This is to all who understand that life is a journey and that to us as parents and educators, we must cooperate with each other when we recognize the defects—be it physical or behavioral—that plague our children and institutions. This was born out of recognizing that the unease my own child displayed while attending school led me to search for answers wherever they were. I recognized there was a problem, I was concerned, I was inspired by her efforts, and I was encouraged to do something. I took action by attending Teachers College in order to get the hands on experience of teaching and learning so that I could help not only my child but a system that caters to all children. The unease was the root of a problem that stimulated the response that turned into an educational “tree” journey, thanks to my daughter Karla.
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About the Author
I have been through many of lifes challenges which provided the life-long learning that helped to propel me to the level where my dreams, anticipation, aspirations, and self- expectations, have been realized as lifes challenges removed the shadow that masked self-doubts and limitations. This perpetuated the indomitable mission:-destined for the highest and the determination to reach others with the aim of helping to bring out the best in those lives that I am honored to touch.
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The Eye Opener
I stopped in my tracks when I was summoned on numerous occasions to the school that my child attended back then; "This is to too much, I reckoned to myself, too many times, enough is just enough." I was bombarded by calls from the principal of the school that my child was sometimes uncooperative and a bit unsettled, I knew something was off and I braved the fears that were so obvious but confusing. I applied the brakes on my conceivable independence and everything I had my hands on came to a halt. It was then that my focus was diverted to a different direction from the normal course in my life at that time.
I had a gut feeling that something was building up but could not conceive a root in the making that would open a whole new world in the lives of many; from a single root. All cares were cast on nurturing an inconceivable root. A root, that festered from the experience of a child's educational pathway. A pathway that totally meandered like tributaries moving towards the sea to end its course, so did my child's challenge form this root that totally meandered into the tree that was never imagined. The course of a parent's future had generated. The complaints from my daughter's school became more and more frequent, it was likened to a canto; the experience became my chapter and had to be told.
Numerous school visits were made to see how best I could manage the capricious encounters that hammered more and more on my conscience to act. Little did I know, that I was meritoriously positioned for my academic take-off and moreover; would endeavor to arrest the obvious of an educational height that would also allow for the tale of an educational journey. Many apologies were constant and consistent as I genuinely gave to all those persons who were exposed to this misunderstanding- innocent plea from a child. A child who was an above average child and one who just needed someone to understand her academic plight which clandestinely triggered: Numerous hands-off attitudes from adults, fellow students, and even siblings simultaneously.
The writing was on the wall only I could not see it. The struggles of an innocent child who had to live an academic life in a stultified academic atmosphere. It is a fact, that schools must have their restrictions, however; restrictions should include considerations commensurate to: Age, ability, time, and place. Even with restrictions; a child should not be a miss-fit but a 'jolly – holly' addition to the classroom fitted with teachers and students and not to be in abeyance to defeat the purpose of active participation. Naturally so, when everything seems fine and one child continues to show discomfort: - concerns are raised. It was in the case of my child who was unable to explain her discomfort but, she expressed it! The best way she could; with very little understanding from those who were in charge and who were expected to mold her young mind.
Careful consideration was not given, by any means, to analyze what was going on in the academic life of this child. It was just not clear why a perfect school system could not see through a child with so little enthusiasm even though whatever restrictive routine there was; it applied to all. To that, 'and I speak loud and clear! No challenges to the system, no disrespect to anyone, no not an iota, and no blame on any rules. The challenge was a child's discomfort and bears no blame on an institution. I struggled with the rhetorical syndrome; answers! Yes, but only to my demise because they never made a difference, the child was the same-frustrated.
I continued to struggle with being patient, undergirded with the struggles of a child who felt the brunt of an 'Adult Misunderstanding Syndrome' (A-M S) i.e., no adult understood the overt rebellion of this child. Vice versa, an adult who felt the brunt of 'Child-Misunderstanding Syndrome' (C-M S) i.e., the child in the same vain could not understand the adults' uncompromised position. As adults, parent and teachers we refused to compromise our authority and to be subjected to the behavior that was far from silent and unnoticed. For this reason, we were grossly misunderstood by this child and so too we were grossly misunderstood the child.
It took me a few years, to recognize that the delicate 'root' was created and silently nourished as the concerns were never aborted by this misunderstanding rhetoric: - 'Adult-Misunderstanding Syndrome' and the 'Child-Misunderstanding Syndrome'. The constant capricious encounter with my child, catapulted the root of a doctoral journey that timely grew and transitioned through the timely search for answers to an innocent plea from a child. A gut feeling challenged my dear to do nothing about the obvious. Rightly so, I was overwhelmed. I acted out of deep concern for the inevitable.
The imaginable path to finding that behavioral resolve remained grounded in my heart to act and as fate would have it; obscurity was not encouraged, it was not used as an excuse to ignore the nurturing of this tree. This to me, would be enlightened to one who would very well say, 'ignorance of the law gives you the right to commit an offence and punishment consequently', would be an injustice.
