Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Schooling and Labels
I prefer to stay focused on the positive aspects of unschooling, instead of the negative aspects of compulsory schooling. But the simple truth is sometimes we need to address those negative aspects. Most people (myself included) are products of that system, and it's affects can be seen nearly everywhere. One thing the school system excels at is labeling people. This is not by accident either. Th...e system purposefully sorts and labels children so as to "mark" them as desirable people and undesirable, creating division and animosity among us at a very early age. All on purpose. Please, don't take my word for it. Read John Taylor Gatto's "Weapons of Mass Instruction" for more information and resources. Please understand, I am not blaming the teachers. I am blaming the system. I know and love many amazing teachers who fight against this system everyday out of love for children. They believe the system can be fixed, while I respectfully disagree. We see this labeling and segregating everywhere. Honor roll, gifted and talented, ADD, hyperactive, student of the week/month, varsity, advanced, remedial, at-risk, etc etc etc. Once we put these labels on people, we treat them differently. I saw in Josh's kindergarten class a group of kids who all got along wonderfully, suddenly divided when some were accepted to gifted and talented while others weren't. We're made to look up to those who do well within the system, and look down on those who do not. It becomes second nature to do this for the rest of our lives. We judge each other by the labels on our clothes, our cars, our food packages; by the labels placed on us by our line of work or where we come from, everything. And we treat people according to these judgments, instead of getting to know them. Papa Bear works with children in daycare, and every day he sees these sweet, innocent children with the potential to do anything treated differently by these same assumptions. After having a perfectly good session with one boy he was told, "Oh, don't expect much from him, he doesn't speak English." With Papa Bear, the boy understood and spoke English just fine. How is he to reach his potential when the people who spend 8+ hours a day, 5 days a week with him treat him this way? I don't have a solution to offer, but I think the first step is to acknowledge this is happening. Once we see it happening in ourselves we can make an effort to stop it. We can make an effort to see the good in people, to see that everyone has something to offer, to see that we all have different talents and strengths. And that is a wonderful thing! We especially need to make this effort in regards to our children and all children. They are all naturally motivated to do well, what they sometimes lack are the skills needed to do so. That doesn't mean they are "less than" or unable, it just means they haven't found the right tools yet. Why not show them?See More "