The achievements of an organization are the results
of the combined effort of each individual.
.Hello from the Dean of Student Services.
How should parents use their power? (And what does that have to do with schools?)
In centuries past, power meant position. Kings and rulers were uniquely authoritative. Landowners were powerful too. Wealth and resources were in the land - and land was owned by a select few.
These days, however, power is a different concept. Wealth is in labor and hands, not in rulers and their land. Eric Liu, writer and former civil servant, says power acts like water. It’s not static. It follows channels already established. Power is not just in people, but in ideas, numbers, influence, and social norms. Like electricity in our bodies, power courses through human situations repeatedly.
Parenting is also full of power. However, just like the idea of kings has lost some of its golden luster, so too the idea of the parent king/queen is waning. The almighty all-right parent is no longer the same accepted norm it used to be. The ruler-parent from the 20th century is gone: the good dad or good teacher who spanks and uses corporal punishment to control behaviors has largely exited the building. (Read Anne of Green Gables for more on this. Or ask my therapist/pastor father who built a wooden paddle with loving care when we were babies.)
Regardless of your particular feeling on these shifts, we’re all in the same swamp. We’re riding in the same unsteady boat. We’re caught in a society that exists between two ideals and two worlds.
While we’re technically living in a democracy, the values of democracy don’t inform many of our daily systems. Philosopher Elizabeth Anderson has shown how workplaces operate like little governments. Even though work is contractual, businesses run like dictatorships. They are “places with employees who take orders from their bosses. And if they disobey their orders, they are subject to a sanction known as firing, or other sanctions like demotion or a pay cut or just getting yelled at and harassed at work.” Often Americans like these systems. They crave clarity. Still, many workers may only have the choice between which dictatorship they will choose. This is not exactly the free choice when one needs to eat.
In short, it is no wonder that parenting is culturally confusing. Living in a mixed-up nation translates into our homes. Our large, overarching values are for free speech and free choice, but our little governments (workplaces, etc.) still strongly favor hierarchy and strict limits. We are living in bi-polar realities.
The confusion of living in this system has long been seeping into parenting choices. After all, we ourselves are left to make a little government in our own homes. We are (understandably) unsure how to accomplish the task well. How much voice and participation should each parent have? What role does tradition play? Extended family? What about children’s perspectives and voices? Why, how, and when should they be considered? Who makes the rules? Why?
[Yes, parents who note that it seems short-sighted to give an equal vote to a persuasive/loud toddler are right. (Or for that matter a teenager who loves only being alone in their room, SnapChat, and ice cream.) This hesitance is the same one that Plato expressed in The Republic. He was concerned about democracies being co-opted by tyrants and the power hungry. Wise and knowledgeable leaders, he suggests, would not be a bad thing.]
Amidst this social confusion, schools are doing their best to meet families’ complex, varied, and often changing needs. This is the reason I raised the parenting superpower of knowledge and closeness to children last week. Amidst the chaos, we as humans can and must find throughlines to connect on.
While parenting work can be hard to understand right now, this is perhaps the easiest to grasp and connect on. No matter what kind of parent you are - adoptive, grandparent, neighbor, foster - you have access to see a child in unique ways that others do not. You can understand how externals might impact them and what they might need. It’s your own kind of X-ray vision that others may not have of this child, and it can benefit them enormously.
Still, it’s vital to handle this power with care. Using this knowledge can easily get out of balance if we only focus it on benefitting children in narrow ways. As philosopher Sara Ruddick noted in 1989, caring for children means balancing the competing demands of not just preserving a child, but also prioritizing their growth, and their acceptability. Parents must think in complex ways to balance these various needs.
If parents use the power of knowledge and closeness of their child only to preserve them, growth and social connection might be neglected.
It’s easy to blame parents right now and lampoon them as helicopters or employ other dismissive terms. But such blame is short-sighted - it fails to recognize that confusion plays a key role. With technology, the job market, and social norms changing with increasing speed, when parents try to help their children grow and gain appropriate skills, they are shooting at moving targets. Most parents (and humans) don’t know what kind of growth is actually needed.
Moreover, parents also don’t have the clarity they once did in teaching social acceptability. New ideas and ideals are unfolding. Parents may want to teach a daughter to not care what people think, but also to be kind, to work on a team, to be respectful, and to be aware of everyone else constantly. (How is that possible, exactly?) They may want to teach a boy to take responsibility, be aware of their impact, take-risks but only good/safe ones, and still have fun and be themselves. Again, these are big paradoxes adults can barely understand - but we’re supposed to be teaching them to our children, who want to play on their iPads and talk to their friends. Yeesh. No wonder we default to trying to preserve our children - that task is the infinitely clearer one.
In truth, these complex needs are why schools exist - or why they should. This is why community schools are unique and work well when parents and educators work together. Our society was right to decide it was best to have experts who worked together to teach more than self-preservation (or self-benefit) in schools. Schools are places where adults practice knowing the kind of growth and acceptability needed for success for children.
