Appearance over substance?

Written by on February 28, 2007 in Conversations on the Healing Journey with 0 Comments

I just spent a wonderful day homeschooling my daughter, although it’s gotten to the point where I don’t even think about it in that way anymore. Yes, I do make sure we do lessons on certain subjects. You have to. It’s not just a matter of taking her to the library once or twice a month, and then calling that “teaching her reading”. It’s about taking the time to build a strong phonic foundation, but it’s more.

I love sharing my passion for reading with her. I love to read short stories and picture stories and classical literature to her. We go over poetry together, and recite those we love best. Often now, she likes to follow along with me, and if we come to a lyrical phrase, she’ll read out loud with me.

And then there are books she reads herself. Not her favorite thing to do yet, so I let her ride along on my own passion. Reading for us has become a shared experience.

Then there’s math, which has become a fun game with the RightStart Math program we just started using, courtesy of her grandmother’s and my investment. We had gone through two other programs, both highly recommended, but though my little girl was memorizing answers and getting the right ones down, it became clear to me that she wasn’t understanding the quantity or place values.

Which brings me to the point of this post.

Sometimes, appearances become more important to us than the reality. Like the parent who drills their kid in flash cards or makes them work through long workbooks or other learning aids, so they get the right answers but not stopping to see if they’re really understanding the concept.

It’s the “study for the test” syndrome that too many of us suffer from and then impose upon our children.

But what are we really teaching them? Appearance over substance? Performance over knowledge?

Perhaps we’re looking for praise – “Oh what a smart kid you have/good parent you are!”

Perhaps we really think we’re doing what’s best for our kid to beat the system, or at least not get run over by it.

But when we substitute show for authenticity, there is a greater loss than simply understanding a concept. We lose the joy of real accomplishment and the security that comes from authentic success. Because with appearances, no matter how convincing to others, we, ourselves, know we haven’t really gotten it.

One day, we’ll be asked to make change. And we will come up short.

About the Author

About the Author: Demian Yumei, author, singer/songwriter and artist activist, using spoken, written word and original songs in her human rights activism. Demian is a traveler on the healing journey with a lifelong love affair with the creative process. .


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