What did you learn in school today?
12 June, 2014
What did you learn in school today?
“What did you teach my kid today?” is critically meaningful for every family to ask the school where their children go.

I was about fifteen when I first heard this famous country song performed by the celebrated American folk singer and composer Pete Seeger. Since then, its tune and lyrics have never escaped my memory and imagination. I am saying “imagination” because, while listening to the song played on a tape-recorder, I used to visualize every stanza and word of
it. I also took the question, contained in the title, very personally. It made me feel downright responsible for what I was learning at school. All of a sudden, I wanted to be ready by the end of every day to answer this Seegerian question. It seemed like my academic accountability before my parents and my own little self was enhanced momentarily by the question, which was sounding in my childish ears over and over again since I had first heard it. Actually, the song had a sounding which perpetuated in my young psyche the meaning of going to school: “What did you learn in school today, dear little boy of mine?” The question sounds mild and endearing but it also has a streak of certain amount of grownup strictness to it. I would make this question compulsory for every parent to ask the children when they return from school. I would not miss a day even if I were away from home. I would use my cell-phone, Skype, email, Facebook, viber or just about anything that brings the question to the ears of my little ones. The question is pressing, controlling and regulating. It renders a lot of sense to the academic process. “What did you learn in school today?” is a key question to be answered, but how many of us would bother to make it central and quintessential for all of us? Nobody should treat this question nonchalantly. And providing it with full and comprehensive answer has to be obligatory for every kid at school. The academic responsibility of a student is certainly important, but a school’s obligation before the student is even greater. Let us now reverse the question: “What did you teach my kid today, dear fine school of mine?” This is the question with the latent power to overturn the academic system of the country. Imagine the situation which obliges every school and each teacher of that school to be prepared to answer that question regularly and responsibly. Knowing what our schools are teaching our youth, is almost equal to looking into our future, and building it in compliance with modern and prospective demands of time. Being aware of what kind and scope of lore our sons and daughters are acquiring in our schools practically means a guaranteed usage of the received knowledge in the post-school real world. On the other hand, only knowing what the schools are teaching is not sufficient at all. We also need to know for sure what is worth teaching, and when the worth things are worth teaching. Knowledge is illusive – it may come or it may not. Schools must know exactly what to teach, when to teach, why to teach and how to teach, giving our kids the knowledge they need for survival. I think I have missed one W-question though – who should teach is extremely important as well, probably most important. But teachers are humans like us – some are good and some are bad. So there is no guarantee that our progeny is getting them the education they need in order for them to survive. This is why the question “What did you teach my kid today?” is critically meaningful for every family to ask the school where their children go. Personally, I am not sure that most of the schools in Georgia, be it of any level – primary, middle, high, undergraduate, graduate or postgraduate – are ready to prepare our children for an adult life, before they start taking care of themselves on their own. Preparation for the adult life means such maturation of a young man or a woman when the knowledge and ethical values, given to them by a school, have a potential to make a living. Schools have a power to provide for such practicable and quality knowledge if the academic system and social environment within a school are comprehensively functional in the most contemporary sense. And the contemporary sense means a chance of giving and acquiring such knowledge and qualification which is working in future life and generating a source of wellbeing. To put it more laconically, a school should guarantee the acquisition of such skills and knowledge which makes money. The only way to fulfill this is the ability of a school to look into the future, using the available general knowledge and information, and make an optimal forecast – a person of what qualification will be able to make an independent survival once that person is out of school and into the street. Thus the most pragmatic academic questions of our life are those two that I have asked in the beginning: a) What did you learn in school today, dear little kid of mine? And b) What did you teach my kid today, dear fine school of mine? The first one is for parents to be asking their kids persistently on an everyday basis so that they are ceaselessly in the swim of their child’s academic and behavioral matters. The second one is also for parents, but it is for them to ask their kid’s school. If the parents are getting unabashed, unreserved and unambiguous answers to those questions, and the answers are satisfactory for an educated inquisitive parent, then the future of the country might be considered promising and bright. But if the answers are turning uncertain, blurred and indistinct, then forget about the good future of the nation. Just enjoy whatever is suggested and be happy with what you have, because unsatisfactory answers to those crucial questions will not provide for satisfactory results. Sorry! Oh, my God, how many times should I say “sorry”?

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