All this talk about computer use has got me thinking about a more fundamental reality, hinted at in the truism that ‘a child learns what he lives’.
When children play on computers, they may be learning all kinds of things incidentally, but the one thing they are basically learning is to play on computers – which they may go on to spend many years doing to no purpose. Similarly, when children are at school, they may succeed in teaching themselves the odd random fact amid all the noise and pressure, but what they are really learning is to go to school. Does this sound silly? Just ask yourself how many people you know who are in ‘training’ or ‘adult education’. It seems that no-one today can work for more than a few years before deciding to ‘take a course in something else’. The content of most of these courses is probably no more than could be learned by reading a book or asking somebody. But it’s not the content that matters; it’s the psychological need to be at school.
School, education, training, or whatever you choose to call it, seems to have become the obsession of everyone higher up who claims to want the best for us. Getting everybody into some kind of training is more important to politicians and policy makers than reducing unemployment. Maybe that’s pure pragmatics, as people in ‘training’ don’t count as unemployment statistics, no matter how useless and pointless the ‘training’. Or maybe it’s more than that. People are naturally alarmed at suggestions that the school day should be extended to eight hours, all year round, and the like. We’re less horrified by the more subtle encroachment of school on our adult lives. It could become the norm to be ‘in training’ all your days. Then none of us would be far from the comforting murmur of state indoctrination, which could be gently adjusted to meet all our needs as they arose, leaving no-one behind. What a rosy vision for the future.
So what are we teaching our children when we keep them at home? We are teaching them that life is about actually doing real things. And we’re not allowing them to be emotionally dependent on a system that pats people on the head every so often and presents them with some kind of bogus qualification.
How hard it is to explain this kind of thing when people start quizzing you about ‘your home schooling’. You and your interlocutor seem to be from two different planets, or inhabiting alternative realities. Don’t be alarmed by this – really, only one person in the conversation is likely to be crazy, and it probably isn’t you! Rather, it’s a good sign, a sign that you’ve woken up and started to shovel the manure out of your brain. It’s a sign that you yourself are becoming independent of the system of petty rewards which wears a mask of education but is really more concerned with loyalties and allegiances.
Well, I’ve worn myself out with raving. Time to do something really real, like having a cup of tea. Aah……