Sunday, January 16, 2011

let's vote on it.

Wow I have been so lazy lately. Seriously this is bad. I haven't posted in a week. A week. I so need to get on top of this shit. Which is part of the problem I guess. I'm just all over the place. Packing up my house because we are moving has taken up a pretty large chunk of time. But it has also been totally cathartic. And I'm trying to decide about being pre-med and totally changing the life plan I was working with. Geez. And I totally need to go back to school because I feel like my brain is melting because it hasn't worked in so long. I miss Wellesley.

Speaking of school I heard a really good episode of This American Life (aren't they all amazing though?) the other day about schooling and education. Normally I don't think educational issues are extremely compelling, though I'm considering being a teacher, but the TAL talked about a "free school" in Brooklyn and I reminded me of The Summerhill School in England. I first stumbled upon Summerhill through, what else?, Harry Potter. Basically the girl who played Lavender Brown was in a mini-series about Summerhill and the scandal that surrounded the school. The series was good, not the best I've seen, but really made me admire the school. And the aesthetics were gorgeous, very dreamy and hazily (a real word?) sunny, kinda Sofia Coppola-like.

Summerhill was founded in 1921 by A.S. Neill, a Scottish educator who advocated personal freedom for children. The founding principle, "Freedom not License", led to a democratic community of both children and adults in which individuals could voice their opinion and it would be heard. Neill believed that while even children should have the right to do as they wish, respect would be the highest law. The students and faculty together vote on the rules and punishments if necessary. And the students don't have to go to class if they want. Doesn't that just sound kinda awesome?

I certainly understand the outcry of people saying that the school is too liberal, but for some I feel like it really would be the right choice. My parents gave me a lot of freedom as a child (not as much as at Summerhill of course) and from that I've gained a sense of independence from which I make my own decisions. The peer pressure and rebellion that so many teenagers succumb to has never gained a hold on me.

And you would get to decide what you are passionate about. You wouldn't have to take the bullshit classes that didn't genuinely interest you.

One interesting question TAL raised was the after-effects of going to a school like Summerhill. You are taught so much about equality and fairness that when you leave the (metaphorical, obviously) cocoon, you become disillusioned by the strict hierarchical structure of the outside world. Going to a normal school with normal rules you are already past the stage where these things might anger you.

While I think about becoming a teacher I definitely keep this philosophy in mind. I wish more of my teachers had employed this method through my schooling, and those that did I really remember quite fondly. I guess that's why I'm thinking about becoming a teacher in the first place, so a new generation of kids will have the kind of teacher that they will think back on and say, "Wow, that class was like super duper amazing". Or something along those lines.

p.s. There is now a link to my sporadically updated tumblr on the sidebar. Or if you are that lazy you can just click here.

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