Jun 30, 2015

An unorganized childhood

I’m not much of an organizer, I don’t believe in organizing and structuring every moment of a child’s life.

Being outside the school system gives me an opportunity to observe the families and children around me as well as contemplate on what I’m seeing in my child, as she grows from day to day.

I realize that the most important questions are seldom asked and they can’t be subtracted from our roles as parents. Where are we going? Who are we? Why are doing whatever we are doing? Are we content, calm, united inside? Are we raising happy children? I try to see through these questions wherever I go, wherever I am, whatever I am doing.

The social structure can be dominating and limiting, especially in a country, like Greece, where people are not as open-minded as we think we are. Most children’s lives are mostly planned as soon as they come into the world, and continue to be so throughout their childhood, teenage years and even throughout their adult lives.

Speaking to a 17 year old the other day, he was telling me, matter of factly, that “he will marry and have his own family one day”, without giving what he said a second thought. How can a 17 year old have such a future already planned out for himself? His whole attitude sounded like a parrot mimicking the adults around him. He didn’t realize this.

People seem to be afraid of “free time”, unstructured time, unplanned time. They seem to think that its time wasted or not up to the expectations. Whose? Yes, children play, but only if and when they don’t have anything else to do. That involves many things, from school, private lessons, extra tuition, organized parties, organized trips, organized holidays, preplanned weeks, months, lives.

There is a fear of freedom. We like to have everything planned out, organized and structured. Children get into this mode very quickly and very effectively. It might seem like an irrelevant detail (nothing is for me) but I am always surprised when my daughter asks other children what their favorite color is and they answer "green". She doesn't know why, because she is unprogrammed, but I know, as it shows, that they are supporters of a football team. From age 5, 6, 7? Why? When did they stop seeing color?

Very often, when children are left with no structure or when the family plans change or fall apart, you can hear them nag and become demanding, as they are bored and don’t know what to do with themselves and their time…which was never theirs in the first place to think about, imagine or create.

It’s amazing, but children are not allowed to think for themselves. Most of them loose their vivid imaginations very soon in their lives. Thinking creatively scares parents as much, as the fear of unparenting often accompanies unschooling. Unschooling? It’s a term totally unknown in Greece, never mind discussed or given a second thought to.

As much as I can understand that, I fail to understand the lack of attention to what IS going on, what children in the educational system are REALLY achieving, what their structured lives are ACTUALLY giving them. First we have to realize what IS, then we can start looking for alternatives. Never before!

People are obsessed with the future only when they don’t want to realize the present, only when they don’t want to look at what they ARE doing, what effect this has on them, what it’s getting them, what it’s leaving them with. That's why the most frequent question I am asked in Greece, "what will she do 20 years from now" or "when she wants to go to University?"

Yet, we delay gratification, happiness, contentment, fulfillment, assuming that all this is coming, sometime in the future, only when we want to remain ignorant, fearful and attached to the known reality we have become accustomed to. But what are we creating as a society?

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