Resistance is Futile

Yesterday, while having a discussion with a friend and parent from school, the idea of a think tank came up. The reason this entered the conversation was our feeling on how to get people who are on board with a total realignment in how we look at education, into a room to brainstorm. How to reach the most ardent people in the world and collectively think about our approaches. In essence, this is what we do at conferences, but how to go further.

But the more we thought about it, the more difficult the reality became. America, for some strange reason, is still too comfortable. Even though everything that has been tried, practically every model of economics and basic day-to-day living has pretty much failed for a large portion of the population. There is still this sense that Americans are unwilling to break away from what they know. Maybe the idea brought by Gurdjieff and Ouspensky that “man is asleep” and that until he awakens, he cannot do other than what he does. This means that pollution, war, poverty etc., will continue, whether we like it or not. This was not very encouraging for me to realize.

The image of people, even good people, even me, are walking around, hypnotized into listening to one single radio wave-length. One radio station being received by everybody 24/7. And what this station is telling us is that we are not good enough. That our children need to know blah blah in order to do blah blah blah. And if they are not doing blah blah blah by a certain age than woe onto you and them. You have no future. You have no prospects. You will not survive. Resistance is futile.

My friend was lamenting the recent transfer of his son ( my son’s best friend) into public school. Just his short term observation of what homework he has to do every night. The stuff they are purportedly teaching, causes him to shake his head. I have been down this road myself, but that is another story.

We are living at a strange juncture in time (aren’t we always?). One where it is clear that many of the warnings we got in the 1950’s and 1970’s are coming to fruition. I have had recent images of “rivers of plastic” coming into my in-box. We are constantly on the brink of war or involved in a war that we have no connection as to how we got there. The school system is reporting systematic failures. No health care. Doctors who lack knowledge of nutrition. We are awash in a sea of automobiles constantly. Banks have taken everything, and given back nothing. Our society proves itself on a daily basis to be getting dumber and dumber. Less aware by the minute. Deeper asleep than before.

At the same time there is some of the most brilliant innovation going on all around the world. There are people actively involved in trying to find ways for a different sort of life. One that is simpler, less encumbered by the old trappings and material desires. But alas, we are all tied to the world of Samsara (sanskrit for: the physical world.)

So in a moment of admission, if I myself am struggling to get free, what can I impart to someone who is just coming up in the world. Someone who is in the process of discovery. My only answer to this is to leave them alone. It is this approach that I have seen have a profound affect on children.

We don’t need no education
We dont need no thought control
No dark sarcasm in the classroom
Teachers leave them kids alone
Hey! Teachers! Leave them kids alone!
All in all it’s just another brick in the wall.
All in all you’re just another brick in the wall.
—Pink Floyd

A free school can be a strange place if you are not used to it. And if you still carry desires of wanting in some way to conform to the old, than it can be a shock. And if you realistically find your self pulled in both directions, then you need to learn to surrender to trust. Not trust the system, because in reality, there is no system. But trust the child’s basic instinct to want to know their world. Maybe our role is to free them from that radio band I spoke of. Let them tune into themselves. If they are not reading early, leave them. They will eventually come to it by peer association. They see older kids reading, and some of those kids will be better teachers for them, then any Miss Crabtree (Little Rascals reference.)

My son is a prime example of what a free school can do for a child. For the last 5 years Noah has been playing. He plays from the moment he comes in the door until he leaves. He is always busy. What is not understood in this play is the social interaction that is going on. Boys and girls coming up with constructive ways to use their time. Sometimes they invent games in which they have to collaborate on what the rules will be. Sometimes he has an idea that he wants to work on alone, and as his adviser let me know recently, can spend hours working very intently on. Collaboration, team work, inventiveness, creativity and the realization of an idea. Isn’t this what we want for our society? Throughout these play times, he has learned about paranormal activity, he goes to classes on philosophy, he is studying aquatics and learning about history. He is extremely well spoken and has a fairly advanced vocabulary.

And suddenly he comes to me the other day and tells me he wants to study Egyptian history. I will remind you that he is 10. This is something that came out of pursuing his own interests. The need to know what he wants to know which will lead him to the next thing, which will open up further vistas of knowledge. And because we leave him alone (to some extent) he also has time to put this into the context of knowing himself. Feeling himself and how he wants to fit into this fucked up world we have all created.

Resistance is futile, but you can ignore it. Or will we all become part of the Borg.

Now we have to go to the Metropolitan Museum to check out the Egyptian displays.

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