Laura, Artist & Librarian, Mother of 2, WI
Laura is an artist and passionate middle school librarian. She lives with her two daughters and her husband, Todd, in WI. Laura was interviewed by her aunt, Linda.
Tell me about a child or children you care about and what makes them unique.
I have two daughters one is age 11 the other is 14 and they are both unique. The younger daughter, Kaia, who is 11, is an extremely gifted artist. Taryn is 14 she enjoys dancing and designing. Both of them are wonderful individuals. Taryn is outgoing and Kaia is very shy. They both bring a lot to our family.
What do you think makes a good or successful life?
I think part of good or successful life is finding that balance between what you do for a living and what you do for yourself or your family as well. I want them to find passion in the career they choose but also in the things that they do on their own time. I think the career part of that; it’s not just about passion of what you do for yourself but also what you’re doing for the greater good. You want them to balance that with what they can do to enjoy life everyday day as well with family, with friends just to fill themselves personally.
What are they passionate about right now?
Taryn is 14, entering high school, she’s extremely passionate about dance but what’s interesting she already sees that she loves dancing but it’s not a career goal for her. Entering high school they do start to look at their passions as possibly an inroad to what she might do with her life. She’s already showing a passion for design. It’s fascinating to watch that develop because she loves to go online and design entire houses. She does it because it’s fun. If it’s not the career she chooses, I think she’s ok with that and we’re ok with that. It’s part of what she’s passionate about right now. She’s very passionate about her friendships she has very dear friends and they are important to her as well. As a 14 year old you can really see who she is becoming.
Kaia, as an 11 year old is very passionate about her artwork, but she does it in a really quiet way. She creates volumes of stuff and she just gets in her own world. She can have an entire room and a mess of supplies around her. Her end goal is to share that artwork with friends and family. Family is very important to her as well. She’s recently, in the past couple years, developed a passion for soccer, which for a kid who’s tried lots of things it’s kind of exciting to see her settle in to something that suits her. Her other passion is nature. She’s always been a kid who, as much as she loves her video games, she loves to spend her time outdoors. Even though she hasn’t…well she has articulated a passion for possibly working at a zoo as the only career going forward. But something either in art or nature is definitely where that child will end up.
What is the role of school in achieving that good life?
I think it’s natural for us to think about schooling as that road to a career. I think that’s very traditional and I think that’s a part of it but I think the other part is nurturing some of those passions in ways that kids might not have envisioned for themselves or their parents might not have envisioned for them. The k through 12 school system doesn’t necessarily have a track for every career or every passion but giving kids the room and the creativity to discover possibly how their passions work together or even just figuring out what they are good at or nurturing the areas that maybe they aren’t as strong in so that they can combine those skills. I think schooling needs to look at the whole child in a way that gives them all the tools they need not just for those careers but also just developing as a member of society and as an individual.
Will schools play this role for your daughters?
I think for my children schools do and will continue to play a significant role in that. I think they have good mentors in the schools that they are in and that they will continue through. I think that our school system has a good plan for nurturing that career path. I don’t think our schools have all the answers right now and I do think my children are somewhat privileged, in that they are children of educators who also want to nurture the whole child at home. I know they have advantages. I think schools play a role but I think they don’t complete the whole picture.
Do you think schools will play that role for all children?
To add to what I said for the last question, I think that schools need to continue to try to fill that gap but I don’t think they can do it alone. I think it has to be a community effort, which includes helping parents and community members play that role for all children. I think if we’re going to attend to the whole child including their needs and their passions and the gaps in their lives we’ve got to include other community organizations because for some children its the basic needs they don’t have. They can’t even attend what they are passionate about because they are worried about other things. I can hope for a future where schools are an essential part of that. I know they play it the best they can with the resources they have currently.
Do you think other people agree with you?
I think a lot of people agree with what a good life is for their kids. We want our children to be well rounded; we want to see them in successful careers but we don’t want that to be the focal point of their lives. As far as the role of schools in getting there, I think there is probably a lot of disagreement on that. I think some people see it as only getting them to college or getting them to a career or to a job. Others feel that the school should be the sole provider for all children’s needs. I don’t think either of those extremes is the right answer. Whether schools will do that for all of our children I guess that kind of depends on which of the perspectives they fall under in the previous question.
Tell me about empowering educational experiences you've had.
I think one thing I can point to is knowing that a particular teacher or educator is a mentor for you. They are looking at who you are as a whole person as seeing you succeed for the future. I think of one particular high school teacher that really-he was my drama teacher and my English teacher and it’s not something I went into and he really empowered me because he knew who I was as a person too. The other empowering experience is being a lifelong learner. Having gone back to school multiple times, you know that learning has no end and that’s something I didn’t say earlier but I definitely wish for my kids; not that they get their high school diploma or their first degree and are done. It doesn’t always have to be formal I think the other empowering thing is realizing that learning is open to you in any way at any stage whether teaching yourself something or learning from a colleague or a friend. It’s very empowering when you realize that.