Coming out of COVID, it is more important than ever that families and schools trust each other and work together on these other categories. The super-power of knowing and understanding children’s needs must go beyond just conversations about a child’s preservation, but about the bigger picture of children developing. We must also help children grow and gain new skills, even if it is uncomfortable to get them. We must also work on helping students fit into and work within systems - in communities - so they have chances to genuinely cooperate in groups in the years to come.
One of my first mistakes was removing my child’s discomfort immediately and instinctually. I could see and experience her suffering, so I took it away from (both of us) quickly. Uggg. What a rookie mistake, I realized fairly quickly.
I’ve had more luck working to use my knowledge of my child to listen well and ask good questions. I know (sometimes) when to ask, “What did you do to solve that problem
While there are many ways to use the power of parenting closeness successfully, one that increasingly matters is in helping children understand the difference between their intentions and their impacts.
vital and precious because they are the moments children are learning to look beyond themselves.
They are working to develop perspective-taking skills, empathy, awareness, and self-responsibility. People outside their families are asking them to start paying attention to their impact and not just think about their intention. Children are starting to notice the effect they have on others.
The impact that we have is perhaps one of the most important things for children to understand.
If the power to know and understand when and why your child is experiencing discomfort has no purpose to
They must figure out how to use their power for good. (With great power comes great responsibility - it was Voltaire before it was Spider-Man, trust me.)
Aril 25- Board Meeting @ 6pm
April 27-29 Coyote Outdoor School
Lost & Found:
From 4/19 all items (not labeled) that come though Lost and Found will be tagged with a date. All items will be donated after 6weeks. We again encourage you to label all of your student's clothing as well as lunch bags, water bottles and tupperware. If they have a name when we collect them we know where to return them. Thank you!
Please return library books in a timely manner. After two weeks they should be renewed or returned. Thank you!
Hello from PCS (People for Coburg School), the school's parent group. This week is all about the Bronco Bash…
Bronco Bash: RSVP Deadline - next Monday 4/25. An invitation was mailed to your home with all of the details about this year’s auction on May 14th. (If you lost it please email the Auction Chair, Jen Derby at email@example.com). We are expecting this event to sell out, so please return your RSVP card by the deadline next Monday - either mailing or returning to the black box in front of the school. Note: if you organize a table of 8 with other families, the tickets are slightly cheaper and the table will receive 2 bottles of wine!
Bronco Bash: Donations & Sponsorships? We are lining up some AMAZING auction items (preview of some live auction items below)….but could use a few more if you have a business that you’d be willing to approach and/or you’re able to donate. The forms are online: www.coburgcharter.com/fundraising or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bronco Bash: Get Ready to Bid… To start planning what you might bid on, here are some of the live auction items this year:
A set of braces from Chvatal Orthodontics (if you’re interested in a free exam before the auction, please contact his office www.eugenebraces.com)
A pizza each month for an entire year from Coburg Pizza Company
4 tickets to the UO vs. U-Dub game on 11/12
Private Party at PublicHouse
Gorgeous house rental for four in Sonoma County with views of the Russian River and Pacific Ocean
Rafting trip with Dusty Smith
$1,000 in Radio Ads (5 different Cumulus station options)
Ski-weekend in Sisters
...and more! Many thanks to our current financial sponsors: Jon Derby/Edward Jones, Kristi Blain/Triple Oaks Realty, Chvatal Orthodontics, Johnson Brothers, Slocum, Wildish Sand & Gravel, Chiefs Brew House, Alison Cramer/Valley Homes, Grace Manor, Guaranty, Shannon Hay/Icon Real Estate Group, Hayward Inn, Johnsen Electric, Rosboro, Coburg Pizza Company, Central Print, and ES&A Sign and Awning Co. Other questions or comments? E-mail PCS@coburgcharter.org. Thank you!
Walk + Roll to school:
We encourage you to walk or roll to school each day the first week of May! You can park at the church (please see instructions below) or the park in Coburg and walk, carpool with a friend, ride your bike, etc. Each day your student participates, they'll get a raffle ticket to enter into a drawing at the end of the week!
(Parking info: 1. Use the blacktop parking at the East entrance off W Van Duyn (not gravel) 2. Please use sidewalk rather than walking through lot 3. Exit through same entrance (not West or through private driveway)
We’re looking for a few extra hands on deck for Monday, May 23. This person(s) would help with morning recess (9:30-10:00am) and lunch duty (11:45-1:15pm.) You must be a cleared volunteer to help.
If you’re available to help please email email@example.com
Thank you, Thank you!
-Thank you to our volunteers of the past week! Huge shout out to Brenda W, Ashley L, Stacey A, Sheila G, Kelsey B, Liz S, Rose E, Andrea M, Jenny B, Elaine C, Amanda S, Stacy H, Mary M, Marilee W, McKenzie B, Shannon H, Kalee P, Melissa M, Heather T, and Jen F! We appreciate you! It's not too late to get cleared to volunteer in your child's classroom this year! Email firstname.lastname@example.org to start the process!
Thank you to our April Sponsor!