I visited my friend and colleague Alejandra last Thursday morning.
Sane people would have taken around 5 hours to process the enormous amount of information we exchanged. But we both work in education, so we pushed contents forward and fit the whole thing into intense 90 minutes, before the bell rang.
Time and again I directed the conversation towards free education. I can´t help it. Since I have memory I feel an urge for change. For transformation. I can almost visualize the image of a renewed humanity born from the re-education of adults learning to allow the self-education of infants. As if a revolutionary spirit would revolve within my self, frustrated and satisfied concurrently… Much has been seen and said, but I sense much more has to be done yet!
It would be easier not to feel like this, but I do.
Then I came back home to pick up my husband and our youngest child. We needed to drive him to a health center. He got bitten by a cat, which is stuff for another post to warn you why you should not allow your child to caress stranger cats. But that would drive me off the story and since our boy is ok there´s nothing to really worry about.
So, now we are in the car and Ricardo asks me how did the visit to my friend go.
– You can´t imagine!… She has been working in public infant education for 25 years. She tells me… the little ones, from 1 and 2 years old are asked to sit at the table with their hands held in their backs, while teachers place the materials to “work” with in front of them – I can almost see the image I am describing; innocent children handcuffed in the back in some kind of concentration camp camouflaged by good intentions. The one who moves hands, is the bad guy, the one that misbehaves. They are so automated that by K5 they do it by themselves, she says… no one has to tell them.
I sense within an emerging indignation that ignites while I speak… Is perchance a sin to move little hands around? This is so far from what I dream infant education to be… I am outraged and my disapproval is evidently expressed in the pitch of every word I say.
Unexpectedly, from the rear of the car reaches us the soft voice of our 5 years old boy:
– Yeah mom, but it is not as bad, you know?
– Do YOU have to put your hands in the back when you sit at the table at school???
– Yes, but I don’t mind, he wisely answers. It is just like keeping them still on your lap.
Our little boy is far from being automated, flattened by education, destroyed in his uniqueness… He is far, far from that. He is one of the most self-determined people I know, if not the most one. But he knows how to lay his hands on his back without further psychic damage.
Then I ask myself. I ask my self. I ask myself.
Am I exaggerating?
I would like to end this post with this question. Right here.
But I can´t.
I am not pretending you to give me an answer… if I do exaggerate, if I don´t… I am not expecting anything from you (even though I would definitely appreciate your comments).
I want to throw this question within, let it resound and observe wherefrom its echoes resurge.
Am I exaggerating with my vision of actual education? I ask my self and wait…
I am what I am, I am not going to tell little children to lay their hands on their backs. But I believe I can give me the chance to lower my hypersensitivity and look at formal education with better eyes.
The Education… I imagine her as a distinguished lady, standing in front of me, no age or time yet as old as humanity itself. I look at her in the eyes and new words surge from my lips…
– Education, until today I was bound to you by my anger, my desire for you to be different. Now I see you and accept you as you are… I take what you have for me and that is enough… I wasn´t able to acknowledge you before. I apologize for that… And I thank you.
She is standing there, calmly looking at me. She smiles, in glowing eyes.
I feel the desire to go closer. We hug.
Me from underneath her arms, she embraces me over my shoulders: I feel her generous hands surrounding my back.
I feel sheltered, I am a little one.
I am free.
Thereby, fueled by a new inner force I turn and look into the future, towards my own destiny.
If there is to be the revolution, so be it.
Photos by Julia Margaret Cameron (1815-1879).