Martha, Risk Management & Compliance Consultant, Mother of 2.5, MN
Martha is a banking Risk Management & Compliance Consultant. She lives with her husband, John, and two kids (with a third on the way!), in MN. Martha was interviewed by her friend, Erin.
When you think of Nora and James when they’re grown up, what do you want for them?
I want them to be happy – it’s probably what everyone wants. I want them to be mentally and physically healthy and enjoying what they do and feeling like they’re contributing to something.
What do you think it takes to be happy?
I think it takes finding your place in a community. A lot of people who are unhappy are actually lonely, even if we don’t want to admit that. Maybe they don’t feel understood or like they have a community of people who understand them and like they have a place where they belong.
What do you think the role of school is in getting Nora and James there?
I don’t know exactly the role I expect school to play. After reading your friend’s interview saying “my daughter is going to spend more time with teachers than with me,” I got totally freaked out! I honestly haven’t thought that far ahead. When I started thinking about that I started to get a little more concerned.
I think there’s some fundamental education [in terms of content & skills] that needs to happen, but I also think school should be about supporting the kids in what they’re good at and not making them inadequate for what they’re not good at.
When I try to think about what should school really really do, I think, “what did I learn…?” Career-wise I think what’s helped me is learning proper grammar and spelling and communicating effectively. So I do hope schools help them to communicate effectively.
But in so far as being happy, I’m not sure what role school has in that other than making sure they’re not being bullied. And encouraging them in things that they are not only good at but also enjoy so the kids can take off from there.
How about for Nora specifically, rather than for all kids?
Ha, she’s funny. Right now, what I’m most concerned about is with relationships because there have been a couple of times when she comes back from the play spot and says, “the kids didn’t like me and didn’t want to play with me.” I know that’s just life, but I of course I don’t ever want to her to feel like that! Right now my focus would be about her learning to have relationships with kids that are positive. That’s partly because where she’s at – she’s so little and not even in preschool yet.
I think nurturing kids' imaginations is really important. I think of school in a specific way – mostly in the way that I experienced it. I think I had a good experience and I want them to experience that too. I remember in my elementary school the fifth graders would bake the ginger bread man and hide it and the first graders would have to go hunt for it. Those kinds of things – nurturing kids’ imagination! My elementary teachers were all really nurturing people.
Do you think school will do that for Nora?
I think it will, as far as elementary school goes– we’re in the same area I grew up in and I’ve already brought her to the schools for play times. They had some cool programs that we’ve participated in through the early childhood organization in the area. I think they can really draw things out in kids. Middle school and high school and college are just a different story.
How is middle school and beyond a different story?
I think kids start to go through different problems and schools don’t focus on that nurturing aspect anymore, it’s just books and stuff - and the after-school sports and activities.
More or less schools will do this for Nora, particularly for elementary school – and for all children?
I think schools that I’ve been to, or the ones I have familiarity with, I want to say they will do it for all children. But I don’t think every school in the country will. From the few teachers I’ve talked to, I think it’s getting harder to be a teacher… I don’t know why… Maybe parents put more pressure on the schools to be the ones who raise and nurture the kids? I don’t totally know what makes it difficult, but I know my mom, who taught for her entire career, and other friends I know who are teachers, feel like it's getting much harder. I don't think schools can succeed in supporting our kids in the best way without talented and dedicated people- who may be leaving the profession because they don't feel supported.
Do you think people agree with you about what makes a good life and the role of schools in getting there?
Yes, for the most part. I think most people want their kids to be happy and hope schools will play a role in supporting their kids’ happiness.
What do you remember about your education that was empowering?
When I think back on what I remember about my schooling, my focus keeps going back to the relationships, not necessarily the traditional educational aspect of what we think of when we thinks of schools. But relationships are probably the most important aspect of your life. That’s what is going to get you through life. It’s funny: You remember the nice and mean teachers, but not really what exactly you learned.