4 min

“I think education is power. I think that being able to communicate with people is power. One of my main goals on this planet is to encourage people to empower themselves.”

~ Oprah Winfrey

by Wendy Hirsh Weiner, Ed.D.
Guest Column for FatherhoodChannel.com

Wendy Hirsh Weiner, Ed.D.
Wendy Hirsh Weiner

As 2011 begins and children head back to school, parents all over the country have meaningful hopes and dreams for their youngsters.

What are some of the dreams we share in common? As parents, we want the best education for our children, but what does “best” actually mean? For many, school has become about being stressed over standardized exams, memorizing dates and names related to famous military campaigns, and constantly preparing for tests.

It’s difficult to imagine that when we first cradled our newborn children, our dream was that they’d grow up to become good at filling in bubbles on standardized exams.

At the turn of the 20th century, when hundreds of thousands of immigrants were arriving from Europe, America needed factory workers and new immigrants needed jobs. Schools were designed to train the future workforce and new Americans were eager to make a life in this new world.

A century later, society’s needs have changed. We are no longer seeking an education for our children to prepare them for factories or manual assembly lines. The demands of the global economy and the specific challenges to American prosperity require a new approach to prepare our children for success.

The ability to imagine, create, and inspire requires individuals who are balanced, have high self-esteem, able to problem solve, work independently and within teams, and utilize their unique strengths to find purpose in their careers. Unfortunately, curriculum and teaching has changed very little. We are still preparing our students for a workforce and life that no longer exists.

The American school system often compares itself and aims to compete with the success of schools in Europe and Asia. What is their secret? More testing and homework? Hardly.

The secret of their success lies in the education of the entire person through physical movement and the arts. Learning through painting, drama and music enhances creativity and encourages each student to problem solve and think “outside the box.” Classes in the martial arts and movement bring grounding and a sense of balance. Physical movement gives an outlet to reduce stress and gain confidence. By giving our children physical and creative outlets, they are able to achieve emotional balance, focus and excel in their academics and beyond.

Dr. Wendy Hirsch Weiner is the founder and principal of Conservatory Prep Senior High in Davie, Florida. She can be reached through the website at www.conservatoryprep.org or by phone (954) 680-5808.