As I travelled, privileged to visit so many places, the question of private vs public was buzzing in my mind. The question, ‘Which is better?’ is asked over again, particularly by the media and by well-meaning parents that gather in parks across the nation. I was asking myself a different question though, ‘Does it matter?’.
I have spent close to 28 years in the Catholic systemic system as both a student, a parent and a teacher. I have also taught in public and private schools at various times for short blocks. I am not anti-public; or anti-private; nor am I pro-Catholic. So why have I spent so much time in the Catholic system? It is what I know best and where I feel the most comfortable. I have friends that teach in public schools that are the most comfortable in their system and likewise friends in the private system who feel the same. So why can’t we be comfortable with each other feeling comfortable? Why do some teachers need to have a go at others for having more or less money? For going to Church once a week or not having clear cut ‘values’? For working with the disadvantage in our society or the advantaged? Surely, we all have the same goal - To educate and create the best leaders we can to move our world forward, regardless of their socio-economic status.
Likewise as a parent I make my decisions based on where my children are going to feel the most comfortable - where we as a family are going to feel the most ‘at home’ within a community. For some this would be in the private system, for others the public, and for my family our home is in the Catholic system. Why would I send my child somewhere I didn’t understand or connect with? Why would I criticise others for doing the same even if it meant their choice was different to mine? I want my children to be joyful wherever they go to school. That is my only priority - love school and love learning. This may mean a different school for my kid then it does for your kid and that’s ok.
So, back to my question - “Does it matter?”
The only thing that matters is where you feel comfortable.
Do you want to know why?
Because it only takes one.
It only takes one teacher to change a students life.
It only takes one teacher to make a difference.
It only takes one teacher to build your child’s confidence or ruin it.
It only takes one leader to change the culture of a school.
It only takes one child to befriend yours for life or make them feel worthless.
It only takes one and that one could be in any of the schools in the country.
There are good teachers in private schools, public schools and Catholic systemic schools.
There are bad teachers in these schools too.
There are great leaders in each of these systems, and also weak, spineless ones.
There are beautiful and not-so beautiful kids in each and every school I have stepped into.
All have different strengths and different challenges, but each school has them both.
So does it matter? No I don’t believe it does.
Money and buildings don’t make great schools and lack of money or buildings don’t make terrible ones.
Only people do.
And it only takes one.