In winter I get up at night
And dress by yellow candle-light.
In summer quite the other way,
I have to go to bed by day.
I have to go to bed and see
The birds still hopping on the tree,
Or hear the grown-up people’s feet
Still going past me in the street.
And does it not seem hard to you,
When all the sky is clear and blue,
And I should like so much to play,
To have to go to bed by day?
Bed in Summer, Robert Louis Stevenson
This summer I have endeavored to join the ranks of esteemed colleagues all over the country to forgo the usual time off in the teacher world and to enlighten the young pupils starving for intellectual greatness.
That's right. Summer school.
Or, as my current board of education puts it, “Summer Intensive Studies.” But don’t let my description or the name fool you, it is neither great nor is it intellectual, heck, it ain't even studious.
What is it then?
Short answer, it is a device, with a screen, that magically teaches.
Long answer? They log in, take quizzes, tests, view lessons, and if they do that swiftly enough in just 20 days they can make up as much as four entire semesters of traditional schooling in the four core subjects. The scale of absurdity is amazing.
When it comes to summer, and what summer should be for, I have to shudder a bit at this crew coming up through the ranks. They aren't free people. Whether they are enslaved to a device or to an ideology or even sin, they are not I repeat - a free people.
You see, I grew up in the last but dying golden age of a secure home. The revolution hadn’t made it to the small towns or country by the late 80’s early 90’s.
Sure I was a latch key kid. Sure my folks argued at times. Sure I barely passed a few classes myself. Sure I was tempted at a young age to do somewhat youthful and nonsensical or perhaps dangerous things.
But it was a free childhood.
The country, at that point, was on life support. Aged and gray and looking hardly familiar to its once vigorous youth, it was in the last stages of a materialist and relativist takeover, the end was nigh.
I say all that, to say this.
We must base education in freedom. That's a good reason to call a venerable and persevering form of educating the liberal arts, because educating a child should liberate a child. But this essay is not to go to “bat” for a return to a classical form, I will allow far more educated and experienced people to lift that load.
No, this essay is just an encouragement to note the simplicity of educating a child in freedom.
I hold three things dear to a child’s freedom, and feel these are necessary for a child to understand freedom’s importance and in turn, have a healthy expectation of it as an adult.
They must know how to read. Yes, reading on grade level is a good target. But for this we want them to freely find interesting things to read, enjoy reading, and set their imagination free with stories. After all, the Greatest Story, the Gospel, is what every Christian should aspire to and the Word was indeed made flesh and He used very simple and striking language. What is more free than living as a child of God?
Secondly, children must be given a chance to roam. Whether you have to bring them to a place far from the maddening crowds for a time, or you are blessed by the Almighty with a chance to own actual real property, a child must be free to go the direction they want for a bit. Whether on wheels, or by foot. Sans shoes or fully shod. They must recreate in the world at large, so they may re-create it one day in His order.
Lastly, and most important, a child’s imagination should be his own. Obviously, it ultimately belongs to God. But, what I mean is, that the child should retain control of his faculties and engage them healthily as much as he wants everyday. This is that ever illusive “critical” thinking the progressive educators in the know constantly pine for. The problem is that their model isn’t based on “thinking for yourself.” Instead, it is based on “think how I want you to think.”
No. That isn’t good enough for our kids.
They deserve better.
Turn it all off, every device.
Go outside, read books, ride bikes, and maybe go take a hike.
Most of that is free except for your time, but if you play your cards right, you’ll get tenfold someday.
1st - stock, APPLE desktops ca. 1994
2nd - Blessed Karl, his three oldest, recreating penniless, in exile - courtesy of Emperor Charles League