“Because of COVID” is my least favorite phrase.
Masks required. . .because of COVID. Cancelled events…because of COVID. One-way grocery store aisles…because of COVID.
And, of course, kids out of school. . .because of COVID. What will happen with the loss of schooled children? After all, it’s schooling that separates students into classes, and manages them with schedules and bells. It’s schooling that fosters dependency on pre-determined thoughts in textbooks with pre-determined questions. It’s schooling that socializes children into conformity.
At the outset of compulsory schooling in our nation, the powers-that-be were following a Prussian model: (1)“the state is sovereign, the only true parent of children” (2) “intellectual training is not the purpose of state schooling – obedience and subordination are” (3) “the schoolroom. . .shall be dumbed down into simplified fragments”.1
In what way, and where, ought students be taught? Should I decide that? Should you? Is it time to set schools free on the free market? Should parents decide who, what, when, where and how their children learn?
As former New York Teacher of the Year John Taylor Gatto put it, “We have ample evidence from the experiment of American history that ordinary people, trusted to be sovereign, can do extraordinary things.”
Gatto also said, “To be educated is to understand yourself and others, to know your culture and that of others, your history and that of others, your religious outlook and that of others. If you miss out on this, you are always at the mercy of someone else to interpret what the facts of any situation mean.”1
Are you wearing a mask? Has your event been cancelled? Are you walking one-way through the grocery store?
Kids are out of school, practicing independence, self-reliance, solitude and free thinking. They’re inventing, being creative, playing outside and building self-confidence. They’re reading books other than textbooks and governing themselves. Students are not being schooled, but they are getting an education…because of COVID.
1Gatto, John Taylor. A Different Kind of Teacher. Berkeley Hills Books, 2001.