Let me be the first to point out that I’m no parenting expert, psychologist or self-help guru. In fact, I’m not an expert on anything in particular. I’m just a regular guy who loves muscle cars and vintage motorcycles, and of course my loving wife and kids. Like most of you younger dads out there, I’m just trying to navigate through life while raising two daughters in this crazy world of ours. This bi-weekly column is simply a collection of my observational commentaries on balancing family life, hobbies, friends, health, and how my daughters somehow influence them all… Like Father, Like Daughters…
Sure, the most common perception is that a private school education is only for the rich and privileged. And while that opinion might have some historical truth, I’d like to suggest a slight amendment to that statement that would make it more accurate:
Private school education is not only for the rich and privileged, but also for any parent who is willing to go into debt, those willing to fundraise, those willing borrow from family, those willing to volunteer time, and especially ONLY for those willing make massive sacrifices to their lifestyles, all for the sake of their kids.
In this three-part series of Like Father, Like Daughters, I’ll endeavor to explain why I chose to pay for something that I could have for free, and why I feel that it will pay great dividends in years to come despite the many sacrifices made.
I’ve sent both my daughters to a small private school, here in Toronto, since junior kindergarten and I by no means, fraternize with the Toronto’s society of the rich and powerful. I have however, humbly fundraised, borrowed, volunteered time and made numerous sacrifices over the past seven years, and I suspect that I will continue to do so over the next ten years. So why do I do it?
Very simply, I value the character formation of my daughters and I’m willing to beg and borrow for it.
Now keep in mind, I’m not suggesting that a private school would provide a better academic education than a public school, nor am I inferring that a public school education is inferior across the board. In fact, the level of academic excellence wasn’t even a deciding factor in the private vs. public education decision. My number one priority in educating my children is their character formation and ensuring that the virtues, values and traditions that they are taught at home and by the family are also instilled in their learning environment. Virtues such as faith, hope, charity, courage, fortitude, restraint, compassion, prudence, and love, I believe, would not be promoted let alone practiced consistently by the faculty, administration and students at the local Catholic public school. Everything else scholastic and athletic falls second in my books.
So, while in the process of deciding on a school, I spoke to several teachers from both the private and public sectors and even to a few who taught both. During that discourse, I found a common trait in their outlook which I found particularly interesting. Apparently, the teachers who taught in the public school seem to abhor parent-teacher interviews, whereas the teachers who taught in the private school commonly welcomed it, even promoting them more frequently, both formally and an informally.
Now why would that be? When I proposed my observation to the various teachers, the general consensus was typically consistent. In the public school system, there seems to be a natural discord in the relationship between the teachers and the parents. Its “Us against Them”. The Teachers vs The Parents, “You bring you kid here and let us do our job”. While I’m sure that it’s not the rule with EVERY teacher in the public schools but it does appear to be commonly accepted mindset.
Surprisingly, amongst the teachers employed in the private schools, there seems to be generally accepted understanding that the parents are the primary educators and their role as a teacher is to support and supplement the parent’s direction and mandate. They in fact insist that the parents become involved in various matters of the school. I certainly like that idea. If I have a set of principles that I work to instill in my kids at home, I want them reinforced in the school. I like the idea of teacher and school accountability to the parents, rather than to a “faceless” board of trustees.
The Score: Private School 2, Public School 0
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In the next installment, I’ll discuss some of the commonly accepted “best-practices”, disclosed by some teacher friends, (over dinner and a few bottles of Australian Merlot), that has further convinced me that I’ve made the right schooling decision.