from Natural Life Magazine, March/April 1995
The Natural Child Column
For Families Living Greener, Healthier Lifestyles
For The Children's Sake
Parents can bedangerous people. But “educators” are even more dangerous. Because
they are not deeply involved with the children in their care, they only have
petty interests showing through their pay.
For the children's sake, between the two evils, let's choose the lesser. As
parents – dangerous as we are – let us take the full responsibility for the
unfolding of our children. Let's not pass it on to others, because if we do,
there is no unfolding at all but the perpetuation of social catastrophe.
To take this responsibility is to refuse the split that occurs when, as
adults, we allow to filter between us and the child, the destructive thought
that the child must be this, must know that.
Obviously, so many adults cannot even conceive of the danger of this split
because they themselves are split up, fragmented, split with others, with their
children. And then, their children are objects to possess and to hold, to
control, to discipline, to fit into a pattern, a viscous dough to shape
according to a social ideal, which is an aberration in itself and a
contradiction in terms.
Schooling is essentially this split. Our kids are kidnapped for the best
hours of the day and dumped at four, exhausted, with all their wires crossed and
the message: “Take care of them, caretakers, because tomorrow there we go
again.” The child may say, “I don't want to go to school, dad.” He doesn't want
this split, this separation. He may cry and swallow his tears. But, of course,
if, as adults, we are used to hearing cries, if we ourselves are educators, if
we ourselves have taken up the ideology of separation and divorce, the ideology
of the should be, should know, we say, “That's a whim on your part. Come on. Get
to school!” But, if we do not follow this foul scheme and listen to our hearts,
we answer, “You're right. Stay home.”
“But then, what about his education?” And fear rides again. Homeschooling?
That is, bringing the school into the home? Bringing the school standards home
to try to make them more humane? Sugar-coating the pill? Breaking one's back off
to meet those “standards” and end up, exhausted, with about the same results? No
If, as human beings, we refuse the split between ourselves and those who have
come out of our living bodies, if we ourselves are emancipated enough to listen
to our children when they say they do not want to be treated like performing
dogs or caged monkeys, we then throw overboard all these “programs”, “norms”,
“tests” – all these instruments of torture of the human mind, and we embrace the
child...and life. And we listen.
We don't say anymore, “You have to know this at your age.” We break
completely with the should know, should be, should think,
should do. We leave them alone. We respect them. We see to their welfare,
well-being in the immediate present and thus, we become their accomplices. We
are together against everything, against everybody, if need be. And then
When children feel deep down that the adults they depend on for their
survival are not their jailers but their accomplices in the act of living, they
want to know everything, to learn about everything...but in good time, which is
quite reasonable. They open up like flowers in the sun. And with that, all
effort evaporates. Everything comes easily. Questions abound. And we answer all
their questions with humility because, in fact, we don't know much. And when
they come up with questions that have no answers, we share together the
Our children want to embrace the world, life, the universe and we hole them
in blockhouses with a clown juggling abstractions. Conditioned as they are in
school to be voyeurs through the abstraction of words and images, no wonder that
they are voyeurs of TV at home and vandals in the streets. The detention of our
children in schools is a crime against humanity. Our children are detained in
the name of education.
But what is this so-called education? It is, first and foremost, a lesson in
obedience. Subject matter is used to force submission. Imitate, conform and
submit. “If you don't know this, you'll never find a job.” We scare kids into
Now, it seems that in the bottom of our hearts, we feel that we weren't born
to be performing monkeys. (Drop-outs know this instinctively.) It seems that if
we're here for some reason, it's to be free. And the real freedom, the
fundamental freedom, is freedom from fear.
You have to start somewhere to break the infernal vicious circle of fear. And
the place is inside our own little selves. Individually. And once that is done,
the obvious is before us and we see clearly that if Mother Nature has been
generous enough to put children in our care, it is obvious that we won't submit
them to the reign of fear. So, we don't send them to school. We allow them to
unfold in freedom.
To take loving care of our children is to drop the dead weight of social
conformity. And we really feel the weight of this burden when we put it down. We
become refreshed, as light-hearted as children. We become their accomplices. We
trust our children. We stop deciding for them. We let them be. Totally. And
then, we discover in our children a feeling for truth stronger than any
so-called philosopher can have – a sense of justice that would make the Supreme
Court blush with shame, a sense of honesty that would make all politicians
shudder, a feeling for beauty that discards artistic expressions, a moral sense
that is firewater in the face of the “right-thinking” people, a generosity that
would put to shame the knights of old.
When we realize the potential for social change that seethes in children who
have not undergone the split, we understand why adult society, imbued with
greed, pettiness, submission and divisiveness, is so eager to shackle, through
its education system, the free agents that are our own children when they come
to live among us.
The author is a father, author, and activist
who lives in Quebec.