I’m editing this post a couple of days after writing it; I found it hard to find the motivation to finish editing it before. A lot of synchronicities seem to be pushing me to get this article published.
This story really happened and I wrote it down as best as I could remember a couple of hours after. I had a really strong inspiration to do so and wrote it down as fast as possible. I couldn’t let myself sleep till I’d done so. Looking back over it, somehow I think it speaks a lot more than most of my more abstract philosophical pieces.
I was walking with my girlfriend today. We came up to the door of our house. At this point, the conversation become so intense that we stopped what we were doing. We just stood in the street and looked each other in the face as we talked.
This happened because we had touched upon a topic which makes me almost unspeakably passionate sometimes: school. Frustration rose in me as I couldn’t understand why Roser didn’t seem to see things as I did.
And with this, I came back to an old broken record of anger. Old thoughts I’d repeated in my head over and over, unresolved. But expressing to Roser, I could help resolve them.
“I don’t know why you don’t see things the way I do,” I was saying. “It’s like I’ve had these thoughts inside for so long, and for so long I doubted my own sanity in a way. But NO,” — imagine these words said with a fiery intensity — “I found other people who understood things the way I did and I could see they were more sane than average people. And I could see Iwas more sane than an average person. And then I read books which explained things in such a perfect breakdown, such an immaculate criticism that you could see that it’s a FACT that the modern education system is wrong. It’s all fact! And I couldn’t believe why no one could understand me when I said these things, these things that seemed, well, just OBVIOUS!”
Roser seemed a little taken aback with my intensity. I continued, sensitive about not making her feel hurt, but wanting to be heard. I wanted to get this all out, get the argument right this time. Unassailable.
“It’s OBVIOUS that school is NOT about real education. It’s about learning to be obedient. It’s OBVIOUS because — point ONE. School FORCES you to do things. A real learning institute wouldn’t force. It would be at YOUR service, not you at ITS service.
“WHY – would ANYONE – FORCE you to do what’s in your own best interests? This is ALL you need to look at to know school is NOT about learning. There’s NO excuse! If a child wants to learn he should and CAN learn by his own impulse! WHY FORCE? What good could force possibly do?”
Roser said, “But sometimes kids might not know what’s best for themselves. It’s a parent’s or a teacher’s place to exercise some control.”
“That’s a justification, an excuse! Kids either do what’s good for themselves or they don’t. It’s NO-ONE’s place to tell ANYONE what to do. If you use stick and carrot on people you take away their own ability to exercise their own power and responsibility. You make them your slaves, dependent on you and childlike forever, unable to make a decision for themselves. It’s just OBVIOUS, just common sense! I don’t even need to explain this!” I was so angry, so passionate. Roser heard me out.
“And number 2, if you want to learn something you choose what to learn, when to learn it! What is the use of learning all of that mixed subject bullshit? How can it make sense to LET SOMEONE ELSE DECIDE WHAT IS GOOD FOR YOU TO LEARN? HOW CAN ANYONE KNOW BETTER THAN YOU WHAT OR HOW MUCH TO LEARN? It makes no sense if school is about learning. It makes sense if school is about learning to obey an external authority.”
“And number 3, why the HELL are twenty years of your life given to this? You give 20 years of your life to something you didn’t choose, something someone else chose for you? This is GENOCIDE! Even if you are lucky enough to come back to life after those 20 years, you have done 20 years of your life in which you have not done anything you’ve wanted to. You’ve spent most of your time doing something you didn’t believe in, and if you lived your passion it was the exception and not the rule. You have been murdered for 20 years of your life. This is GENOCIDE and NO ONE COULD SEE THIS!
“WHEN I WAS IN SCHOOL I WAS SO ANGRY BECAUSE NO ONE COULD SEE THIS! I BOTTLED UP ALL THESE FEELINGS BECAUSE I COULDN’T EXPRESS THIS TO ANYONE! And it seems like even you don’t understand!”
“I do understand,” said Roser. “But I didn’t feel I was dead all the time. I had my mother. When both of your parents work and you’re seemingly brought up by the school, that really is being dead. And I came home crying some times because I didn’t want to go to school, but it was not the only thing I had.”
“Well perhaps this is what makes me so affected by it, that I didn’t have much else at all.
“And you know what else,” I said. “I was SO angry at people because they didn’t see this stuff. Or – maybe they did. But they didn’t really CARE somehow.” I was so passionately angry I could barely force the words out of my lips. But actually this wasn’t the most angry I’d gotten. This was just an echo of the fury I’d experienced.
“They didn’t CARE. They just wanted to live their life, do what was easy. But it’s like -” fury rose in me – “It’s BLACK AND WHITE. IN THIS MATTER, it’s BLACK and WHITE. If something is THIS WRONG, you just stop doing it. You stop going to school. You stop putting your energy into this!”
“You’re scaring me a little,” said Roser, though with a certain amount of humour.
“I know how I must sound, but I need to get this out. I just want you to recognise my feelings. I just want to get them out and for someone to recognise them so I can let them go. Otherwise they are destroying me from the inside.
“It’s black and white. You stop doing it. This wasn’t orchestrated just by evil people in power. School exists because people don’t care enough to change it – they just look out for themselves, let the system shape their lives because that’s what’s easiest for them. They do it because through inaction they support the system.
“EVERY – SINGLE – ONE – OF – THEM – WAS – TAKING – PART – IN – GENOCIDE! All because they just don’t care that much! But they are scared of – I don’t know what, because they walk right into the worst case scenario in an attempt to avoid their worst fear. There is nothing worse than this. How can they not see this? How can they accept things as they are?”
Roser said something like, “But you choose who you spend your time with. These people are dumb, yes, and so are lots of people. We could change the world right now if everyone just chose to do something as one. All of the people in my workplace could take the money which we deserve rather than making our bosses rich if we just decided to say ‘enough is enough’. But they don’t because they’re scared. But you can’t be angry at them for that, because we can choose who we relate with.”
I said, “I guess I didn’t see that back then when I filled myself up with so much anger. Because I really thought I was alone.”
Changing The World
At some point in my tirade against school she had said, “Yes, school is wrong, but it’s not so easy as all that. It can’t just be changed in an instant.”
To which I had said, “I know. But it will be changed a few years faster, at least, seeing I am in this world.”
Roser said, “I had thought of becoming a teacher in a Waldorf school* you know. But I chose not to in the end, it didn’t seem to be my path.”
*Waldorf schools are more enlightened learning institutions.
I said, “No, I don’t think it’s our place to be cogs in machines – not even cogs in better machines. We’re the leaders of the new consciousness. We’re leaders, Roser, we have to have our own projects, create new things. We each have our own visions and it’s up to us to find the highest expression for those visions, reach the most people.”
Roser smiled and said her vision was to help people understand the concept of sharing and to take each other’s needs into account. I said I liked that vision.