We all love our children and wish the best for them. Let’s not argue about that. Our choice of where to send our children to school has no bearing on whether or not we love our children. The important question is, what is the best thing for our children? How can we best help them? Although we all love our children, our answers to these questions are specific to individual families and are colored by the personal cultures of each parent.
These personal cultures deeply affect how we think about the world. It can be hard for us to question them. Hearing someone criticize (or even second-guess) our personal culture makes us defensive. This is normal. But it’s important to think about where your personal culture comes from. Are you acting with intention? Or do you believe what you believe just because you grew up with it and never questioned it?
Thinking about how you and your spouse parent, as partners, is the key to understanding where you should send your child to school. When you send your child to school each morning, you should know in your heart that what your child experiences at school is in line with how you parent. This protects your child’s brain from cognitive dissonance, that is, mixed messages about how to behave, what to think, and what to value.
As parents, we want to make sure our children experience a unified message from both parents. When that doesn’t happen, it can threaten the balance of the family and even the health of the marriage. Imagine a father telling his child that the most important thing in life is to be a cunning and strategic leader, while the mother says that life is about giving everything you have to the poor and not caring about material goods. Just as it is confusing and stressful to a child to receive mixed messages from each parent, it is confusing and stressful to hear one set of values at home, and a different set at school. Your parenting values have a direct link to your educational values. To protect your child from cognitive dissonance, your values must be mirrored by the school. Ultimately, this is why this conversation is important, because a brain that is experiencing cognitive dissonance learns very little, no matter what model of education it is in.
Educational choice is not just about the child, and it’s not just about the parents. It’s about your family as a whole. It’s about knowing and being confident in your values and extending them into your child’s education. What kind of family do you want to be? First ask yourself that question, and then ask which school will support you in that intention.