The Prairie

Here’s one of the responses I got to my post about how we would decide what we want for kids, and what to offer them, if there had never been school:

“OK.  So, if I think about what it was like for people, say, on the prairie, when what they had to do was find food and water and survive, I get that we’d need to do now is figure out what survival actually takes, and then teach kids those things.  But in those times, kids respected adults, and were willing to do what they were told.  Now kids don’t seem to want to listen to adults or believe what they say.  There’s not enough respect for that to work.”

I agree that there’s resistance now that there hasn’t always been.  But it’s not because kids don’t want adults to teach them what it really takes to survive (which is another whole topic for another day).  It’s because in other times, it’s been clear that what the adults were offering or insisting upon was what actually mattered.  There was no question for kids on that prairie that it would be useful to learn how to find food.  Much of what we insist on now cannot reasonably be connected to what it actually takes to survive, or succeed. Or we’re unwilling to engage with kids in conversation about what it actually takes, so we lose credibility with them.