EDUCATION AS IF KIDS MATTERED...
I wrote the piece below during my last term at a pioneer progressive school where for the previous 13 years I had been Head of Drama. A new Principal was in the process of attempting to unravel ethos & reverse practice that had been evolving for 90 years & these were dark days for the school.
After two years the the man left, swiftly & unceremoniously. The child-centred ethos & practice that he so despised proved more resilient than the hard-nosed business values that he proposed as an alternative. The current Head is minded to restore much of what made the school unique & so the future for human-scale education in one small corner of the educational world now seems a good deal brighter.
But out there in the real world – the one in which the parents who can’t afford sky-high fees live – the old order prevails so maybe my wistful & melancholy threnody should now be directed more widely...
Once upon a time there was a school where adults & young people were equal in each other’s eyes; where authority meant only knowing important things & passing them on; where power meant the faculty whereby adults & young people together ensured that their community flourished for the good of all; where emotion & intellect thrived together in the same room, indissolubly limnked; where teachers taught & students learned & students taught & teachers learned; where friendship rough was considered more important than manners smooth; where negotiation, consensus, compromise & reconciliation were considered more important than instruction, direction, inflexibility & punishment; where love was a functional word…
…once upon a time.
From The Prophet
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit,
not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth…
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
Children of the future Age
Reading this indignant page,
Know that in a former time
Love! sweet Love was thought a crime.
And we all have known
Good critics who have stamped out poet’s hope,
Good statesmen who pulled ruin on the state,
Good patriots who for a theory risked a cause,
Good kings who disembowelled for a tax,
Good popes who brought all good to jeopardy,
Good Christians who sat still in easy chairs
And damned the general world for standing up,
Now may the good God pardon all good men!
ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING
Pull the blinds
on your emotions.
Switch off your face.
Put your love in neutral.
This way to the human race.
“I learned something at school today. I signed up for folk guitar, computer programming, stained glass art, shoemaking, and a natural foods workshop. I got spelling, history, arithmetic and two stuffy periods”
“So what did you learn?”
“I learned that what you sign up for and what you get are two different things”.
PEANUTS by SCHULTZ
I’d be very disappointed if a Summerhill child became Prime Minister. I’d feel I’d failed.
It takes a village to raise a child.
Creativity is a type of learning process where the teacher and pupil are located in the same individual.
Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.