This September the school bell rang for my son for the first time and since then our life has started to revolve around school and education. So far we are managing well and so far we’ve been happy about it. That said, school life can be a source of anxiety for parents and children I can be a very anxious parent but I have learnt that my son does not thrive with my anxiety (who does?). It’s the positive and optimistic sort of leadership that carries him through transitions. It’s not about dismissing his fear, but about giving him a reassuring smile and many, many words of comfort. What helps me as a parent is the reminder I give to myself that education does not start or end at school. It happens with every human connection that we make.
Have you watched Tea with Mussolini, a film by Franco Zeffirelli? The film is about a group of cultured ladies who meet for tea somewhere in Florence and who take it upon themselves to raise and educate a young boy called Luca. Luca is lucky. Not only because there is an artist, a singer and an archeologist among the women, but primarly because there is a great sense of duty, companionship, trust and care shown by the women, and the conviction that they can raise the boy up well if they do it together. Following the ladies and joining them in their pursuits and favourite pastimes, the boy receives an exemplary education. The ladies are not trying to create or recreate any educational system. They are just themselves and they show the boy what they love most themselves. In that way they become the most convincing teachers the boy could possibly have.
Seth Godin, an American author and entrepreneur (being interviewed by Marie Forleo in an incredibly interesting interview that you can find here), asks questions about the purpose of schooling and explains what satisfies his idea of good and useful education: “Coming home with straight A’s is fine, I’ll accept that, but what I’d rather have you do is come home and tell me something amazing that you learned in the spirit of doing something good for someone else, come home and tell me some really dramatic failure that occurred as you were trying to solve an interesting problem.” It’s not the knowledge that’s given on the plate but the one that’s gained through engagement and experiences that is emphasised here. Unique to each human being. Proportional to the involvement each of us has in every small little task we encounter through life.
Of course, this is just a short note on the vast topic of education and I am not making a breakthrough here, but I really love what Seth Godin had to say and I love when communities take responisbility for educating children too. Schools cannot do it on their own.
Do you feel the same?