I took a very clear and definitive path to nourishing the tree without realizing what the outcome would be. I had no thought and more bluntly! I never tried to understand what it would take for me to find the answers that I needed to alleviate the challenges that I, my child and even the very teachers who thought that she was just a difficult and sometimes defiant student. I started seeking clarifications, opinions, perceptions, advice, incessantly trying to fill a gap which by my own volition was a need and not a choice. The intensity of my search for answers went vertical and horizontal. From the trenchant precipitous brilliance of those who serve as educators, doctors, pastors, psychologists, and those who served as caregivers, friends, relatives and simply those on the periphery of both directions.
My aim was in a bid to find the best answers and to address the plea of my child, I opted for professional advice in earnest as my concerns were many. It was then; I recognized getting to the core of this situation for me, just did not seem like a simple task. As an adult, I misunderstood the reason for the behavior. ... So! I constantly tried to change the child's behavior and so did the school. The more I tried the more miniscule the corporation seemed and defiance more noticeable. This attitude surely had a rippling effect as it spilled over into the school environment more and more. I recognized that my understanding of what the child felt was an adult misunderstanding situation. This I considered to myself an Adult-Misunderstanding situation which I, in my own terms considered it a Syndrome; it was a (my) symptom of misunderstanding.
I interpreted this to be an Adult-Misunderstanding Syndrome (A-M S). On the other end of the continuum, the Child-Misunderstanding symptoms I also attributed to the attitude as a symptom of misunderstanding an adult reaction to a situation.
My daughter's syndrome was a misunderstanding of both her mother's reaction and her teacher's reaction toward her. This (C-M S) created the 'Root' and drastic action was the growth of the tree. Challenges had already formed the root and it was one that required the understanding of two syndromes that needed academic ground work /academic search and truth to be told; in a nutshell, was way out of my league and understanding of moving forward.
It seemed quite untenable back then going through the days of the week, as a routine with an innocent child totally dissatisfied and uncompromising as she would tread aimlessly behind me toward the school gate. The unease and the not so sure attitude crept right into the classroom. The misunderstanding of the child's action was like a border between us as adults and the child and evidently went off track and invariably added to the child's frustration. At the same time, can you imagine what the most obvious thoughts were-going through the child's brain? "Why! Can't they understand that I am un happy"
The journey began when I realized that enough was really enough. I looked at both scenarios and I recognized that there was so much festering with the challenge of two self-acclaimed syndromes (i.e.) my own interpretation: Adult-Misunderstanding Syndrome (A-M S) and Child-Misunderstanding Syndrome C-M S). My educational journey was put to the test as it started from the root that was 'meant- to- be', however; I was totally oblivious to the fact that my daughter's attitude toward school and my reaction toward the situation would create a scenario that formed the root of my educational journey. The two syndromes encapsulated the kind of unrealistic dream, a trial and error pathway "call it what you may." It is interesting to note that I graduated high school with a piece of paper that showed that I attended high school. Beat that! I ventured into a field that never needed much of an educational armor. I chose cosmetology after I graduated high school and thought it was the end of my journey.
My first school after high school was Leons School of Beauty Culture. The teachers at Leons, they were some of the best and Leons, it was the number one school of cosmetology at that time. The teachers? Man! they knew how to disseminate information from the arts and the sciences; which were pertinent to the knowledge that was necessary - for their students to be the best cosmetology professionals. 'A darn good cosmetologist I was too'. With all the skills, I developed; I created a path that was well represented as I worked with the famous and not so famous clients. I was able to hold my own as an entrepreneur back in the day- that is. Life in the field of cosmetology unfolded like the sunflower opening to the days' sun rise in the sky. Oh, how I flourished and yet, in all the splendor of cosmetology I ventured into real estate, car rental and shuttle services. I was in business for the long haul; "at least so I thought".
My focus was financial stability but through it all I considered my options. The time of my life crept on, and on, and on as a business person with no sense of education transformation at any time and at any cost. I realized that with no academic proof of any kind there was the need to do something; however small. I could not boast on being a high school graduate with nothing to show for the years, so, I took it seriously and even though I was vacillating and my thought process in a chatoyant mode changing like the reflection of bright sun on and off a piece of metal, I went on to making a conscientious move. I registered at a prominent high school in my home town; to join their evening class program where students are being prepared for advance exams which are prerequisites for colleges. Ha! Sounds very strange? Yes, maybe so, I mastered my exams and again told myself I was satisfied with just the strip of paper as proof that I sat the exams and the certificates for my exam passes. I felt a sense of satisfaction and had no intensions of going any further. As time progressed and I lived my life the best way I could at that moment, something else was taking root. Something that had me bound in distress sometimes annoyance, confusion, and the whys' never stop confronting me. I tried to ignore what confronted me but the root held firm and the tree kept growing, virtually impossible to ignore.
My first taste of higher education
Reluctantly, and by virtue of sublimation I picked up my pen and in all consciousness; yet! With doubt hovering over my desire and great ambition to clear the air; I prepared an application for that solemn search. The search to get a better understanding of whom and what constitutes the process of teaching and learning.
The silent plea of a learner must be heard and addressed somewhere! Somehow. I thought why this should be any other but me.
