Tuesday, May 31, 2011
I've been lucky enough to attend many graduations with my family beginning with my own high school graduation many years ago. While that doesn't seem like such an accomplishment these days I come from a family where education is met with mixed reviews (and results). I left high school with barely a thought of going on to post-secondary. First, it wasn't really a tradition in my family. Second, I never really saw myself as the "university type", you know, one of the smart kids! Third, my parents had a rule that we started paying rent the day we graduated high school so it was off in search of a job immediately. While my boyfriend of the day (now my husband) knew from early on that he was university bound in the quest to become a math teacher (he knew in the primary grades it was a math teacher of a football player:), I had no such vision.
When we started our own family we knew that our children would grow up with the expectation that university was simply what you did following graduation. Our son was always curious and thirsted for knowledge from the moment he was born. We still remember those early years of driving around Victoria in our Volkswagen beatle listening to him yell out; STOP, THE BAY, THE RED LION, THE UNIVERSITY OF VICTORIA and any other building or road signs that caught his eye. He was, as most children are, a natural learner. His early introduction to numbers was via changing channels on the television. While we had limited choices in those days he could certainly find any of the numbers between 1 and 12 with little difficulty. It was a joyous moment for my husband when he had his own little "channel changer" long before the electronic version hit the markets.
Last week, our little boy graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in elementary education. As mentioned above, we KNEW this day would come:) What we couldn't know then though was how long his journey would be. Our son's university grad took place almost 20 years after he graduated high school. He has had many life experiences along the way, including having a child of his own, that will make him a much better teacher. Had he gone on to his chosen career straight out of high school, as we imagined, he would not be the person he is today. He has faced many struggles and overcome them all. He has travelled extensively seeeing places he would not have otherwise seen. He has met people who have influenced him in so many different ways. His daughter has had a profound impact on how he sees the world. All of these experiences have had a profound impact on how he views the world and all of them will affect how he presents his knowledge to the students who will be lucky enough to have him as a teacher.
As an educator, I am constantly exposed to the data regarding students who do not graduate within the timeline expected from the ministry of education or the world in general. I am constantly irritated by how these statistics are presented as a "failure" of our system, or even worse, of those individuals. Anyone who has children, or in fact been a child themself, will tell you that we all find our own way in our own time. To make your way back to education after time in the working world is a huge accomplishment. The financial sacrifice of leaving a paying job and the sacrifice of time with your family makes the accomplishment inifinitely more joyous.
As my son crossed that stage last week I watched with tears of joy and pride in my eyes. I know the sacrifices he and his family have made in order to make this happen. I know the challenges he faced along the way. I know the amount of determination and effort that went into each one of his papers and each one of his lessons during his time in the classroom. I know that having his daugher in the audience watching this accomplishment will impact her life as well. I know that he will be a better teacher for taking the road less travelled. I know that many things have come easy to him in his life but that this graduation was not one of them. I have always been proud of him, as a person, as an athlete, as a scholar, as a dad and a son but I also know I have never been more proud of him than I was as he accepted his degree. Not because of the accomplishment itself but because the journey was difficult and he he simply stayed the course. Congratulations Jason!
Posted by Live Each Day at 5:12 PM