If it could be anything, what would it be…

What if school had never existed?  What if when your child was born, or when you were considering having a child, you had to decide how he or she would spend years 5-18 just as you decide how the child spends years 0-4?  

Here’s what I think you’d do.  You’d look at your child, and you’d look at the world as it is now, and you’d decide what kind of environment and what kinds of activities would make sense to introduce.  You’d probably take into account what kinds of careers were at the forefront of the economy (though I’m not sure, because I suspect that some of this orientation/focus is the result of school, and if it didn’t exist then neither would the accompanying orientation), or maybe the occupations that had the happiest healthiest people in them.  You might look at the natural abilities of your child, and see where the overlap might be.  And then, I suspect, you’d go looking for or create opportunities for your child to develop and grow in accordance with what was so in the world and with your child.

If you look at how school is today, at the schooling that’s available for your children’s attendance, does it match?  Are they getting what makes sense for them?  It probably isn’t a yes or no answer.  They’re likely getting some things that you’d want for them, and some that you wouldn’t.  And they’re likely missing some that you’d have put in if you’d been the sole engineer of the extent of their young lives.

We aren’t often invited to consider this, but if we stop and take the time to look, it puts our attention on the gaps.  And if your attention is on those gaps, rather than only on the areas in which your child struggles in a system designed in a different time with different priorities and different children, you just may find a path out of the chronic unworkability and insufficiency.