intro to 1st draft

I think I needed to get some of this off my chest! I don’t think it will end up in my essay, but I needed to say it for myself regardless…

As I sit here pondering learning and schooling, play and work, dogs and otters and humans, I realize that school has been much on my mind for most of my life. As a young child I was fairly oblivious to where my older siblings went when they were not home with me and my mother. I remember specifically missing my nearest brother who started school just one year before me, but I don’t remember thinking much about where he was or what he might be doing. I do remember the anxiety I experienced at 5 years old, understanding that I was to be gone from home each day too, and how extreme that anxiety became upon being left at school by my mother, who had been my companion every day of my life. Why was she leaving me here? I didn’t understand. I often joke when talking about school with friends that it was all downhill for me after Kindergarten. Upon looking back, Kindergarten was certainly the high point (thanks to the lovely, sweet and kind Mrs. Kohl) but being home was the real high point, life at play without school bells or wooden desks, when story time was any time I wanted to pick up a book, and recess was whenever I happened to look outside and have a tree or a butterfly or a flower call me to come out and play. Starting from that first day of Kindergarten and ending only when I graduated from high school, I can’t imagine how many times I asked my mother one of the following: 1) Why do I have to go to school? 2) Do I have to go to school today? 3) Can I please stay home today? Or, when desperate: 4) Mom, I think I’m sick. I bring all of this up not to trash on schools, but to start a discussion that will eventually include learning, play, enlightenment, and…well…the meaning of life for lack of a better way to put it. Because if we’re going to talk about  learning, we need to address schools. And if we’re going to talk about schools we need to address their purpose. And if we’re going to talk about the purpose of schools we’re going to talk about children: what we want for the children in our lives and in the world, and why we should send them to spend so many hours in a public institution sitting behind a desk, when not that long ago children did no such thing. So I won’t go into the history of public schooling, and won’t detail the common school practices that have nothing to do with learning and everything to do with training, for many authors and researchers and educators have done a thorough job of this over the past several decades. But I will touch on schools  simply because they are the common experience of so many, and because they are generally referred to as the standard on how children behave and how they learn.


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