Today is the first day back at school for kids in the Northern Hemisphere. My partner is also back at his job as a teacher, super excited for the year ahead and for the projects and experiences he will be offering his classes.
My love, Brent, is an amazing teacher. It is his natural gift and leaning to be in a position of instruction, and he does his work with incredible grace, kindness & enthusiasm. It is a marvelous and inspiring thing to watch him coax a child from novice to initiate over their time together, whether that be in english, music, or just life. He gets what teaching is about, and is where he is supposed to be.
Having spent much of the last four years working as an independent contractor in our local school system, I cannot say the same for the majority of teachers in our district, unfortunately. And while it's all heresay from other friends and connections elsewhere, our district is apparently not the only one. Schools all over are in a rapidly decaying state of affairs, the result of a fairly toxic combination of variables: overwhelmed & stressed adults, distracted & stressed children, and a system that has long outlived its usefulness but has yet to be replaced by something more intelligent and responsive to the needs of our times.
Our school system--as Seth Godin has written about in his treatise on education Stop Stealing Dreams--is a damaged and damaging disaster. An archaic and absurd dream of capitalism that originally sought (and still seeks) to create obedient, consuming, producing, toe-stepping civilians, robbed of their innate creativity, wildness, creativity & capacity for internally motivated action. Sure, it as an organization doesn't say that's what it's up to, but the purpose is clear, and the outcomes even more so: teach a child to not think for themselves, and to be obedient above all else.
Like Brent, there are certainly teachers who rally against this norm, and offer truly inspiring ways of educating that nurture and tease out the natural intelligence within our children. Perhaps you had one of these teachers in your school career? I know I had a couple. They changed everything way back in Grade 4, 7, and even in third year University.
But the problem is that these teachers are very much not the norm, and--also like my partner--are exhausted and too often burnt out by trying to offer something that is almost in perfect opposition to what the 'system' is orienting towards. How do you teach the practice of being a free thinker when the majority of your administration (and society--let's be honest!) is geared towards compliance and obedience above all?
Is this but a rant? Yes. But perhaps also a call for attention and conversation around what needs to be addressed in order to create new ways of showing our children (and ourselves) both our outer and inner worlds and experience, and the healthy means of interacting with them over a lifetime.
How do we create systems of schooling that seek to teach children to LOVE learning, and to trust in their intuitive natures and creative instincts? To be kind and mindful, compassionate and service-oriented at the same time that they accomplish their unique work in the world with no apologies, guilt or shame?
To do this we have to get creative, and responsible and aware of the core beliefs that have shaped our scholastic designs. We must move away from the belief that a child is but an incomplete adult, and that good children are obedient children. We must become willing to trust the nature of a child: the curiosity, the need for movement and action, the uniqueness of each individual's proclivities and nature, and explore our own life philosophies. What are we here for? What are we preparing our children for?
We are asking these questions, and the revolution in schooling is upon us. Something tells me Williams Lake might be just about the last place in the world to implement or accept these shifts, but you never know..