Op-Ed
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Op-Ed

Of Schools and Education

I’m one of the younger ones in all of these philosophical groups.

Or at least, I still feel that way. I feel like I’m still growing into this mindset of being able to observe my thoughts and examine my Self. I think a lot of the others might feel the same, like they are still learning and growing too.

My sister sent me a text about my nephew’s behavior. A behavior my dad brought to her attention. When my dad would ask my nephew a question, sometimes he’d just stare blankly. My dad is concerned it will develop into a social issue. My sister is a bit more lassez-faire. She tends to lean that way in general, honestly, which I don’t necessarily believe to be a bad thing. I wish I could harness a little of that. My inclination tends to be much more militant than most people would like for their kids. To my sister, this is just normal pre-teen behavior. In response to my sister’s text, I explained that- mom’s side of the family thinks he is just quiet because his little sister talks so much. This little girl craves the spotlight, leaving my nephew with no space to talk.

Watching my babies grow up into their own person is a bit scary. They are becoming more self-sufficient and self-guided, and we just have to pray they learned all the right lessons. I’m experiencing a similar but opposite scenario with my grandparents. I am watching them gradually age into babies again. They aren’t able to do what they once could, and frankly, that is fucking frustrating. For them, particularly, and then, by default for me. They hardly ask me to do anything but its difficult to spend time with them when they can do nothing but complain or sleep. We can’t take them anywhere because they may need a nap. There is a difference between caring for kids and caring for the elderly and that is: the elderly feel guilty about asking for things. So that guilt is spread. The younger generation caring for them- whether they are the kids or the grandkids — feel like they are obligated to be around to do what is needed, myself included. Especially once you learn from them what really matters in life.

In the end, all that matters is your health and the company you are in. Health topics include: Do you have shelter? Do you have healthy food? If you need medications, are those available to you? Do you have money to live off without needing to work? Are you eating at least a meal a day? Are you getting any exercise, even if its just walking? Do you have someone that can clean the house for you, because you cannot keep up with it alone? Which leads to: Do you get in contact with other humans on a regular basis, even if just by phone? While parents think about the bright futures of their children, I’m walking down a path with my grandparents that is lined with regrets; together we are letting go of any future. For them, all that exists is past and present. What they know (i.e their wisdom) saved onto the hard drive of their mind.

In modern times, we do little with that information. Some, dare I say, might even consider it to be useless. Imagine living an entire life and accumulating knowledge, and then one day having to let go of all of that when your body can no longer perform the tasks it once did. You sit as a container of experience waiting to die. If there is no one interested in learning from you, and you are beyond your working age, you are deemed useless.

Borderline Conspiritorial Rant

Why did they split us all up? Why did they take parents away from their children and grandparents away from theirs? Why are we all trying to “do our own thing” instead of the things we were made to do? All for the machine… to keep society running. They needed workers in the factories and on the roadways. They needed volunteers to keep order in neighborhoods filled with strangers. They tell us we have slight bi-polar disorder and ADHD and feed us alcohol and mind-numbing drugs. Its all fucked. Its amazing how something so obviously beneficial — like the structuring of society — can rip apart our families as it has. We never got the schooling thing right, but the closest to correct were Montesorri schools or the Amish.

Well some people don’t have great families. Some people have abusive families or co-dependent family members that aren’t working toward a greater goal in life. There are some people that will inevitably want to be drones. Those people will become the highest paid if they work up a corporate ladder. Incresing incentive is the reward. That’s how they train public school students. Those jobs that make us cogs in the machine pay the highest. Of course, because there are so many levels of administrative positions in a corporation with a hierarchical order. Even more as the company grows. Those on the top have to be paid more than those on the bottom. Meanwhile the small businesses are not able to keep up with production and the cost of supplies. They can’t pay to have someone answer the phones so they have to stop working to inform impatient customers that their work isn’t done.

This used to be the job of the child in the early 90s. I was one of those kids answering the house phone with a business name. Before that, kids helped dad run the business in different ways and helped mom manage the house in others. This is where we break out into a gender roles conversation, one I am becoming more annoyed by as the days go on in my life. Trust me when I say, I will not be domesticated, but I am disciplined. I know what needs to be done and how to distribute work on a white board over coffee in the morning. It isn’t that difficult to do and doesn’t have to be divided into “man’s work” and “woman’s work”. Can we please grow the fuck up about that? I don’t really give a shit who is staying at home with the kids or taking the kids to work. We need to be working in jobs that allow children to have that training and from their parents not from teachers that are devoid of any responsibility for where that kid ends up in life.

My initial thoughts were, “How can we be so goddamn stupid? How have we have failed so hard?” in terms of the education system. I was planning to be a school teacher myself. While I was pursuing my Biology Degree, I was taking courses in lesson plan design and pedagogy. I quickly found out how ass-backwards funding is, as it is based on test scores. The schools that score the lowest receive less funding; therefore have less money to put into infrastructure or to pay teachers better. They have tons of useless jobs in administration that tend to pay more because they require advanced degrees in Education. A completely failed system. I feel rage because we are failing the children.

And from this anger, I can see how blessed I was. How did I get so lucky? If you're wondering, this journal was influenced by Weapons of Mass Instruction. I attended a symposium by our Darkhorse Discord book club yesterday, in which they discussed their findings and shared some insights they gleaned together. As they were talking, I noticed that somehow I was given all the things they suggested as initiatives to amend the broken school system. To include: free time to think. As a gifted student, I was pulled away from the regular classes to hang out with other gifted students. We were usually given tasks, but nothing that seemed as challenging as handouts and normal busy work. We sat on bean bags and told ghost stories, did arts and crafts, and took a few extra field trips.

I did that from 1st to 8th grade, at which point my family moved to Kuwait for a job my dad took. During the six months we lived there, I got to learn a little Arabic, like how to read and write the symbols. In the later months of our stay, I traveled to Turkey on a school field trip and visited ancient ruins and learned history from a new perspective. When we returned to the states, I got to leave school early during my final two years. My guidance counselor ended up moving away my final year. I ultimately switched schools for my final few semesters of high school, as well. I moved to a small-town school, one in which all the kids grew up together, just as I would have done if we had never left the states. I received a dual seal on my diploma (college and technical prep) that allowed me to choose whether I wanted to go to trade school or university.

Its funny how life sets us up to do what we are meant to do.

Originally written in Collective Journaling at The Stoa

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