I am outrageously passionate about learning but not so passionate about schooling.
I have wild ones, that i am certain of. Anyone who knows them well enough would find it hard to disagree. It is true, that my little ones have the freedom to be as they are in all of their delightful and not so delightful shades. And it is true as a mother that i have recognised early what will and will not work for them without greatly effecting their inherent selves. This has taken us on a path that is undoubtably moving us away from any of the traditionalism that is usually expected right now at their ages. However, I am no longer really interested into moulding them into something that resembles little to who they are, for the sake of somebody elses idea of what they should be doing. The more I leave them alone, to follow their own guidance, the more i am recognising that they are always discovering and learning exactly what they need to be at precisely the right time for them. I cannot imagine these two little ones thriving in traditional school setting. My youngest would without a doubt conquer her experience if she was to embark on the mainstream schooling path. She would surly learn quickly to play by the rules and manipulate the system well. I’m certain she would challenge where she deemed necessary and the probability of this occurring more often than not would be high. She would absolutely, unquestionably survive the system. Except, to survive I’m afraid is no longer adequately enough. In every other part of our lives we are living truthfully, not measuring ourselves or abilities by any other person or methodical method. We are not comparing, justifying or compromising our selves. Most importantly we are not trying to please any one else’s expectations. And so much of education has been built around this calibre. Children are forever trying to please, do it the right way, the way that gets them the most praise and recognition. For what? They are taught early that what other people think, matters more than their own innate inclinations and i wonder is that really what we are wanting our children to believe? That they don’t matter as much as the one who stands before them. The one who has taken a more conventional path, the one who is older, the one who has a higher degree, the one who has a larger bank balance, the one who was born male? This familiar notion could go on forever. Disregarding our own guidance to please somebody elses ideas for what they deem to be right. I’m clear that my children were not born to please me or anyone else for that matter. Their lives are theirs to mould into what ever shape they desire, even at the ages of four and five. Their ‘wildness’ is inherently their own. Following this path of learning and living has been easier and come more naturally than any other orchestrated path we have followed before. This path is natural learning, a more natural education. It allows my children to show up fully in the truth of who they are. They don’t need to hide behind masks or pretend to be or like anything that they don’t. It teaches them to speak their truth, and maybe when they are older they will be less afraid of this, especially if their notions lend themselves towards raising a little controversy.
My children will not grow to know this day as a celebration. They will learn the heavy truths of the suffering that occurred during this time. They will not be sheltered from the painful reality of our history to follow along in this new tradition of celebration, when remembering is more appropriate for the occasion. We will acknowledge the true Australians of this land we have all laid claim to. We will recognise and validate exactly what this day represents. We will say how sorry we are in our hearts and ask to be forgiven, for the undeniably unforgivable.
“An elementary school teacher was giving a drawing class to a group of six-year old children. At the back of the class room sat a girl who normally didn’t pay much attention in school. In drawing class she did. For more than twenty minuets the girl sat with her arms curled around her paper, totally absorbed in what she was doing.The teacher found this fascinating. Eventually she asked the girl what she was drawing. Without looking up, the girl said, “I’m drawing a picture of God.” Surprised the teacher said, “But nobody knows what God looks like.” The Girl said, “They will in a minute.” … I believe passionately that we are all born with tremendous capacities, and that we lose touch with many of them as we spend more time in the world. Ironically, one of the main reasons this happens is education.”
-Ken Robinson, The Element
We have reached another final ending of secondary education. The girls are all taking a well-earned breath now. The previous year, has been one of the hardest contradictions i have ever had to give my entire support to and in doing so, it has become ever so clear that my desire to move away from supporting mainstream educating is now undeniable. These girls of ours have played the game and they have played it exceptionally well. I have witnessed them consistently refrain from voicing their truths, their opinions, their creativity and their individualities. They learned to not step on toes and to keep the peace even when it meant going against the truth because to challenge the system or the school or the teacher would have had a detrimental consequence on their personal results, regardless of the validity. They learned not to make the inappropriate comments and judgments made by teachers matter to them, and the noticeable partiality teachers held for certain co students bother them. They worked incredibly hard, kept their focus and received more than admirable results for their efforts and are all now considered to be a part of a small percentage of success stories of mainstream eduction. But are they? What exactly are we defining their success on? There is no doubt of how exceptionally proud i am of their accomplishments but it has nothing to do with a number or score that some system places such high value on. I wonder to what detriment are they having to acquire their success, and would they really choose it to be this way if given the choice?
