Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Cultural Knowledge

As a homeschooling parent, I have had pause to think about what makes someone educated.I have often wondered how I can compare my children’s knowledge with public schoolers.Unfortunately, sometimes the knowledge base is so different it is impossible to compare.Now with DS2 who has been in and out of the foster system for his entire 11 year life, I am thinking of cultural knowledge in an entirely different way.DS2 is a very smart boy.He tests as average, above average, or superior on all cognitive testing, but his cultural knowledge is almost a zero.This assessment is not an official test, but just a general review of his ability to discuss current events, geography, history, etc. As such, his understanding of the world around him is inhibited. He has no understanding of voting or political parties.He doesn’t understand that other people in the world live very differently than we do.He has no interest in learning / knowing about creatures and cultures that have come before us.He is satisfied with junk food mindless tv and rap music.He will comply with learning in school, but sees no correlation to what he is learning and his life.He has no goals for his future. I think that his life has been so set on survival, interest and knowledge seeking has had no place in his life. It is like a microcosmic Dark Age. He is finding our home to be so strange. He finds the unique knowledge that my kids have to be fascinating. He is somewhat troubled that his cartoon crammed days are now limited, but we are starting to see a little change in the way he thinks. It is like watching someone light a fire. We are hitting the flint with steel and creating a spark, now we just have to see if the flame can ignite the kindling and support a fire that will burn for the rest of his life.

While I work on this issue on an individual basis, I think that it is imperative that we look at this issue on a more global basis. What will a child like this become without a nurturing home? What will the affect be on society? What is the later cost vs the costs we may expend earlier on? How do you encourage cultural knowledge when a child can’t rely on their most basic needs being met? What does it say about a country that cannot properly care for those that most need its care? How can we improve the system? How can we prevent another child from being so starved?

1 comment:

Andy's Bethy said...

We went to the introductory meeting for DFCS last week. I was impressed by the amount of people who were there. I think that was a good sign.
Andy was very frustrated because all of the paperwork we have already done, the courses we already took in order to be approved to adopt internationally, count for NOTHING with DFCS. It seems such a waste of the time we have already spent.
I don't know where God is taking us next, but I know there is huge need all around us. I am so willing to help. Why is it so much work to be recognized as someone willing to help!!!
As for the ideas you have pointed out - I think you are correct in the idea that survival takes priority, and so often children in extreme situations only learn what is required of them. The problem is that when they turn 18, suddenly they are "adults" and are expected to know lots of other things... and they were never taught them. Being AF, we have friends from all over. One couple grew up in Foster care - got married at 16 and 18, because they were dating, and one was about to get transferred out of the county and they weren't going to be able to see each other any more. Not sure how they got approved for that, or how they have managed to stay married through three kids and almost 8 years, but they have. But they had a LOT to learn about life. The understood the hard knocks part of it, but not some of the mechanics of living it.
Keep posting... I want to hear what you learn, so I can put it to use. Thanks!