I recently found this article in the Tyee about unschooling. It continually amazes me what lies just beneath the surface of things we just take for granted in our society.
I mean, everybody knows that babies have to sleep in cribs, right? And yet when you dig just a little bit into it and learn the history of crib sleeping you realize it’s a bit of an abberation. It bears little relation to the conditions under which human beings developed and adapted over hundreds of thousands of years. But because “that’s just the way it’s done” we don’t even think to ask questions. Yet when we do, it starts to seem obvious that it’s weird to put a newborn baby to sleep in a separate environment from any other living, breathing adult (I mean, just consider where it’s been sleeping for the last few months?). While I get that cribs work for some folks and some babies do fine in them it now seems like such a bizarre arrangement.
I think the same can be said of school. How many people who send their children to public school actually know the history of the institution? Why does nobody ask basic questions such as: is age-segregation an appropriate social environment for the normal, social development of young humans?Or, why do we place so much emphasis on standardized tests and grades when virtually NOBODY asks that of any professional or hired hand (did you ask your doctor what her grades were? did you ask your mechanic how well he scored on his mechanics school exam?).
In terms of success, in business or any professional endeavour, nobody asks you what your scores are – they base their evaluation on one thing: performance. A stock brokerage could care less if one of their brokers failed every subject in school if he consistently outperforms his colleagues and reaps profits for his bosses. Pro athletes need to play their game well. Artists need to move their audience. Inventors need to make products people want and can use.
I’m not the sort of person to be on the fringes of things. I am a pretty laid back sort of person and I rarely questioned societal norms before I had children. I just consider myself amazingly lucky to have stumbled upon a community of people who do so and who could show me what happens when you start to ask questions.
When I read stuff like that article in the Tyee it makes me feel that a hundred years from now we may well have abolished the current education system (or greatly modified it) and people just may look back on us unschooling types as being the pioneers of change in this regard. Most of the time our little family is just living our lives and learning as we go along, but every now and then I feel like we are on the cusp of something very new and very exciting.
I know that not everybody has the time, the desire, or the resources to unschool but, at least here in Vancouver, we are fortunate to have a wide variety of alternative schools, many of whom have questioned the way things have been done for so long, and who strive to do it a bit differently.
For once in my life I seem to have caught on to something before it was widely established. Who’d’ve thought? 😉