Sunday, June 13, 2010

Decisions, Decisions

The more I think about it, the more ludicrous our system of education appears to me. Not to just throw the blanket of blame all willy nilly on the evil empire system. I'm just saying.

It starts at around age two, where people (by people, i mean children) are placed in childcare provision facilities called pre-schools. Teacher student ratio is a Big Deal, so the class size must be small and must have a Teacher's Assistant to be considered remotely credible (read: "middle class"). And we can't have two year olds sitting around all day doing nothing but playing, now can we? Heaven's NO! They need to get busy being told what to do and when to do it, and don't even think about having an opinion.

This carries on through pre-school, elementary school and even high school when the people, now approximately 18 years old, have been completely socialized to the standards of behavior within the context of a herd - sorry, group of their peers - with an adult alpha human per group.

So for sixteen years, the young, growing people have all their big decisions made for them by their parents, by their teachers, by the society. We tell them when to do what, how to do it, where to do it - and don't ask why, because We Know What's Good For You.

... And now, young woman, as you graduate high school and you've had your 18th birthday - which magically turns you into "An Adult" - it is your turn to make a decision for yourself:

What do you want to do for the rest of your life? ... Now GO!

How is it that the absurdity of this has escaped us as a thinking race?! Are we not intelligent, thinking, rationa- ... wait, never mind.

Do you see what I'm getting at here? Being a grown up takes years of practice, yet we have been isolating young people, forcing our will upon them (albeit with good intentions) and denying them the opportunities to learn how to think for themselves.

We create this magical age when they are supposed to be able to literally go to bed as 17 year old "children" and wake up on their 18th birthday as Board Certified Adults. (?!?!?!?! - Come on!)

No. This will not do. It isn't doing.

I cannot overstate the value of recognizing children as individuals (aren't we all?). They are not small pieces of human clay to be molded into our own images of who we think we are and/or who we want to (them) to be. Rather, I call to mind the artist who spoke of the marble already having the finished piece within it and that the artist was merely the person who helped it to emerge.

Of course they need guidance, mentoring, facilitators. Of course, of course, of course!

But they do not need to be squished, pressed, squeezed or formed. They need loving adults in their lives who can help them process what they need help processing and help them access what the need to access; who will watch and wait for the wings to emerge.

One of the better definitions of Critical thinking that I found is this:

An essential tool of inquiry; purposeful, self-regulatory judgment that results in interpretation, analysis, evaluation, and inference, as well as explanation of the evidential, conceptual, methodological, criteriological, or contextual considerations upon which that judgment is based. The ideal critical thinker is habitually inquisitive, well-informed, trustful of reason, open-minded, flexible, fair-minded in evaluation, honest in facing personal biases, prudent in making judgments, willing to reconsider, clear about issues, orderly in complex matters, diligent in seeking relevant information, reasonable in the selection of criteria, focused in inquiry, and persistent in seeking results which are as precise as the subject and the circumstances of inquiry permit.

My best friend's son's teacher told her that of her entire class, he is the only critical thinker. Why? Because she is the kind of mother that is devoted to letting her children Be. Her children have a voice in their home.

The Village School has a mandate to foster self directed learning; ultimately a self-directed life.

Who doesn't want that for their children? For anyone they love, actually.

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