January 25, 2021

One of the adjustments parents have been forced to make over the last year is to participate in schooling their children.  Parental engagement has always been a critical aspect to student achievement, as much as class size, curriculum, and teacher quality.  That is especially true over the last year as parents have been pressed into service by the sporadic nature of school openings and closings.  Many schools and students have been able to continue to attend class virtually, but this has not been as seamless as it might have been.   Our country is plagued by uneven band widths and differential levels of technology.  This is especially true in rural areas and among the poor.  These are also the students who often require extra help.

When I looked online, I read about the schools created for the Ninja (or Shinobi) in medieval Japan.  These students were the specialized assassins, saboteurs, and secret agents of the country.  Warriors were highly trained proponents of the martial arts, especially what later became known as ninjutsu or ‘the art of the ninja’.  This included special schools for training in disguise, deception, and assaulting enemy positions and strongholds.  Their missions usually took place at night and were augmented by their traditional dark clothing.  Ninjas have been employed since the 15th century CE onwards.  The secret of the ninjas was their lengthy secret training in specialized schools and mysterious anonymity.  This has led to an exaggerated reputation for fantastic feats and weapons play.  This makes them the perfect characters for comic books and computer games.

With many teachers relegated to computer screens, parents have taken on the role of teacher’s aide, hall monitor, counselor, and cafeteria worker.  These roles are often added to preforming their own jobs at the same time.  This has created extraordinary stress for students and parents alike.  Essential workers (read, the poor and most vulnerable) are often in the toughest spot, especially if they are away from home during school hours.  These leaves a single parent, or no one at all, at home when students need them most.  Once more our essential workers face untenable choices.

Thoughts:  I saw an Instagram post about our granddaughter yesterday that gave me hope.  She (5 years old) and her brother (3 years old) were drawing Ninjas for their daily project with mom.  Each of their Ninjas’ had a special power.  Lauren’s Ninja power was “Love.”  The Ninja had a club in one hand (with hearts on top) and a large heart in the other.  One of the things she knew was that the most powerful thing on earth is the love we have for others, and this love is what is needed right now.  This is a realization that can escape us as adults.  Perhaps we need to quit trying to rationalize and to blame each other and instead look at the world through the eyes of a child.  We could all use the special power of love.  Do the work.  Change is coming and it starts with you.

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