Questions that stirred my thoughts were:
What are the aims and objectives of the learning institution?
what is the cause of a child's unconventional behavior towards school and those who are there to mold her and the other learners?
How is fear identified over plain old reluctance?
Who is responsible for what and why?
What motivates learning and how are these principles applied?
What is our responsibility to the learner?
It was also necessary for me to understand what the responsibility of the child was. What is the responsibility of the learner and not just my child?
My questions were numerous and my aim was to bifurcate both syndromes obviously, it was one against the other. I knew somehow that there was a difference between the understanding and concerns of the child and the understanding and similarly concerns of the school. I was fully aware that the challenge was twofold. Even in the midst of deep thinking and searching for the right channel to steer my thoughts I was more confused than I was unconfused.
The silent educational anthesis
The journey began in my head and mushroomed as I put my thoughts together. I decided that something had to be done about my child's wellbeing and maybe for others who have or may deem the same fate as I had. Although I had questions before I mailed my college application I felt relieved that I made an attempt to do something that would make a difference if I succeeded. For some strange reason, I had no doubt that I was on the right track; I felt a wave of relief and at no time felt defeated. You know why? I could not even think otherwise because of my desperation for a solution to the challenge that I had. All I could see was an answer for the child's sake and all who were involved.
I completed my application and I mailed it, yes! I did. My challenges though they seemed insurmountable then – I thought even more, and more about the answers that I needed than the question about the; awh-ha! "College," moment. I asked myself numerous times. 'Am I really serious about teachers' college?' I was quite frantic about the brilliant idea; I must say - but then, I was on a mission. I anxiously awaited a response from the college week one ... no response, week two. ... no response, week three. ... no response. My anxiety faded as I thought less and less about the idea of going to college being a mother of four.
A few weeks had passed and I put the thought of college behind me. Still pondering over my decisions, and the challenges at hand questions continued to surface. One of which was how to meet the need of a child laboring with the dreaded school blues which was obvious. I tried my best to understand what my child and I were up against and amidst trying to fathom the best way forward, I knew something had to give.
I exercised my patience and did the obvious which was to wait. I prayed, and asked the LORD to guide me through it all. My revelation was the Psalms. "I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined unto me and heard my cry" (Psalms 40).
I received a letter from the college just when I was settled in my heart that the way forward was in the reply to the application I had sent. I repeated in the silence of my own heart, 'Lord whatever the response is I will be satisfied'. My stentorian response drew the attention of those who were standing by me. The mettle was at hand. With the letter in my possession I looked up and I just whispered a few words which were 'this is it my Lord'. I anxiously opened the envelop and timely read, Yes! I shouted and the rest can be imagined. A momentous journey has begun.
Dear applicant: Please be advised that your application for the secondary education program has been approved. ... The date for your interview is. ... That was enough for me.
The first unexpected chapter started in my life when this grandiloquent notice hit my eyes, I was flabbergasted. That was the first evidence of the tree steadily moving from its root. Little did I know that the discomfort of my own child's school experience had secured a root that would grow into a tree that I had to prepare myself to secure and nourish as it grew. Upon recognizing that the search for answers were on the horizon; reflections of the growth of my educational journey flashed across my mind's eyes many times over, I carefully and secretly made the necessary preparations to secure my place in earnest- pursuit of this venture. My greatly appreciated acceptance to teachers' college sure was an anchor which my memoir will reveal. I immediately promised myself that I would Spear no stops in preparation for this unexpected and coveted opportunity.
I carefully went through the list that was prepared for me as a new student and smiled as I breathed deeply in and out and with every breath that I took in and let out - I whispered, "Thank you Lord, thank you Lord". I broke the news and every family member were in a state of shock.
No one knew I made that move. The secret of it all was a matter of choice as my family both immediate and extended would have thought that I was at a different level of crazy. With that said; lucky for me, I was at that level of crazy. The night had fallen and I retired to bed. No questions asked, no comments made; which was to my surprise. Why this was so, no one took me serious. However, I told my daughter who was responsible for my teachers' college decision that I was intent on nurturing the root she had created. I assured her that she would see and enjoy the benefit from the growth as answers I would surely find. Too young to understand what I meant, but! She was the initiator and I forged ahead because I wanted to help my child who unknowingly by her unease literally forced the effort that I mustered to have taken the bold step.
Excerpted from "Hold On To Your Tree: How It Started"
Copyright © 2017 Claudia Elaine Kellier.
Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
About the Author, xv,
The Eye Opener, 1,
The Journey, 8,
My first taste of higher education, 11,
The silent educational anthesis, 13,
The Message, 15,
Preparation for Teachers College, 19,
Moments of Change, 32,
Act of Charity, 34,
Second Year, 37,
My Third Year, 47,
The Journey after Graduation, 55,
The second phase of my journey, 57,
Third Voyage, 69,
A great wish, 76,
Voyage Four, 79,
The Real Challenge, 83,
Who is Claudia E. Kellier, 95,
Author's Mission:, 97,
Author's Vision:, 98,