public schools in the city of Rockford aren't the best, as well as being quite large, and the result is this is the single most important issue facing us.  Indeed, it was the first matter Lisa and I discussed even before we talked about whether or not to accept the appointment or not.  Of course, not accepting the appointment would have meant trouble for her; on the other hand, I know Lisa would have accepted it for the sake of our children.

Before we went much further down the way of discussing the matter itself, Lisa mentioned the possibility of private schools.  In fact, not far from where we shall be living is the campus of Rockford Christian Schools, a non-denominational K-12 school that, while expensive, won't be outside our ability to afford.  Our older daughter, in particular, is interested in music and theater, so we checked out what the school offered for someone like her, and were pleasantly surprised to find all sorts of programs, many of them similar to those at her current, public, high school.

At the same time, we thought it important to check out the public schools the girls might attend.  The high school for our area of the city has a student body of 2,000, with a faculty/staff of 200.  That's not a pleasing ratio, at least for me.  At the same time, the school offers music and theater courses, too, providing opportunities for students to explore these particular art forms.

So, Lisa and I decided the best thing to do is offer the girls a choice.  When we started talking about this matter when we let them know about the move, we had them take a look at the websites for the schools.  Of course, there are other private schools in Rockford - a Lutheran High School and a Catholic High School as we well as the non-denominational "Christian" school -and we may yet take a look at them, too.  All the same, our younger daughter seems willing to go the private school route.

One thing that got me thinking was the fact that, while unaffiliated with any denomination, the school does include religious instruction, including required courses in Bible reading and study.  Obviously, I don't care much about that one way or another; at the same time, I did wonder whether the schools would offer real science classes or teach "creationism" or "intelligent design".  As soon as I thought about it, though, I realized I couldn't care less.  If the girls want a real science education and the school doesn't provide it, that's something they can get at home.  The far smaller student body - each class, K-12, has about 100 students in it - combined with a Christian atmosphere, are all advantages; also, being a private school, the other students will be far more accommodating to new students than an enormous public school, filled with kids who have already drawn the social lines firmly and clearly.  All in all, I would be much happier if our older daughter chose to go to Rockford Christian, but we are determined to honor her choice.

Education literally means "to draw out" our "draw up".  Rather than pound a lot of facts in empty skulls, the whole point is to get people to use the tools education offers them to be the best persons they can be.  I can't think of a better, more healthy, more accommodating atmosphere than a Christian school for two girls who will be making a big transition in life, all the while still needing to learn and grow.

Virtual Tin Cup

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