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School Supply Mentality

What do you splurge on? I mean really splurge on…Money is of little consequence for this one thing that has to be this brand or that brand, or done this way or that way? For me, it’s a haircut. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I can’t just “go to Great Clips” anymore. I have to be taken care of when I go get my haircut. I want it to be like an event, or a pampering if you will. So no longer do I get the $6.99 summer specials, but will easily spend $30 at a fancier place because I feel like this is my one shot to get pampered. Yes, I like to get pampered. I like to be carried around on a giant leather chair while they chant my name and I eat grapes off the vine (Which is a major choking hazard, by the way)…I think I have a taste for the royal life. But I suppose that comes naturally for us all.

What about your kids? Do they drink only organic, non-GMO, free-range apple juice? Do they get to play on travel teams for sports? How often do they get those toys that they just “have to have”? Don’t worry. I am not going to tell you how to parent. I know how much I suck at it and should never give advice about parenting to anybody. But I ran across a Facebook post the other day that got me thinking about the value we place on education versus other things.

Summed up, the post said this: A teacher was out school supply shopping…One set of parents she encountered were complaining about how much they were having to spend on the school supply list for their kids, the other was a dad who gave her a $25 gift card to help her with buying supplies for the classroom. It seemed to the teller of the story that the parents were setting two different types of examples about how to value education. I tend to agree with the writer and wish to reflect more on the sentiment.

I don’t know how much you spent last year on school supplies, but according to Time magazine, teachers spend on average $500 of their own money for their classrooms, with 1 in 10 spending at least $1000. I would say over the course of the year, that would be fairly accurate, especially in poorer schools where you tend to have to buy more of the stuff yourself. So we definitely carry our share of the load, plus as aptly described in this short video, we take their kids off of their hands for a few hours, so we need all the help we can get.

But it seems to me that as we get ready for back to school shopping (I know, kill me right?), I find myself thinking about the students that are going to have those varying messages at home. Don’t me wrong, I am not saying parents that don’t have oodles and oodles of money to provide their students with the supplies they need for class are lazy and don’t care about education. I believe in circumstances that don’t allow us to put our best foot forward financially. But if parents sit down and have a conversation with those kids about why they can’t afford to buy six different three-ring binders, the 96 pack of crayons with the crayon sharpener built-in to it, a glue gun, a Ti800 calculator, a circular saw, and 52 individually wrapped one-shots of Jack Daniels Honey…. and show them in other ways that they value education- like showing up at conferences, going to school events, sending a canned food in for the backpack program- then there is nothing to worry about with what is modeled at home when it comes to education.

What I worry about a lot as a teacher is not having support, especially not having support from parents. It’s hard to discipline a student in class (or even development a strong relationship with) who has a home which doesn’t value education. I have been warned by the administration before a school year started that I just shouldn’t contact a certain student’s parent unless I want a huge fight, because they had openly told them how useless they believed the school was for their child. What do you even do with that?! No really, I am asking because I have no clue. It’s hard to answer the question, ‘How will this help me in life?’ when at home it’s being reinforced that what happens 8 hours a day in your classroom doesn’t matter in their life and never will.

I think you just have to take it upon yourself to care about that student and show them the efficacy of what this could do for them. Does that mean I am going to field calls like “What kind of stuff are you putting in my kids head?” I hope so. I hope it does. If it does, I hope it ends just like the little owl who could sing. I wanna singa about the college and the careera, I wanna singa. Why? Because I love to sing and I hope you will too.

Best Wishes,

Seth Tripp