My son will be starting his high school classes in a few days, and I think we are both experiencing the same mixed feelings one typically has in any new endeavor: excitement about the possibilities and trepidation about whether we will be able to handle the new challenges. And I think we both, but me more so than him, are also experiencing some grieving over leaving what has been behind. Our earlier years together seem easier, less complex, filled with the notion that we had plenty of time to get around to studying all the things we wanted to cover.....eventually.
But in high school, it feels like the clock starts ticking. Now we only have a few more precious years to cover not only the school subjects required for college admission, but all the life skills necessary for him to live his life on his own. And now we must face the reality of test scores and grades and deadlines that had been a lot less important in his earlier years of schooling.
Plus, the high school years provide me with the added challenge of beginning the process of letting him go. Each year I must step back more and more so that when it comes time for him to leave the nest, he is ready to fly. Which, of course, is what we all want for our children. But it is not always easy to prepare for the day when the ones you love so much and have made the center of your life are not there any more.
But I was thinking, it is easy for us to see how much our children have changed over their years with us, but much harder for us to recognize how much we have changed as well. I'm not the same person who started this parenting journey, and I'll be a different person once my son has left home. So when that happens, I hope I'll be able to let go of my image from my past as a parent and embrace the new person I'll be with my son on his own in the world.
I just happened upon these videos this morning, and they gave me some encouragement about stepping up to my new future. The first is of the queen of reinvention herself, Madonna. It is a video of her performing the song "Vogue" over a span of 22 years. Some years she is wearing virtually nothing, one year she is dressed in full 18th-century regalia, and many other phases in between. But she is an inspiration about how she can keep singing the same song, but keep it fresh, year after year. Check it out on YouTube at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pEvaNDOGnD8&feature=share&list=RD02pEvaNDOGnD8
Then there is a similar video of Elton John, singing one of my very favorites of his songs. His performance is quieter, but perhaps more profound. But it was wonderful to see that the song remains equally powerful as Sir Elton has transitioned from long hair to white hair:
So where ever you are in the journey of teaching your high schooler....whether you are just beginning and worried about getting it right, or exhausted by it all and can't wait to get it done.... I hope you find these videos as comforting as I did.
Good luck for the coming year!
Jeffrey J. Selingo, editor at large for the Chronicle of Higher Education, has written a compelling book that looks at the state of higher education: “College (Un)bound: The Future of Higher Education and What it Means for Students” (Amazon Publishing/New Harvest, $26)....
Part of the reason higher education is in trouble can be traced to the “Lost Decade,” as Selingo calls it. He defines it as the period from 1999 to 2009 when colleges were “chasing high-achieving students, showering them with scholarships to snatch them from competitors, and going deep into debt to build lavish residence halls, recreational facilities, and other amenities that contribute nothing to the actual learning of students.”
But the decade of more has come to an end, leaving many people in debt. In 2003, according to Selingo, only two colleges charged more than $40,000 annually for tuition, fees, room and board. By 2009, 224 had crossed the mark, and another 58 had passed the $50,000 plateau.....
Selingo’s historical tour of higher education is important in order to understand how to resolve the problems in the scholastic industry. You come away with a keener understanding of why college costs so much and how schools have been able to get families to ignore prices. His research is peppered with real-life examples of high-school students sold on colleges they couldn’t afford....
Moving forward to the future, Selingo talks about the forces that are and will continue to change higher education. Schools are in debt, state funds to colleges have been cut, and fewer families are willing to pay skyrocketing prices. Such developments will force schools to deliver their product in increasingly different ways, such as providing more online courses. He profiles a program that allows students, especially older adults returning to college, to demonstrate the mastery of a subject through a series of assessment tests, thereby reducing the time and money they need to spend to get a degree. He sees an unbundling of the traditional structured college experience.
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