February 4, 2010

Ami asks, "Do you ever wonder if the effort you put forth to grow your children into decent, caring, compassionate adults will make them less able to deal?  ...I have worked really hard to give my children the gifts of compassion and caring. I just wonder if the world will treat them badly because of that."

Thank you for voicing that question here.  I think decent caring compassionate adults who think analytically, who are mentally flexible and creative, are well set to handle life's challenges.  In fact, I think that children who are raised, full time, in an atmosphere of respect and good cheer will be far less likely to accept bad treatment when they are grown.  Personally, when my children start dating and working in the world I want them to be keenly sensitive to assholes.  And when they encounter assholes, I want them to feel shocked.  I want them to feel compassionate.  And I want to them to turn an abrupt about face and go find another date or another job.  I don't want to raise children who are numb or who expect to work with jerks all day.  I want to raise children who expect to be treated well.    I think, quite often in life, people will treat you as well as you are used to being treated.  How harsh is that?

Most of us were raised like feedlot cattle in school - most children still are.  What does this prepare them for?

My children can tell you one of my rules of life.  Never Tolerate Bad Teachers, there are too many great teachers in this world to waste your time with bad ones.  I hope they extrapolate that rule into their working adult lives and their relationships.  Will they be pansies, to tender and whimpy to handle jerks?   Well, my daughter is ferocious.  Like a wildcat who chooses to use her soft claws.  My son is very gentle.  But he's also going to be about 6'2" and smart as a dang whip.  (They both are.)  So, I guess, no I don't worry about the world punishing their sensitivity.

I've just reread John Taylor Gatto's essay: The Six Lesson School Teacher.  I am considering breaking that whole thing down and writing point by point blog posts here in homage.  I am so moved by this essay.  I think every parent should read it.  Anyhow, here is a passage I think is pertinent.  I want my children sensitive and compassionate but well grounded in their own sense of self.

"In lesson five I teach that your self-respect should depend on an observer's measure of your worth. My kids are constantly evaluated and judged. A monthly report, impressive in its precision, is sent into students' homes to spread approval or to mark exactly -- down to a single percentage point -- how dissatisfied with their children parents should be. Although some people might be surprised how little time or reflection goes into making up these records, the cumulative weight of the objective- seeming documents establishes a profile of defect which compels a child to arrive at a certain decisions about himself and his future based on the casual judgment of strangers.
Self-evaluation -- the staple of every major philosophical system that ever appeared on the planet -- is never a factor in these things. The lesson of report cards, grades, and tests is that children should not trust themselves or their parents, but must rely on the evaluation of certified officials. People need to be told what they are worth."


Katherine said...

Bobbi from Mississippi or Lori from Muncie, its obvious you are the same person. And here you call yourself "anonymous." Get a self and then we can talk. Or better yet, get a blog and teach me why I'm wrong. On your own blog you could share with us all the wonders of institutional school. Teach us why its great. Tell what its done for you and your children. Share your thoughts with the world. I might learn something valuable that way. In any case, until you are brave enough to own your actual persona, you won't have a forum here. I will be deleting your comments from now on.

Katherine said...

By the way, I have your IP address.
Didn't they teach you about that in school?

MOM #1 said...

So funny you posted this today . . . or that I read it today.

I'm working on a research paper on John Taylor Gatto for school right now. Is that an oxymoron to research JTG for school, since he's so opposed to school? Who knows.

Katherine said...

Mom #1, that is so cool! I'm going to go check your blog. I hope you post the paper there. I would love to read it. Also, way to go, going back to school! :o)