Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Little Bunnies College Preparatory Preschool

This just in! A National Association of Independent School conference for administrators  reported that since “private school consumers (parents) do not understand the term ‘independent’ school, NAIS is now encouraging all schools to describe themselves as “college preparatory schools.”

What a great idea! Consumers (ie, Parents) aren’t nearly anxious enough about whether the corporate institution (ie, School) and their Learning Technician Employees (ie, Teachers) are preparing their customers (ie, Children) for Corporation Preparatory School (ie, College), so I agree that the CEO’s (ie, Principals) should change all titles effective immediately. They should also begin building the portfolio resumes of their three-year old customers and document their sand-castle building, fingerpainting and cooperation in the nap room to beef up their curriculum vitae and begin the college application process. It’s never too early to induce stress, anxiety, fear of failure and other such tactics that insure that Laisha and Tyler will understand early on that there is no time in this life for curiosity, questioning, exploring, investigating, celebrating or enjoying the present moment when your future is at stake. No time to be a three-year old—get to work! So by the time you’re ten, you’ve completed your college visits and just might be on the road to getting into a college that can aim you toward Retirement Preparatory School (ie Work). Then if you’re lucky, you can get into the Afterlife Preparatory School (ie, Old Age Home) to get through the Pearly Gates and then, you can finally enjoy the moment at hand. Or if you’re Hindu or Buddhist, you go to Rebirth Preparatory School and step back on the wheel of always-preparing, but never-arriving, once again.

People, people! Have we gone mad? Has NAIS not seen the Race to Nowhere film? Have they considered that they can explain to parent that Independent Schools means independence from the mindless bureaucracy that has effectively strangled just about any possibility of effective teaching in public schools? Might "Independent" mean that private schools have the luxury to choose the kind of community they want to create to genuinely serve children’s needs? 

And don’t misunderstand me here. That luxury, one I have enjoyed for over three decades, is born from a privilege that is not to be taken lightly. All the more reason to use that responsibility to model the kind of place all schools could and should become, whether private, public, home-schooled or out on a bus traveling around the world. Using corporate language (those parent consumers) to describe a spiritual undertaking (and I defy you to find me an enterprise more spiritual than the raising of children) is bad enough, but jumping into the Race to Nowhere with both feet and advising all independent schools to follow is…well, why beat around the bush? …insane!

Meanwhile, I just finished my three-day course in Japan filled with so many moments of breathtaking beauty that I’m lucky I’m not in the aesthetic asthma ward. Then I showed slides of the SF School kids in the Spring Concert and asked the teachers to comment:

“They look so happy! They’re so concentrated and focused. They’re so alive and alert. They’re so connected with each other. They look so happy!” And that simply means that instead of burdening them with stress and worries about their future college preparation, we’ve simply let them be kids. And given them a few fabulous tools for expressing their joy yet one notch higher.

Behind on my entries here, but with an early morning flight to India tomorrow morning, I’ll hope for a catch-up when I can, complete with a grateful farewell to this remarkable place. 

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