Today's Poetry Type:
Delving a Deeper Dare
A dabbling, delving deeper dare
Four lives spill over bright thought air
What matter which new treasure sparks
With each fresh thought energy arcs
Neurons are firing blazing marks
We read and write or stroll in parks
Of past long-gone, history harks
So many things learned in our larks
It looks like play, this life we share
Unless you see more purpose there.
There’s no doubt: the way we learn here doesn’t look like school.
It’s not intended to.
Many people don’t know this, but American public school was devised as a way to remove children from the workforce until they became adults – and, at the same time, to train them for the factories and other forms of manual, unskilled labor the working classes were assumed to be best suited for.
The goal was to condition them to for factory work (hence the beginning and ending times that don’t mesh with what current science tells us about how much, and when, adolescents need to sleep), and the bells and structured schedule that mimic work schedules of the nineteenth century, when schooling became mandatory.
It was also to give children the “right kind” of knowledge – enough that they could do the jobs employers wanted them for, but not so much that they might foment discord, or want to learn more than what the powers that be wanted them to have to be good, steady workers.
That’s not what we want for our kids. We want them to be fascinated by life, to understand that there’s depth and breadth beyond what can be held in books, that the people whose names survive in history were as real as they are – that they lived full lives, breathing, eating, drinking, loving, hating, burping and sleeping and making love and all the other parts of life.
That took the kids and I to the Saratoga National Historical Park last September. This is aRevolutionary War battlefield, and, after a brief stop at the Visitor’s Center, we downloaded an audio tour on my phone, and set out on the 9 mile tour road – exploring American and British lines, fortifications, and a farm home used as headquarters.
The narration brought the tour to life. As we hiked the rolling hills, we were reminded that the soldiers, mostly on foot, traversed these same hills, without the benefit of modern paved and maintained paths. Back then, the area was mostly wilderness – which is what made it a good place for the Colonial Army to attempt to hold the Hudson and prevent the British using it to cut off New York City, then the capital of the new nation.
Yes, they might have gone on a school trip, since the Battlefield is in our hometown. But they couldn’t have had the leisure to do it on a September Saturday, with the entire afternoon and the first part of the evening given over to exploring in their own way and in their own time. Or, several years ago, to spend a few hours there on the Fourth of July (schools aren’t open on Saturdays, or during the summer).