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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Celebrate Not-Back-to-School!

Despite what the trendy commercials and smiley magazine articles tell you, school isn’t about your children’s education, learning or healthy development. School’s entire purpose is to separate your children from you, their families, friends, communities and from themselves in order to train them to take their place in the global marketplace, as both workers and consumers. “Back-To-School” should be appropriately renamed “Back-To-The-Conditioning-Cell”.

I encourage you to look past the grinning stock photos, bubbly commercial actors and flimsy, child-denying articles and realize that “Back-To-School” isn’t a holiday, a celebration or a fun time for children- It is a marketing goldmine for those who profit from the materialistic, academic and social anxieties it triggers.   --Laurie A. Couture

Today is the 36th anniversary of my Christian baptism. It is also the last day of July. In 21 days, only three weeks, the kids in my town will go back to school. Even some homeschooled children will soon go back to a certain daily grind.  Back-to-school didn't used to happen until after Labor Day. That's the first change I'm going to make in our natural learning paradigm shift. Let summer be summer until it is actually fall! I know, what a novel idea.

Where I live, the county fair and 4-H are big. Much formal learning is involved in 4-H projects, so until the fair is over, we will be focused on finishing Beezy's dog project. We are also now officially Humane Society volunteers. Beezy is really interested in working at a pet center. Maybe she will be a dog groomer or boarder or veterinarian some day. At the age of 9 she is already getting practical experience. She will most likely resume piano lessons when the kids go back to school, and religious education classes will begin late in August. Otherwise, formal studies do not need to happen until September, maybe when our homeschool co-op starts.

Summer gets such a short shift. Some of my very best childhood memories are of being at Little Long Lake when my grandparents owned a cottage there. The cottage had a toilet but no running water. We flushed it with a bucket of lake water, and we washed our hair in the lake. We went fishing and played "king of the mountain" on the raft in our swimming area. There were fireworks and sparklers. We even went to a church in the area sometimes. My teenage uncle and his friends would drive to church, willingly, even when they didn't have to go. I remember the automatic slamming sound of the screen door every time someone entered or left the cottage. Old magazines on the upstairs porch. Strange shapes in the wallpaper. A certain smell. My grandparents. Kids I knew only from the lake. Playing in the sand and canoeing. Swimming through seaweed. "Take a Chance on Me" and "Rock the Boat" on the radio. Life was never more fully lived than there at that lake, and the grown ups remember it wistfully too. I can still see that final bend in the dirt road that led to our cottage. I can still feel the anticipation. What if life were always like that?

I agree with Laurie Couture--"Back-to-School" is not a holiday. It's a corporate marketing scam. Soon the children will be gone from the neighborhood until late in the afternoon. They won't be riding their bikes, jumping on trampolines, or playing football in an empty grass lot. They won't be with their families. They won't be allowed to go to the bathroom when they need to, or to talk to their friends except for a few minutes at lunch and recess. They will sit quietly, face the front of the classroom, keep their heads down, and do work they have not chosen. They won't be climbing trees. Daydreaming will be considered a sin. They will be removed for long hours from the real world ostensibly to prepare to some day re-enter it. This is sad, and life doesn't have to be this way.

What if you didn't send your children back to school this year? It isn't too late to register as homeschoolers. Just consider it. Pray about it. Listen to your inner voice. You don't have to give your children away to the State. You don't need to be especially smart or buy fancy curriculum. You only need faith the size of a mustard seed. It's like the angel said, "With God all things are possible."