A friend shared this blog post with me the other day. I always enjoy reading Peter Gray, and here he puts into eloquent words something I’ve been thinking for a long time about school/no school.
I wrestle with the knowledge that although we’ve made this work for our family, it can be difficult for families to opt out of the school system. Society is set up around a particular form of education, and not following that can be complicated in many ways.
I also know that there are positives about school and there are negatives about not going to school. In our case, it really would feel good to be part of a wider community in which to share experiences, although in places where it’s more common, that’s less of an issue. Enabling your children to have interesting experiences beyond the home can also be challenging when society isn’t used to children being included. I’ve spent a lot of evenings pondering how society could work in a way that is less rigid, and more empathetic and joyful for all of us, children and adults alike.
I was struck by the sadness of the current system the other day. I walked into our little village mid-morning. The Wednesday market was on, and people were going about their daily lives, shopping, stopping for a chat in the street, having a coffee in the sun in the village square. I was struck by the fact that there were no children. It seemed tragic that the after all these years, the best system we have come up with is for all the children to be in a building together, five days a week, from 9am til 4pm. That seems like a big lack of creative thinking. Sure, it solves what to do with children when their parents are working, but really, is that the best we can do?
So, I was inspired to read Gray’s vision of a brighter future.
“Briefly, what I envision, in my dream for the future, is that instead of schools as we know them today we would have a system of community centers, open to everyone, where children–and adults too, if they wish–can come to play, explore, and learn. Where possible, there would be fields and woods where children can get away from adults and explore on their own. The tools of learning would be available, including computers. The town library would be part of each center. Local people, with various skills, would devote some time there offering classes to those who wish to take them–in music, art, athletics, math, foreign languages, cooking, business management, checkbook balancing, and anything else that people deem to be fun, interesting, or important. There would be no requirements, no grades, no ranking of people compared with other people. Local theater and music groups would put on productions at the center, and people of all ages could form new groups, of whatever sorts met their interests.”
Amen to all that!