There is always a debate. Why private school? What do you have against traditional schools? How is it different? What happens to those kids in your class later in life? I have fielded so many of these questions over the course of my teaching career. It may surprise you to know that I never get tired of this discussion. Everyone has a choice in this world, parents and children should have a choice in their education. It is not alternative education, it is simply education. But that is another debate entirely.
It all starts with one question and that is "How did you like your education, do you remember being excited about going to school and learning?" Most of the time the answer is a resounding "Not really, but I did well." It's simple, children should love learning, they will grow into adults that enjoy learning. If you were one of the "ones" that did well then congratulations. I was not one of the "ones" that did well. My grades were not too bad, slightly average I guess. Who wants to know that they are average? Average is not something people usually strive for, at any age.
Thankfully I had a terrific support system. My parents worked with me, they realized that it was difficult for me and they supported me. To this day, my mother swears that if I were in school today I would be put on some form of medication. In high school I had teachers that went out of their way to make an impression on me and it worked but that is not always the case.
When it came time for me to choose a career path I knew that if I taught in a traditional school I would be miserable. I did not really love it as a child, why would I enjoy it as an adult? I don't make as much money which is a challenge, but I do love my career and when I return from summer work (notice I did not say summer vacation. I don't know many teachers that "vacation" in the summer) I look forward to school and so do the children.
The second reason for choosing to work in a progressive school goes way back to a student teaching experience. I was teaching in a kindergarten class at the time. One of the girls arrived at school and was in tears. As anyone would do, I went over to comfort her. That is what adults are supposed to do for children. When they get cut, we give them a band-aid, when they are happy we celebrate with them and when they are sad we comfort them, regardless of gender. The girl told me that she would like me to read her a book. I sat in the rocking chair, put her in my lap and I started reading her a book. Halfway through the book, her tears were dry and she was ready to start her day. As this was happening the principal happened to walk by the classroom and peeked in. During my lunch break I was called to talk to the principal. I thought to myself, here we go again; I am in college and I am still being called to the principals office.
The principal asked "What were you doing with that girl in your lap?" The question took me by surprise, "I was reading her a book." I said.
"Well, you can't have her in your lap, that is dangerous territory." And that was the end of the discussion.
A simple act of kindness was being scrutinized. I was shocked and enlightened.