Take Them With You

794. Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

I told Rafael that I was considering no longer talking or writing about education. It is topic that fast becoming off limits. He was returning from a trip to study school systems in Minnesota and had a lay over in Seattle so he called to check in. Rafael can make me go on an education rant faster than anyone I know. He and I are aligned in our hopes for learners everywhere. We are both idealists in that we believe change is possible even in the midst of the insanity that has gripped our public school system. We’ve both spent significant portions of our lives engaging in the system.

My decision comes from finally admitting to myself that this system has not lost its mind. It is a system doing what it was designed to do. It perpetuates inequity by design. It is driven my money and not by data or feedback or common sense. It is hurting children. And everyone in the chain knows it. Speaking out, challenging it means losing your job so good people up and down the line tolerate it. They try to make the best of a disaster.

Rafael’s daughter will start first grade in the fall. Short of starting a charter school or homeschooling his daughter, neither of which are viable options, he is left with a raft of bad choices. He knows that to put his daughter into this vile system will snuff the light from her. He was careful to talk about the wonderful people teaching in the school. Their life-light is being snuffed, too. My conversation with Rafael is verbatim the same conversation I’ve had with two other dear friends in the past month. They do not want to send their young kids to school because they fear what it will do to them. Think about that for a moment.

Carol is substitute teaching at the tony private Lakeside school. She’s filling in, teaching full time, through the end of the school year. She’s also done plenty of work in the public schools. Her comment: it is like night and day. “There’s no shortage of money,” she said. When I asked her what the money buys she replied, “The teachers can teach. They’re not slaves to some ridiculous test.”

I told Rafael that in 1960 John F. Kennedy challenged the nation to put a man on the moon within a decade. It seemed an impossible task. We did it because we had the will to do it. I believe we need to stop trying to fix a system that isn’t broken – a system that was designed to perpetuate inequity – and re-imagine what we mean when we say, “education.” He said it was a great idea but somewhat more complex than putting a man on the moon. Perhaps. It is not the complexity, the size of the task that makes me tired of the conversation. It is the absence of will in the people who operate the levers. We’ve constructed a system that does the opposite of what it pretends. It is enormously profitable for curriculum publishers and test makers (dinosaurs in the age of the internet…thus the insistence on testing). In the face of such dishonesty, in the absence of meaningful creative action, all that remains is some form of revolution. Or surrender. Or walking away but walking away with our children and not leaving them every day to be blunted.

5 Responses

  1. The movement afoot needs your light to continue to shine…in this age of enlightenment there are peoples everywhere at work to bring learning back to the classroom. It is hard to cut the head off the serpent and it will be done.

    • Thank you for this…. I want to make sure that I am moving toward the creation of something and not pushing against what I don’t want. Lately, I’m doing a lot pushing against so perhaps a slight pause to re-orient to the light:-)

  2. I think there is hope beyond the early learning years where children are not slaves to the insanity or personal agendas of their “teachers.” There is great hope for children who somehow find their way in college, in a trade school, in graduate school, in coaching school, where they bump into someone who affirms their innate intelligence and their capacity to think and apply themselves.

    I can appreciate any tendency to “rant” about the school systems that strangle children; I taught for 12 years and left to become a psychotherapist and then a coach 10 years ago. I think I’d join you, David, in ranting about the enormous waste of time, energy, and untapped potential that we see in far too many schools. If children can find just one person—one adult who gives them that spark of belief in themselves—they can help themselves to soar in spite of systems that are designed to indoctrinate rather than teach. I wish every adult would be willing to be that person in a child’s life.

    Bless you for what you bring the world, wonderful David!!!

  3. Where are you?

    What you are saying about education I say about the Criminal Justice.

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