Rejecting the Inner School

Some two-hundred-odd years since the launch of formalized education separating children from their families on a daily basis, we now live in a fully schooled culture.

Like fish in water though, we can’t see it’s effects.

As parents, most of us spent our key developmental years under the finely-tuned lenses of experts in classrooms far from our parents, far from meaningful, connected life, far from our dreams. Our entire family life revolved around the school calendar; our entire culture revolves around it now.

A life is too short for this.

As graduates of the system, we are still, dare I say it, dominated and ruled by a kind of inner-school that masters us and prompts fears of stepping out into ‘unproven’ places or wild spaces, often the very stuff that God designed us especially for. A schooled society hems us in and makes us slaves to peers, ideologies and methods that do little for us and much to harm us, stripping us of our identity, uniqueness and calling.

The ‘powers that be’ have determined what, when and how facts will be learned.  And we are the hoop jumpers; our main job? To cooperate without question. We are compelled to support the experts no matter what our hearts, our conscience, or our God whispers to us in the wide open spaces outside of the boxes.

On the surface, questions about education can revolve around what facts are deemed important to know, what methods will help a person get from point A to point B, and how experts can actively fill the minds of the little ones in their care. Sometimes, these questions even branch out into questions of socialization or meaning, but rarely does school contribute to these critical topics in a way that sets people free.

{Granted, there are many amazing, passionate teachers who desire to release children into their destinies; the intentions of excellent teachers, however, do not pull enough force to change the trajectory of an entire culture.}

Broadly speaking, a schooled society creates people with limited vision, who are generally more peer oriented and lack a great deal of the creative muster required to solve old problems with new solutions. A schooled society rarely turns out a brave person, and this may be one of my biggest criticisms.  It is far easier for ‘free’ government education to establish a docile, conformist population than to encourage it’s people towards freedom, faith and creative potential.

School has largely become a place of social indoctrination, having long ago left the arena of the “Three R’s”. It has now become the stand-in parent, aiming to establish the opinions of children, introducing cognitive dissonance on a massive scale, and hemming in free thought, especially in matters of the spirit.

But, we have been set free already; we’ve been given permission by our Creator to follow the uncommon way, as we listen to His voice moment by moment in the daily opportunities of real life together.

Why then do we allow schools and even their earnest shadows – homeschools – to rob us of so much of our vitality, passion, dreams, and hopes? Why do we strive so stoically to pack our children firmly into those same school-boxes with book work, testing, formulas and strategies that we ourselves are still so desperately trying to set ourselves free from?

The rigid mindset of the expert has left us parents feeling sorely lacking and ill-equipped at teaching and training and guiding our very own children. In a world full of nuanced individuals, how could it be that one educational behemoth system could possibly serve all the people? No, it is a useful tool for the elite to keep control, while we quietly whither under pressure, shame and fear.

“School prepares people for the alienating institutionalization of life, by teaching the necessity of being taught. Once this lesson is learned, people lose their incentive to develop independently.” -Ivan Illich

We were not made for institutionalized living. We were made to live free in God’s life; we have permission to live it and squeeze all the beauty and adventure and glory out of it – every last drop. If we refuse to jump through the hoops that men have designed for us, it will not deter God’s call on our lives if we step out in faith and explore the brilliant dreams that God has knit within us.

Is learning important? Growth? Questions? Discovery? Building skills? Taking risks?

Absolutely, yes! It is all so vital that it is far too important to allow a child to be cultivated in some plastic, formulaic way far from the keen eyes and sensitive souls of their very own parents who know them and God’s heart for them.

Is this stuff yucky to think about sometimes?  Is it painful to think that we’ve been lied to?  That a system has robbed us of our inheritance?  Of course.  But, we don’t stop there, because we are the brave.  We walk into the questions instead of skirting them, we walk forward in faith instead of comforting ourselves with the bitter dregs of fear.

We are raising a new generation – free from the shackles of an institution that does not love them or like them – to grow and blossom in the exuberant freedom of Spirit-life led by the sweet and tender voice of God.

Is there any better life than this?

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