So, the first thing I read this first-morning-back from vacation was this amazing post by Bonnie Stewart, a post that echoes much of my own struggle as a parent but articulated in a much more powerful, thoughtful, beautiful way. Here is a snip:
We send them into the school system, most of us, with great hopes. Learning. Education. Talisman words. They promise development of our children’s potential, inculcation into the mysteries of consciousness. The lure of the Tree of Knowledge.
What they get – what we all get – is something…other…than that. We get people who learn their place in our culture. In the – however much I flinch at the word – patriarchy, with its implicit hierarchy of gendered behaviours and classed behaviours and racialized behaviours, even as we in our schools and culture pay lip service to inclusion and acceptance and celebration of difference.
More times than I can count now, in the Q & A follow ups after my presentations, I’ve been asked some variation of “So, what about you, Will? If the system is in such disarray, why don’t you pull your own kids out?” I never give a great answer, I don’t think. And I wonder if it’s because I don’t have one. As I commented to Bonnie, I just feel worse when I consider it deeply. I wrote:
I keep wondering if 10-15 years down the road I’ll look at my kids and wish I’d done it differently. Wish I’d had the guts (?), the sense (?), the love (?) to have put them on a different path, one that as much as I hope for the system to embrace, I fully realize it can’t.
I know deep in my heart that a “better” education lies elsewhere, right now, outside of the school walls. Yet, I keep sending them back. And Bonnie’s description of that dissonance resonates very, very deeply.
In the end, I suspect that I will deliver my children over to some version of a 1950s classroom. Anything else would shock me. And I assume there will be good in it, and bad, just as there was for most of us.
Yet, sitting here thinking about tiny diplomas and the patriarchy and the world I’d like to live in, I recognize that schooling is a choice.
And I marvel and cringe at the power of a system that makes it so difficult for even those of us most deeply embedded in and privileged by its operations to see other options. Patriarchy for the win, indeed.
Schooling is a choice. Why is it so hard for us to see it as such?