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Posts Tagged ‘judgment’

Forgiveness

It’s clear that my fear helps me think I’m not enough. Not ______ enough. And that blank can be filled with many different things. I also have a bit of a misconception about forgiveness that I’m looking at today.

I wrote a while back about being grabbed at the park by some creepy guy and how messed up I was about it. I’m not used to thinking of myself as a victim anymore. I consider myself a strong and confident woman, and when that happened, I started to question my perception of myself. Here is how my mind was using fear to keep me trapped instead of letting go:

  1. There were two of us at the park that day with our girls. He grabbed me. I must have looked like the weaker one. That’s one of those insidious lies my fear starts bringing forward. As if some crazy guy (who later wielded a pen as if it were a knife when confronted by the policeman) was discerning enough to decide who looked like the easier target.
  2. The day it happened I downplayed everything – especially how it felt to have my arms pinned to my sides from behind. I didn’t want to think through to what might have happened if my friend had not been there. What if he had chosen to attack before she got there? Why had I gotten out of the car when I saw a strange man at the park? He creeped me out, but I overcame my own internal warning system saying to myself, Times are hard right now & not every homeless guy at the park is dangerous. Have some compassion. Then I followed dd within 24 inches of the play equipment & didn’t let her out of my sight.
  3. Now I find out the police didn’t arrest him. It appears that they took him to a mental facility from which he was released shortly thereafter. They did this for a number of reasons (like the fact that he acted a bit crazy) and it seems like a big part of it is that I wasn’t actually injured because I got loose before anything happened. Here I question my worth- was it not important that this happened? was I not that important that they would arrest him? I feel invalidated. It’s not personal, but it feels personal.
  4. Now he’s been arrested for similarly attacking 2 other women, only these women didn’t get away until after he dragged them to the ground. I can’t help but wonder- if they had arrested him back in September, would these other events have happened? It makes me angry that it happened at all.

So I’m angry. I’m angry at the police for not arresting him in Sept. I’m angry at him for grabbing me and making me feel unsafe in my own neighborhood. And I’m angry at myself for not being more proactive, for not paying attention to the warning signs, for taking chances with my daughter’s safety.

But I don’t want to be angry. It keeps me stuck in the role of victim. It keeps me stuck in the experience of fear. So my next step is forgiveness and realizing that forgiveness doesn’t mean that “everything is ok.” (I mean, if you’re reading this you can see that things are not yet ok.) But if I am going to get to ok, if I am going to reclaim my strength and confidence, I have to start with me. I can’t change anyone or anything else.

So I choose to forgive the experience. I forgive being in the wrong place at the wrong time. I forgive hiding under the covers for a week after. I forgive myself for poor judgment. I forgive this man for his action and intention. I forgive the police for being numb to crime.

I choose to release my anger. I choose to live without regret. I am sure this experience is here to teach me something and I am open to seeing what that might be. I choose to let go my ideas and expectations surrounding this experience and instead open to the limitless possibility of today.

I choose.

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While I’ve been considering homeschooling the girls since J was a baby, the time is approaching when I have to make the decision to be officially homeschooling or enroll her in public or private kindergarten. And although I have one year left, school assignment here is done a bit sooner than that. So if I want to have any opportunity to select her school, I have to decide soon. And if we’re going to consider private school, I’m already getting to the end of the line for next year.

I originally considered homeschooling because of the negative reputation of Florida public schools. I didn’t do much research on public schools, it’s just a general opinion expressed to me by others that made me consider that I had choices. I researched homeschooling requirements and talked to lots of homeschoolers whose children were excited about learning (some all year long). In these families, everything was made into an opportunity to practice and learn- even especially trips to the store, errands, & chores.

I want my girls to continue to love learning as much as they do now. I want them to ask questions, to wonder about everything. I also consider the social implications of schools where kids “learn” that learning is boring, it’s not cool to be smart, and what you wear and fitting in can become more important than owning your opinion and thoughts. I want my girls to have a chance to be who they are for a while, and learn to really like themselves before they are told by a bully they should be different. There are many more wants, and most are related to free-thinking and non-conformity.

In a conversation with a local homeschool mom, we talked about what she liked best with homeschooling and the curriculum she chose to use. She mentioned the format for testing:

To really see what the kids know without any pressure or judgment, each test is taken more than once. (wow!)

The first time is practice so the child can see what they don’t understand and can go back to learn the material covered in the lesson they may have missed. Then they take the “real” test, and the parent can then bring even more assistance to the learning process, if needed. But because they have had time to identify and correct any deficiency, there is no test anxiety. They don’t worry about the test. They realize it’s just a gauge to help them learn.

In my homeschool world, we don’t have tests. Of course, right now, we’re not official. But I really hadn’t intended to use written testing as a measuring tool, since I’m not required to follow a set curriculum or format. In my world, it’s kind of easy to see if the kids understand what we’re learning just by asking them questions about it as we go along. (i.e. While K learns to count objects, and we’re counting aloud, if she misses a number, it’s pretty obvious.)

It was during my processing of that conversation about testing that I was able to find words for something I hadn’t been able to articulate in the past. I don’t like the judgment associated with testing in most schools. The tests really don’t help student learn.

I’m sure testing was originally put in place to show the teacher what each child had learned (and missed) from the material covered in the lesson. It only makes sense that you’d need the kids to write it down when there are 20+ students in a class with one teacher. I can’t think of another effective way to be sure everyone learned the lessons.

And if the point of testing is to see who understands the material, it would seem a logical next step to go back and help students learn what they missed. Can today’s public school teachers help when students don’t understand & don’t ace the test? In our local schools, there isn’t time to delay the whole class from moving on to the next topic (they might not cover all the FCAT topics.) And what would the rest of the class do during the time taken to review material for only a few students?

I remember clearly in my school growing up, when test results came back, it was a “Good job!” (usually with a smiley face or sticker) to have learned the material being taught. So what did it mean when we didn’t learn all the material? No one probably ever wrote “Bad job :-(” on top of a poor test result, but it wasn’t necessary. It was clear from early on that you were “good” if you learned and “bad” if you didn’t. We all “knew” kids with poor test results didn’t work hard enough; they weren’t smart enough, and they were not “good.” And we knew this whether we had high or low test scores.

And what does it mean when the measure of learning, the tool that ought to be helping both student and teacher, is then assigned a “grade” and transferred to a report card for each child? Then we’re saying, Your learning is excellent; Yours is good; You are average; You are below average, You are failing. Who is really failing?

To use something that should be only a tool to promote better learning as a method of comparison and judgment, definitely affects how kids feel about themselves and others.

I don’t want my kids’ self-esteem to be tied to a number or test result. I’d rather my girls get a good view of themselves before letter grades and judgment is tied to their learning progress- especially when learning should be, and can be, really fun.

Hmmm. Sounds like I’m more committed to homeschooling than I felt when I started writing today.

Do you homeschool? Why/why not? What do YOU think of testing?

Note:  I’m not one of those parents who think kids need to be sheltered from all things that make them uncomfortable- like losing at games, trying new things, etc. In fact, I play The Lady-Bug Game all out. I don’t allow J to cheat and although she generally beats me by half the board- it’s fair and square. Her cousin and I have each won a few times, but J still enjoys playing, because it’s a fun game. She continues to play because she has support, one-on-one from me, in learning that sometimes she’ll win and sometimes not. Losing is a skill parents can help kids learn. But we’re not tracking wins and losses– there is no overall tally. And we are clear that our pride comes from her acceptance and good sportsmanship more than the game result.

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