Anarchy & the EYLF Pirates

Refuse. Resist. Rebuild.

What if…?

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We love the idea that early childhood education can change the world.

Sometimes we let sneak through a suggestion that it can make the world a more equal place. Programs like Head Start, arguments based on looking at the impact of education on disadvantaged children, these slide too easily from being things we do so all children can experience equally good education, to things we do under the illusion that better education will lead to more equality in the world.

It can’t.

Not that way.

No matter how well we educate every child, in the end we are delivering them into a world that is stratified and unequal. They cannot all succeed. When they all get put on that normal curve, there are winners and losers.

In my experience, children are quite cluey about whether the odds are with them. I believe children who turn their attention away from schooling often do so with instinctive understanding of how this thing works.

What if learning to deal with oppression is actually quite a functional response to the world?

We often find it easy to be critical of people who say ‘they are going to have to learn to (sit still/hold a pencil/do meaningless colouring in/fill in boring worksheets) at school so they need to start now’. ‘No!’, we cry ‘Let them have their freedom!’ ‘Don’t crush their creativity!’ ‘Let school be the place to change!’.

But what if your experience is that school does not change. What if your experience is that school is something that has to be endured. And then work is something that has to be endured. What if your experience is that children~people need quite deep reserves of endurance to cope with the amount of boring crap they have to do and have no way of resisting.

Maybe, then, it is quite functional to learn the emotional self-control you need to cope with being oppressed and not hit out at your oppressor. I watched To Kill a Mockingbird the other day. And I was struck by how much self-control it took for the black people in that community not to riot.

Maybe, when people ask us to give children practice in doing some school thing, one thing they are asking is for those children to have a chance to learn how to cope with the feelings they get when they don’t want to do something, and they are forced to do it anyway.

 

© Grainne O’Malley 2013

Anarchy and the EYLF Pirates

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One comment on “What if…?

  1. Pirate wannabe
    February 21, 2014

    I’ve just discovered your blog and I love love love it!

    As for this piece, well I was with you for the first half esp. this:

    “In my experience, children are quite cluey about whether the odds are with them. I believe children who turn their attention away from schooling often do so with instinctive understanding of how this thing works.”

    There are many children school does not serve well – often they are the ones that could have done with a little more help and understanding – it is no wonder they feel they are better off clear of it.

    But that’s where we part…

    “But what if your experience is that school does not change. What if your experience is that school is something that has to be endured. And then work is something that has to be endured…”

    What if kinder/preschool was one place that did not have to be ‘endured’? I have no power to change school practices many of which I consider to be inappropriate and self-defeating but I do have the power to reject such practices for the children in my care. I am determined, to the best of my ability, that I shall create a place of freedom, understanding, flexibility and kindness, if for no other reason than that children deserve to know that such things can exist. If school wants to crush that, so be it, but don’t expect me to participate!

    “And I was struck by how much self-control it took for the black people in that community not to riot.”

    Self-control? Or the passivity of the beaten and oppressed? I would teach my children to question authority, to speak their mind, to protest and yes even to riot before I would teach them to endure.

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This entry was posted on December 20, 2013 by in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , .
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