Last night, I noticed a spike in my traffic. Ever curious, I traced it to a comment someone had left on Mr Money Mustache. I’d never heard of the dude, but from my cursory examination of his blog, I’d probably like him. For instance, he’s big into badassity, which seems real similar to something we’re into. Furthermore, he writes with enviable cogence and wit about money and all things associated, albeit from the perspective of radically different lifestyle choices.
Indeed, the specific piece of his that prompted the comment linking to this space was about education, called “If I ran the school, things would be different,” and it got me thinking a bit this morning about what my school would look like, were I to be so naive as to embark upon such a venture. Which I’m not, so don’t worry: The children of America are safe from my nefarious influence. Well, all but two of them, anyway.
Without further ado, inspired by MMM, my version of “If I ran the school, things would be different,” which I have taken the liberty of retitling “If I ran the friggin’ school, you can better friggin’ believe things would be real friggin’ different. Got that?”
1. If I ran the school, incoming students aged 5 and above would be issued a fixed blade belt knife, a sharpening stone, and a box of bandages (We actually gave our boys knives at age 4, but I realize that’s maybe a wee outside most parents’ comfort zone). Why a fixed blade belt knife? Well, for one, because folding pocket knives are actually far more hazardous, and for two, because proper knife handling is one of the most liberating and useful skills a child can have. Why a sharpening stone? Because dull knives are dangerous knives. Why a box of bandages? Because hell yes, they are going to cut themselves, and being taught how to doctor their own wounds is yet another incredibly useful skill that almost no children learn these days.
2. If I ran the school, every classroom would have doors and windows that opened to the outdoors, and every bit of wall space that wasn’t comprised of doors and windows would be filled with books. Thin books, fat books, comic books, classic books. Books upon books upon books upon friggin’ books.
3. If I ran the school, classes would not be age-segregated, and younger students would likely spend as much – if not more – time learning from older students as they did from “teachers.”
4. If I ran the school, children would learn how to cook before they learned calculus. Actually, they’d start learning how to cook before they learned addition and subtraction. Actually, they’d learn addition and subtraction as they learned how to cook. Actually, they’d already have learned addition and subtraction while determining how much garden space they needed to grow the ingredients they’d use to feed themselves.
5. If I ran the school, students would spend more time outdoors than in. But you knew that.
6. If I ran the school, every child would learn how to use basic hand tools. They would use these tools to build a shelter in which they would spend the night. In winter.
7. If I ran the school, there would be lots and lots of toys in every room. These toys would look suspiciously like sticks, rocks, scraps of fabric, paper, paints, and other found objects. There would be no legos. There would be nothing that lit-up and beeped, unless the children were clever enough to make something that lit up and beeped. There would be none of these ridiculously overpriced natural wooden toys that any child with half a brain, the right tools, and the weeniest bit of facilitation can damn well make for themselves.
8. If I ran the school, there would be instruments in every room. Guitars, hand drums, and pretty much everything but accordions and nose flutes (don’t ask). These instruments would be inexpensive and well-used, so that no one would be tempted to tell the students to “be careful.” No one would say “don’t play it like that.”
9. If I ran the school, the primary economics text book would be Charles Eisenstein’s Sacred Economics. The primary history/sociology text books would be Daniel Quinn’s Ishmael and My Ishmael . Meanwhile, the dangers of drug use, casual sex, and excessive rocking-the-fuck-out would be demonstrated via exposure to Motorhead and repeated viewings of the movie Lemmy.
10. If I ran the school, there would be a bicycle for every child. If the school I ran were in a four-season climate (and it would be, because I’m not moving out of a four-season climate just to run a school), there would be cross-country skis for every child.
11. If I ran the school, I would not talk about how my students are more likely to gain admittance to the college or university of their choosing than conventionally-schooled children, or about how the skills, curiosity, and resourcefulness my school engenders will make them more suited to the contemporary job market. Because while these things might well be true, they are not the point!
Which is probably why my school would not be very large.