My oldest son is 19 and he has been an eager sportist since he started to walk. He turned into a dancer about four years ago and all his talents and eagerness and heart have been in dancing since. He wants to fly his body around all the time and so he practices, trains, works hard with his group on choreography, they practice, perform, practice, perform… The energy never seems to cease, the spirit never dies out, the motivation has been flying higher and higher through the years.
But every morning when he goes back into the schooling system and when it is again all about shoulds and shouldn’ts, about having to learn and memorize all those for him unimportant, unreal and uninteresting things…, well each morning a bit of life in him appears to die out. He comes back from the school in a bad mood, unhappy, depressed… Just to struggle with the idea of having to go to his room and study all that stuff some more.
But then in the evening, when the moment for him to go to another training or performance (which is at least once a day, every single day…) comes, him mood brightens up and he hurries out the door, to be happy again and to enjoy life for a couple of hours. Just to wake up in the morning and enter into the dark, foggy face of his life again.
What are we doing to each other? What are we doing to our kids? There is this schooling system that was not created in order to meet the needs of our kids but rather to serve the needs of industrialisation – you know, putting kids some place so that their parents can go to work, and then in these places training kids into skills that will make them useful in the process of production of goods and profit. I know I sound a bit like Karl Marx – and I don’t think this is bad at all.
Anyway, all these systems – economic, social, political… – have clearly not been performing very well in terms of meeting the needs of everybody (but rather in a rather violent way meeting the needs of just some privileged people) transforming life into a rat race. A lot of our thoughts and conversations are circling around our frustrations and dissatisfactions with all these systems, yet we keep happily directing our kids into these very same systems.
We tend to just not bother with it too much and rather take the path of least resistance. The system is here, it is the way it is, and our kids better become fully functioning parts of it as soon as possible. They can be creative and full of life and inspiration a few hours over weekends – the rest of the time should be about polishing their compatibility with the system. We have survived and so they will survive too, right? Life is tough. End of story.
So, my dilemma? What do I want to support in regards to my kids: that, which is most alive and beautiful in them, or the process of boxing them into the system as it is? My heart is rather clear, yet the mind is not so sure what is best for their long-term well-being. Because, you know, with school… education… more opportunities… safety… chances… maybe…
Anyway, if you haven’t seen Ken Robinson’s TED talk yet, make sure to take your time and do it. It is well worthwhile.