How Soon is Too Soon?

Jeff MorrowI like to watch my kids sleep.  My own biological children, not my students.  The latter would probably put me on some kind of watch list.  Anyway, I like to watch my own children sleep.  They are so peaceful and this time in their lives seems to be going so fast. (If you need a soundtrack for this blog try Fiddler on the Roof, “Sunrise, Sunset”.)  When they are asleep I get all of the gratification of being a father and none of the sass.  I actually feel like I do some of my best parenting when my kids are sleeping.

So, the other night around midnight, I poked my head into my 5 year old daughter’s room.  In a related story, I also like to walk around my house in the middle of the night.  Makes me feel like the king of my castle in a way that I rarely do when the rest of my people are up and around.  I noticed that my daughter’s school uniform was lying on the ground and I walked over to pick it up.  I noticed that she had a pin on the front and turning it over I realized that this wasn’t just any pin.  It was a WACAC pin.  That’s right, a WACAC pin.  My first thought? My daughter shops at the same geek store that I do.  It’s not unusual to find little “treasures” in my daughter’s room.  She’s a “collector”.  Perhaps that’s just a euphemism for thief.  But seeing that pin got me thinking about the subject of how soon is too soon to start talking about college.  My kids know that I’m a fan of certain teams or schools.  But being a fan and being a fit are two different things.

I grew up in Oregon, so you can probably fill in some of those blanks about fanship.  I view one of my greatest challenges as raising Portland Trailblazer fans in Los Angeles.  However, this is something different.  My kids have a vague clue of what I do to provide rudimentary food and shelter and I have dragged them on college tours since they were very little.  I mean, they are definitely living the dream.  What 8 year old doesn’t want to tour University of Southern Utah in the snow?  By the way, I highly recommend that tour.  It’s a fantastic, medium sized liberal arts school in a beautiful location.  They have great art programs, beautiful facilities, competitive athletics, and a world class Shakespeare festival.  I guess I digress….I’d like to think my ankle biters appreciate what their dad does, but that is probably wishful drinking, uh, thinking.

I guess it comes down to this, are you raising kids who simply know how to do school or are you raising learners?  I’m afraid that being a good student isn’t necessarily the same as being a good learner.  We equate jumping through hoops with knowing how to ask the right questions; questions that cut through the ancillary noise and get to heart of what matters. We have turned being a good student into a commodity and pushed being a good learner somewhere down the line behind getting “A’s”.  If your student is truly intellectually curious, it’s never too early to talk about the limitless ways in which they can join the conversation at one of our thousands of institutions of higher learning.  It’s never too early to discuss the process of a lifelong education, to battle entitlement, and to promote ownership of choices. I want my students to understand that process and effort will open doors and that success will not be defined by a name on a sweatshirt.  I love this job because I get to climb on this soap box on a regular basis.

And as for the WACAC pin?   Associations like WACAC are rare in that the stated mission of the group directly reflects the actions of the group.  I’m proud of this affiliation and as far as I’m concerned my daughter can continue to rock that WACAC pin.  Like a boss.

By Jeff Morrow

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