Tuesday, July 28, 2009

School should not replace home and community

At a recent graduation I attended one would imagine from all the fanfare that the best years of one's life happen on school grounds; "All the happy memories-tra la la."
Most people, on closer reflection, would beg to differ.
I think it is a shame that life is forced to revolve around the school scene-such a limited experience.
The school experience has become so ingrained in our day to day that it may be the only common ground kids (and adults to kids) have in which to communicate through. Even amongst kids of the same age, if you do not attend the same school, then you are a perceived as a threat at the worst, 'not in' or 'other' at the best.

Kids are engaged in many different pursuits ; music, art, books, movies, sports, and they talk about these things, yet the taste of school is palpable across the board, contaminating speech and thought.

And where family and community neighbourhoods should hold the strongest position, school has taken a death grip. School has replaced both home and community. And this has produced a debilitating effect on what should be the most important links.

Why do we settle for so little? Kids spend more of their waking hours at school than at home with the family or out in the community.
But young kids especially need to spend more time in the presence of those who care about them; who like them who want to be with them. And they need this more than the company of peers.

Imagine if there was a body of such people in the community, a pool from which to draw from; people who had the time to mentor the young?
We need to begin to prioritize families and community. Mentoring and learning made available to everyone at all times as well as a tailored education (as opposed to 'one size fits all') should be every person's right.

"We have time and again missed the lesson of the Congregational principle: people are less than whole unless they gather themselves voluntarily into groups of souls in harmony. Gathering themselves to pursue individual, family and community dreams consistent with their private humanity is what makes them whole;only slaves are gathered by others.
And these dreams must be written locally because to exercise and larger ambition without such a base is to lose touch with the things which give life meaning: self, family, friends, work and intimate community."

John Taylor Gatto

The Congregational Principle, Dumbing us Down

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hmmm...Interesting sentiment. But could it not be argued that school IS a community in itself? You talk about schools replacing neighborhoods, but really, society can be divided by neighborhood boundaries as easily as they are connected. Examples of this phenomenon include black-vs-white sides of town or poor-vs-rich. (Listen to Tracey Chapman's song Across The Line, folks!) It is true that inter-school connectedness is sometimes limited, but in other ways, schools are a great way for kids to make friends based on common ground, instead of based on race or class.
Schools aren't the only problem in our world; everything in our society is geared to patriarchal, and schools are just following the examples given by government, corporations, and communities, and homes. Just think about all that before condemning the school system. It's not flawless, but it's the best education available to many.

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