alright, i'm not even going to try to hide the fact that this is likely going to be a bit of a rant. it is not going to be in favor of public school, because i am generally not in favor of public school. if you think you will be offended by what i am about to type, stop reading, or choose to not be offended. this is my space, one of the few places i can hope to say what it is i think and feel. so there. continue reading at your own choice....
i am inspired to write this in this fine september morning because for the last week or so, i am encountering so many children who do not want to return to school. they are whining about it, they are bummed about it, they are complaining. they are acting out. they are trying to live up the last week of freedom they will get until winter break. and the adults involved seem to be immune to the whining, and complaining of these kids. WHY? why do the adults involved not give a crap that their children do not want to return to school?
is it because they themselves went to school? therefore it is tradition? is it because they figure its what is best for the kid?
is it that the child couldn't possibly have an aversion to being a part of something that they know instinctively is damaging a basic, integral part of who they are? think about that for a minute. is it possible that school is bad for them, and they know it?
is it that many parents have never thought about this? have never questioned this normal, accepted institute? is it because they dont see any other options? is it because they fear their child would get "behind"?
is it that life is set up for parents to need to work, long hours away from home, and so another option seems impossible? ok, lets face it. part of the purpose of school is to babysit our children while we are at work. it has nothing to do with them LEARNING.
it has everything to do with the way the system is set up. and the majority of people buy into it. this concept that at a certain age you are obligated to leave your family everyday, whether you want to or not. you will be sent to a building to spend ALL of you time as the teacher you have been assigned instructs you. for 13 years every child is expected to just accept this. that they will get a total of about 12 weeks PER YEAR to spend with their families, who love them, and the rest of the time they will have to spend with a randomly selected teacher. and as if that is not bad enough, they will also be expected to take the teachers instructions home with them and complete homework. not even their time at home is theirs, the school even steals that time.
be the child for a moment. this teacher gets to know you for a year or two at best. this teacher is teaching to pay their bills. this teacher may love children. but this teacher does not personally know you, they are not personally invested in your future or the person you will become. they did not bring you into this world. they do not personally love you. this is the person that you will be spending the better part of the year obeying. trying to impress so that you will bring home a good grade. OH, and good grades will be expected in every subject!! nevermind that some subjects bore you, or that you have natural talents and interest that you would love to have the time and support to grow and explore!! you will spend your time in whatever way this institution deems in your best interest, because you are a child; and evidently that means you dont have the right to free time.
can you think of any other institution on earth that people must go to against their own will? where they are expected to obey strangers? where every moment is planned and decided upon for them? how about prison? is prison close to fitting that description? and after a sentence of 13 years, for being a child, you will be free.
ok, i get that a lot of society feels that school is training for work. i get that. for our adult life we must spend a portion of our time working. but for the most part we get to choose whom we work for, how much we work. and we are encouraged to find work that we love and enjoy doing!! our beautiful and innocent children do not get even this basic freedom. they must ask to pee. they must eat a pre-scheduled times. they must do as they are told. they must spend all day everyday with children their age, in a building that is largely cut off from society.
and we wonder why they dont want to go back at the end of summer? actually we dont wonder, that is the point. they are screaming about how they dont want to go, and we ignore them. we dont wonder WHY!!
so what else is there? what is it i do with my kids that has me convinced that there is a better way? ever wonder how children learned BEFORE the very modern invent of public school?
my children have choices. they have even very basic freedoms. life for our family is about fun, enjoyment and learning, all year. over the summer, my daughter continued improving her reading skills, because she wanted to!! she grew her jewelry making business, because she wanted to! she went to the aquarium and spent time with the dolphins, feeding them, and training them with the trainers- because it was one of her dreams. she made jewelry and a card for her favorite band AND met them. SHE made it happen!! she made some of her dreams come true this summer! because she is brilliant. not any more brilliant than any other child. but her brilliance has grown. it has grown because she has the love, support and freedom to GROW!! she doesn't have a stranger scheduling her time, breathing down her neck about how she should be trying harder in math or science. she spent this summer, the same way she spends the rest of the year.
so what IS she going to be doing this year? that is a great question? a question that ultimately is up to her to answer!! i will be checking in here all year to update what she is up to. i will allow you to peer into our life and see what life looks like without school. i suspect we will be playing, hiking, learning about various plants, animals, and cultures... we will be sewing, crocheting, making and selling jewelry... we will be reading and writing great stories... we will be playing guitar, and drums, and possibly violin? we will be dancing. WE WILL BE LEARNING TOGETHER!!!
what a concept.
and my son is kindergarten age. many other families would be sending him out the door, to start serving his 13 year sentence. no. and i am so excited to see what he and i will learn together this year. where will his passion take us? what hidden gifts and talents does he have? what is he curious about? we get to discover together. and i am super-excited about it. i don't have to cry the first day of kindergarten. i dont have to fight my maternal instinct and hand him over to a stranger and institution. I dont have to make myself feel OKAY about it.
i am so indescribably grateful.
i have one last thing to say. put yourself in the place of the child again. the one who doesnt want to go back to school. imagine that you have been complaining, acting out, and otherwise trying to communicate that this feels awful. un-natural. that school is hurting you rather than helping you. and the adults in your life dont hear you. or they hear you but dismiss your feelings. or they try to explain them away.
or perhaps, like many adults, they are counting down the days until school starts, because they are looking forward to having you gone. they are looking forward to having time to themselves. how does that feel? be the child. feel what they might be feeling?
then talk with them, connect with them. explore some other possibilities together. (thanks for hanging in there to the end of this, if you did)
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