Saturday, November 5, 2011

I non-conformity

Public school is exhausting.  I'm sure plenty of people find private school exhausting as well.  Whose idea was it exactly to hoist our children out of bed at such an early hour, follow them around the house like a drill sergeant until they are ready, and shove them out the door to go sit in a drop off line or at the bus stop in the cold of morning? 

Oh, right, it's that whole "work while the sun is up" inherited by our forefathers who worked the land.  Are we working the land?  No...I rather think not.

But more than my predilection for all hours post-noon, the thing that bothers me most, other than the the bureaucratic BS and red tape, is the proverbial square box, square peg theory that most schools operate on.  Now before you start your defense of what I am sure is not an easy paradigm to operate, rest assured I know it's not easy.  We, as a country and a society, expect much but give little to our education system.  I get that, assuredly.

What I don't get and what I don't stand behind, believe in, like, adhere to and refuse to accept is that every child is the same.  And this is not just the rant of a mother of an atypical child.  There are plenty of typical children this argument would apply to as well.

Take me for example.  I've spent 95% of my life trying desperately hard, to the point of insanity, to fit myself into a mold I never belonged in.  Where did this start? School.  The conformity of school.  The "everyone do as everyone else" sensibility that sounded good on paper, I am sure.  Like most things that sound good on paper (Communism for example), it doesn't really work does it? 

What are we teaching our children?  That they have to be like everyone else?  Where, may I ask, is the fun in that?  Where is in the ingenuity?  The passion?  The imagination? 

One of my favorite things about life is the diversity of the world we live in.  I revel at other cultures, other religions, people who walk to the beat of a different drum....most of them really walking to a full on orchestra going on in their head all at once.  This is what makes life interesting to me.  So is that why I nearly have a panic attack every day when I drop my atypical son of at his typical school?  Absolutely.

You see I don't really mind that my son is atypical.  What I mind is how other people respond to it.  They see a box, they want to put him in it.  He is either one thing or he is the other.  Well, no, in fact, he's not.  He's many things -- brilliant, musically gifted, funny, extremely loving and empathetic but he is also stubborn, strong willed and sometimes socially awkward.  So what?  Is your typical child perfect or does he yell at you some times in Target?  Every parent has nuances within their child that make parenting, well, the hardest job in the world.  But also by far the most rewarding.

So why do we do it?  For the sake of education?  Let's face it folks, the system isn't really churning out generations of free thinkers.  What it is churning out is just another generation of rat racers who think it's absolutely necessary to have a house in the burbs with two gas guzzling cars and two kids.  That's a fine dream, but it. Is. Not. For. Everyone.

Furthermore, for those children who don't fit into the schematic that is the American philosophy, all we wind up doing is extinguishing their spark.  Not to get all spiritual and lovey-dovey on you this cold November morning, but G-d made people the way they are for a reason.  I really do believe that.  My son has taught me patience I didn't know I had; he's taught me to not care what people think even more than I did before; to laugh when things get broken, spilled or destroyed; and to just 'be.'  I'm pretty sure he saved my life on a lot of levels and sometimes I think I need him more than he needs me. 

But one thing he definitely needs is a different avenue.  He's not going to just sit at desk for the next 10 years so he can just turn out like the masses, be bored out of his mind, and wind up thinking there is something "wrong with him."  I always felt like that in school -- most kids who don't fit in do.  And I pretty much refuse to let that happen here.  Life is too short, people are too special, and something has to be done to break the cycle.