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Be careful with attitude toward education

At some point, probably soon, our society is going to have to rethink education.

It’s not a structural problem, a curriculum problem or a personnel problem that will need to be addressed — though all three of those things should certainly be examined too.

Instead, an attitude change is in order.

For centuries, educators and the rest of society have been entirely correct to believe that some lessons are best taught at home or church.

That’s the way it should be, and I tend to agree with many folks who believe mom and dad should teach children right from wrong, the birds and the bees, manners, discipline, etc.

But it’s a fact of life — increasingly so every day — that mom and dad aren’t teaching those lessons. Children aren’t going to church as much as they should, either.

None of that is the child’s fault.

Since the government can’t easily mandate that mom and dad do their jobs, society — mostly likely in the form of the schools where children spend so much time — is going to have to pick up the slack or give up altogether and let our nation dissolve.

The latter is not a very patriotic option, so it’s time to begin changing our attitudes.

Anyone who starts a conversation about the education of our children with the phrase, “Well, when I was a kid,” must learn to drop that mentality or simply be excluded from the problem-solving team.

The world will never be what it was 40 years ago, even 10 years ago.

Children today are different, and adults must adjust to that fact.

It’s also highly unlikely that society — or the government — can affect change on the parents. They are adults, and as evidenced by those among us who insist on saying, “When I was a kid,” we know adults are hard-headed.

Most adults have already done all the changing they are likely to do.

However, all is not lost.

Our hope, as always, is in the children. Children’s minds are moldable, bendable and easy to change.

They are influenced first by their parents, true, but outside influences do make a difference to children, especially teens. Why else did you spend hours creating the Farrah Fawcett feathered hair look?

Society can teach right from wrong to today’s children, but only if the adults who make up society are willing to change themselves.

But I just said you cannot change adults, right?

Therein lies our problem.

Only when sound-thinking adults get past their own hang-up with change will tomorrow’s children truly have hope.

That means all the smart parents out there who have taught their children how to act must open their hearts to care about more than just their own children.

Adults without children must continue to care about what happens in our schools.

Leaders in positions of authority must not think about how they were raised or how they raised their own children, but instead open their eyes to how today’s children are raised and apply their own standard of values and morality to the modern world.

The moms and dads of the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s who we think did such a good job raising their families have failed if the adults today don’t care about the world and teach the values they hold so dearly to the children — all children — in society.

I don’t like the idea of a teenager learning about a condom in a public school anymore than the next ultra-conservative Southern Baptist.

But ignoring the fact that today’s teens know about sex and are having sex at an alarming rate isn’t going to get us anywhere.

Tackling the issue head on in our schools — with the values we treasure at front of mind — is the only option. The state of Mississippi has outlined two plans for teaching sex education that public schools must implement. The most liberal of the options likely shoots too low.

The Natchez-Adams School Board must make a decision soon, but the discussion can’t end there. Instead, it’s time we open not only our eyes, but our hearts, and choose what attitude will determine tomorrow.


Julie Cooper is the managing editor of The Democrat. She can be reached at julie.cooper@natchezdemocrat.com.






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