Sometimes, I do the Janus thing. Part of me wants to be respectable, civilised, etc. while the other parts want to be the long-haired hippie type I think I was really meant to be. Bear with me….
Caveat: my kids are still getting their education now (so if you two are reading this you can just forget it).
Edict: Forcing teenagers to get their education at this age is a stupid thing.
When did we decide to make kids do things, even if they don’t want to do them? What adults are forced to spend four years doing something they don’t want to do, with no options? If an adult doesn’t like his/her job they have options of other jobs, going back to school, even using social assistance. If a teenager doesn’t like high school, why can’t they get a job, or study something of their own choosing, or use social assistance?
If age seven is considered the Age of Reason, why don’t we permit them to “reason” until they’re 19?
A lot of people have written a lot of books telling discouraged parents how to survive their children’s adolescence. Anthony Wolf is one of those people. He may very well have the necessary qualifications to do this, but that doesn’t mean his ideas will work for everyone. His latest article in the Globe and Mail has some nice platitudes, but one sentence rankled me to no end: “But don’t think their efficiency will ever rival those from that other planet.”
It would be nice if everyone was as efficient as I am (but no more so, please, unless it’s convenient for me). I do expect adults to maintain a certain level of efficiency, particularly if they are being paid to be efficient. Someone who is being forced to do something they don’t want to do, with no recompense… I am certainly not inclined to be efficient when I end up in that situation.
Wolf also suggests parents “stick with the plan” to make their adolescent study. This is smacking, just a little, of a master/slave relationship: persist, and eventually your slave’s will is broken.
Would it not make life easier for everyone if we allowed the children who don’t want to study to do something different? Would it not make for a better education if the student was learning voluntarily? Would it not make for a happier planet if the student could choose what they wanted to learn? I can assure you, there is absolutely no pleasure in “sticking with the plan” to make a mathematically-inclined person analyse English literature.
I want to set them free. I want to take all the students who are bored silly with high school and let them work, be apprentices, live off the land, whatever they want. Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy-laden, and I will set you free in a civilised, democratic society because it doesn’t have to be this way. You are free to make your own mistakes, and learn differently from the way I learn.