Like most other parents, I want my children to be happy. Well adjusted, hard working, kind, free-thinking, and happy. Capable of stepping back, looking at the world or our society, our education system, our health care system or whatever else that may seem questionable, say “This is f***ed up”, and then proceed to find out if it was always this way, why it is this way, and how they can deal with it accordingly, regardless of what the majority is doing or thinking.
But I want them to be happy.
I have a girl in kindergarten, and a boy in Grade 2. They are happy. I think the added challenge of learning a second language keeps them stimulated and not bored. They are in a terrific setting, and come home to a house of many people of a variety of ages, personalities and interests. I am content to leave them in and encourage their education in that particular setting, mainly because of the opportunity for bilingualism (Mom loves languages and communication). But they are happy. And that’s great.
I have a daughter who is in the local English village school. She is happy, but I worry about her at times. Is she basically learning how to be a go-with-the-crowd sheeple? Some of the things that come out of her at times make me feel as though she is losing her individuality and has basically adapted to “doing what she’s supposed to do when she’s supposed to do it”. I’m not a fan of about 20 other kids her age being the main influence in her life and development. Yet she needs a whole lot of activity going on around her or she’s unhappy.
I have another daughter who is at the Jr. High. I think that by this point in their “education” there is simply a lot of wasted time and time filling, to keep them occupied. I think the zest for actually learning as opposed to memorizing things and passing tests and filling in answers has been… quieted. If not killed altogether in some cases. Again, caring staff, great people, but messed up system. She worries about assignments, homework, and “points” and yet doesn’t understand why these “points” are so important, she just knows she has to get them or she’ll have extra work to do. She gets tense, stressed, and tired, and stops enjoying learning. She lit up today when we were talking about pirates over breakfast (her brother brought up pirates in Somalia and I mentioned all the pirates that were around the island years ago). She asked me to get a book out of the library about the pirates in the Maritimes after hearing that one pirate kidnapped an Irish princess and they wound up falling in love and getting married and living in Newfoundland for the rest of their days. So I found one and requested it.
I don’t know if school is going to dampen her zest completely over time. I don’t know if she will keep enjoying the recesses with her friends, and the cool teachers that she likes, while tolerating the subject matter and tests and worksheets. I just want my daughter to be happy. Well adjusted, hard working, kind, free-thinking, and happy…
I am observing a lot from where I stand, with so many children of different ages experiencing different educational scenarios. It can be both interesting and difficult. I don’t think that with parents like us, our kids will ever truly be “sheeple”, but I worry. I get that approaching life with eyes wide open is a little more difficult than just going with the flow. We have lost the ability to think for ourselves, and trust a little too much, when we shouldn’t. I watched part of a film the other night where one of the main characters quoted the Dalai Lama. I can’t remember exactly what he said, but the jist of it was that someone had asked the Dalai Lama when he thought the world would be most vulnerable to succumb to the likes of another Hitler or someone worse. What would the first sign be? The answer the Dalai Lama gave him was one word:
We go with the flow, do what we’re supposed to, eat what we are told is good, take the medications and vaccinations that we are told will keep us safe, send our kids to school every day so that they can be prepared for university, which we are told will prepare them for life (HA!)… We are stuck in disturbing routine, and we are sleep walking through it…
As I send four of my children to three different schools, I feel like I am doing so with three different arms reaching over to Fortune, over to Cardigan, and over to Montague, keeping my hands on their shoulders, ready to yank them back when I feel they are falling asleep.
I want them to be happy. But I want them to be awake.