The School’s Most Important Function! Schools Are “Outed”! (Part 1)
In the beginning of this year, the world faced a health crisis with the Coronavirus pandemic. In an effort to contain the spread of the disease, most public gatherings were banned including the complete shuttering of schools of every kind. This, of course, did not affect home educators who were already at home, but it did curtail outside extra-curricular activities.
There was a great deal of consternation over the decision to shut down every school in the province, indeed in the entire country, yet there was a lot to be learned from the experience. It provided an opportunity to re-evaluate or question what education, school and learning are all about.
I will be dedicating the next few blogs to addressing some of the things we gleaned from having all the students of the entire country go “home schooling”.
The first lesson learned came from the immediate reaction to shutting down the schools. I had actually seen this behaviour before. During my last year as a public high school teacher, I found myself caught in a labour dispute that ended with a strike against my employing school board.
What proved reminiscent to me was that the greatest concern that parents had, respecting the closure of the schools, was the same as that during the strike of 2002. In both cases, education proved not to be of top priority, but rather the greatest concern was what parents would do with the children if they could not be sent to school.
Quoting from one of dozens of media articles during the pandemic school closures, one can see this primary concern expressed, if paying close attention. The article said that “Public education is the bedrock of a fair and prosperous society.” Okay, but one can be excused for seeing this as rather unclear as it does not address why it is “bedrock.” The following sentence in the article does bring some clarification.
It continues with, “Without it, the economic participation of the one-in-three Canadians with school-aged children is compromised.” What is meant by “economic participation”? Why, that would probably be some vague term for a “job” or “work.”
So, without school, one in three parents that have school aged children and are working will have their “job” compromised. In other words, by not going to school, the children will find themselves in the way, disturbing or compromising the parent’s work.
There doesn’t appear to be much concern for the children’s learning or academic progress in the article. Indeed, while it states that it is the parents who are being compromised, nothing is said respecting how the children are affected. The problem was presented as one of denying working parents the babysitting service that schools have become.
Combining the tendency to start school at increasingly younger ages, including play school, preschool and kindergarten, with the compulsory attendance to age sixteen, one should be able to see that as long as a student may need adult supervision, there will be a venue in which to place them, namely schools.
In provinces where the government has daycare provision, it has been implemented through to the existing school system. This should not come as a surprise. Just look at what parents generally had to say about the pandemic school closures.
It should be obvious that from the parents’ perspective, the school’s primary function is not the education of children. Sadly, many parents are more likely to see schools as a free baby-sitting, child-care or daycare service that allows them to do more important things than raising, training and teaching their children.
Perhaps this has something to do with how the world has become what it is, today. Even more important, let’s apply this knowledge to why we need to educate our children at home.
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