School is different these days.
Or so they tell us.
If you dare criticise it, you are bound to hear this.
“Not MY school. It’s different!”, “It’s not all bad”, “It’s not how it used to be”, “You obviously don’t know what school is like these days”.
I dearly wish that were true.
But it’s not. Or at least your version of acceptable change is different to mine.
Do the children choose what they want to learn now?
Are they not required to be there for 6 hours a day, 5 days a week, whether they want to or not?
Do the children have bodily autonomy?
Are they still separated into groups based on age?
Do they get to spend as much time outside as they like?
Are they able to engage in unstructured, free, risky play?
Can they dress how they like? Have their hair how they like?
Can they learn about their interests? Follow their passions?
Have they got rid of testing? Standardization?
Have they stopped using coercive methods to make them learn?
Have they ditched punishment and rewards in favour of respect?
Are the kids still isolated from real life?
Are they still encroaching on family time with homework?
Have we given up the crazy idea of a one size fits all curriculum?
Didn’t think so.
Maybe some things have changed. We don’t hit them with a cane anymore when they won’t follow orders (well, not where I live). But it looks like the same old thing to me. The number of disheartened teachers leaving the profession suggest it’s actually even worse.
It’s ok, we know exactly what we’re missing. It’s no secret. We’ve been there, we have friends with kids there, some of us tried it out for a while. We hear about it on the news, we hear parents and teachers complaints on social media, we can even read the whole curriculum online.
We’re not choosing to forgo school because we’re uninformed about what it’s like.
We know and we still don’t want it. We can’t justify using it.
Because do you know what else we know? Our children. We know them deeply. We get to spend their childhood with them. And no amount of ‘educational reform’ is worth giving that up for. Even if we could borrow those rose coloured glasses for a minute.
School has not changed in any way that is meaningful or acceptable to us. And I would go as far as to say that it never can. It simply can never compete with LIFE. It doesn’t even come close.
So thanks but no thanks. We’re not interested.
We’re not buying what you’re selling.
“…the idea of special learning places where nothing but learning happens no longer seems to me to make any sense at all. The proper place and best place for children to learn whatever they need or want to know is the place where until very recently almost all children learned it–in the world itself, in the mainstream of adult life.”
“We made a terrible mistake when (with the best of intentions) we separated children from adults and learning from the rest of life, and one of our most urgent tasks is to take down the barriers we have put between them and let them come back together.” – John Holt