Monday, September 7, 2015

Iago's Virtue

 “Virtue! a fig! ’tis in ourselves that we are thus or thus. Our bodies are our gardens, to the which our wills are gardeners.”  -Iago

Home School Rant #2:  Select Your Socialization

I’ve had a lot of crummy jobs.  I’ve cleaned toilets, sorted vegetables on a factory belt, bucked hay, landscaped grass, humped warehouse boxes, tossed newspapers, worked a video store counter, pumped gas, and done in-store security.  I know the value of a hard days work.  One of the best things my father ever did was send my sister and I to the berry fields during summer vacation.  Up before dawn with the migrant workers to stand and freeze our fingers off in the dark, then burn our butts in the sizzling afternoon sun.  All for a couple bucks a day.  But the benefits paid off.  I’m as comfortable now on a flatbed truck as I am at a college podium, church pew or bar stool.  There’s wisdom in this:  Being a person with in foot in different worlds.
 “Why, the power and corrigible authority of this lies in our wills.”  -Iago

I used to think this logic carried into the classroom as well, that there was great benefit to pairing the future doctor and ditch digger together in a study group.  This was true American educational democracy, this perfect window of time in a magical classroom where it didn’t matter a student’s social class or family income or parent’s educational degree.  I believed in allowing students this experience, providing them an opportunity to learn from others of diverse backgrounds.  Boy… was I clueless!
 “We have reason to cool our raging motions, our carnal stings, our unbitted lusts.”  -Iago

After twenty years of teaching I can honestly say that the process of socializing students through a 12 year educational cycle is brutal.  The constant bullying, the ever present threat of personal violence, the enduring of overworked and over stressed educators pelting them with pointless and minuscule state-mandated tasks, the totalitarian adherence to discipline and rules, the marginalization of personality… and I taught at high performing schools!  Furthermore, gentle reader, I’m not even including my experience teaching overseas…with fanatical government testing and the social pressure for a 15 to 17 hour adolescent school day.  It’s no wonder the alarming suicide rate here that is directly connected to simply… forcing students to work together.
“If the balance of our lives had not one scale of reason to poise another of sensuality, the blood and baseness of our natures would conduct us to most preposterous conclusions.”  -Iago

I think of Iago.  Not every student has the capability to carry out their deepest desires or plans of attack.  Not every student has a heroic virtue inside them.  For most, when placed in an oppressed position, more often than not, the worst and most horrific side of people surface.   Yes, we can idealistically believe that our child will rise from this mire… but honestly most kids just sit and suffer and pray that it will end quickly and painlessly.  When a parent doesn’t have options, they tell their kid: "Suck it up!"  But… what if a parent does?  Perhaps picking and choosing your child’s “opportunity” to battle, is the higher wisdom.  We live in an age now where selecting your child's social group has such powerful results.  Pair them with other like-minded hobby enthusiasts, devout them to activities outside the school district, link them with families that share values.  Your child will grow up happier... and thank you for this.

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