My greatest fear is that the message that is being sent within this process of educating is that they simply don’t matter. The very fact that they are unique individuals, who consist of a complexity of different abilities and talents is being lost in the process. Instead what they are learning is that they must merely comply and be willing to shut themselves off from the very aspects of who they are, and do what they are directed to do, the way they are directed to do it. They must do this without opinion and ever raising the obvious question of, why? Why must we do this? This is a very simple and valuable question that is asked often early on in the education process and rarely accurately answered. I fear that what is being really taught is, how to successfully navigate your way through a system and play the game.
These girls true abilities and intelligence cannot be measured in this way. This is not something their education has provided them with, and even with the highest notable recognition, it still fails to see the entirety of who they are and the their immense individual worth. I hold more appreciation for their ability of withstanding spending so much time within a system that increasingly denied them the space and opportunity to really discover who they are and what they really want for themselves and still keep themselves perfectly grounded. We have been blessed with wise children. We know that they are more than capable of being in complete control of their own futures. And it will be inspiring to stand back and witness the forthcoming unfolding. I only wonder, what if the same freedom and space and opportunity had been offered much earlier? What if this process is no longer really necessary at all anymore. It is my thought that they undeniably would still be powerfully driving themselves forward in their lives, unsubdued.
If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”
More and more I’m leaning towards leaving my children alone. I am no longer standing in the way of their freedom. They are free to develop, discover, learn and interact at their own will. I’m trusting my children in their natural instincts and better judgements in knowing what it is they are wanting. My parenting is radically different now compared to what it may have looked like fifteen years or so ago. I too, are radically different now. The more I allow myself to flow into the ease of life, the easier life is becoming. There is no longer any one story i am endeavouring to fit into or trying to make my children fit into whether they are wanting or not. There is no direction that has been set before us that we are wanting to follow, that feels right anymore. This story we are creating is new. The way we are moving is new. We are walking a path that few are walking, and we are alright with that. We are unafraid, and faithful to ourselves and to our journey. Maybe there in lies the answer to contented happiness. More of trusting life to happen and allowing it to flow, welcoming whatever arises rather than pushing against and struggling in what comes about. Even the seemingly negative experiences can be blessings if we open to their messages. My children were not born to conform in this world as it is before us now, that i am certain of. I too have resisted for most of my life to agree and go along quietly with ideas and ways that innately have not felt like the right way. Maybe that is why they chose me to be their mother. But ultimately, it has been the determination of my children’s Will to not bend themselves towards people or experiences that they innately know will not serve them well, that has bought us to where we are standing now. I find myself questioning everything, especially things that rise resistance in us or simply just don’t feel right. I am listening to them in their no’s as it holds as much power as what they are saying yes to. And i want them to know from the beginning of their lives what they say yes and no to in life, matters. They are not here to simple follow those who went before them around in their ways. They have their own way, most of the time they are leading it and most of the time its going against everything that has gone before us. Still, we go forth fearlessly trusting ourselves and unafraid of laying new paths that have yet to be walked by the many.
It is my daughters final year of senior education. To say I’m incredibly proud of her would be an understatement, but it’s never been her position to prove anything to me. She is already all-encompassing of everything she has ever needed to be. Her final year has been a heavy weight to endure. It has left me as a parent, quite disillusioned and a somewhat perplexed as to why we are deeming it necessary to place such astronomical amounts of pressure upon these young adults shoulders. Even the most well-balanced adult would have difficulty sustaining the weight of such pressures. Nevertheless she has held her own, in a system that holds very little room for flexibility and individual sentiments. She knows that she has given it her all, and most of all she knows she did it for herself. And that is all that is ever really necessary. For her final media piece she produced a short film focusing on concerning issues still facing women today on a global scale. She chose to use her voice, she chose to be brave and innately powerful in her message. Whats important is she is willing. Willing to be seen, be heard, and is already comfortable in the knowing that what she has to say matters. We can spend our entire lives coming to this realisation, the realisation of our own worth and how much of a role it plays in everything we choose to undertake. If this is the only message that our children take with them as they embark on their journeys, then as parents we will have done enough.