A back to school elegy for a very good idea, perennially deferred
I love this. Duh. So much of my journey on this continues to be--how can we be more honest about the impact individual choices have on public systems without making people feel shut down?
For some my book has been a portal of sorts, a way into a choice that they suspected they wanted to make but weren't sure was really okay. It's okay! Slide down the portal! It's beautiful and complicated here! For others, it (and I) have become a symbol of something naive, judgy, something they want to avoid and/or rationalize in various ways. My overwhelming experience of the book being published on "the negative side" has been avoidance, not debate. People do not want to talk about it. At. All.
I love that your work, Bucks, is about wrestling with this tension--that in our various forms of reckoning, there are real relationships to attend to. The quest to do that with honesty and humility and boldness all at once seems very hard and very important right now.
This was very cathartic to read after reading that NY Times section and feeling many similar but less articulate feelings. I am ready to volunteer as editor of the special “Private Schools and White Flight Suburbs… They Literally Shouldn’t Exist In A Just Society But We Are Sure Many Of You Would Struggle Mightily To Give Up Your Relationship To Your School and Your Town and Your Property Values And That’s A Problem But It’s Also Understandable So What The Hell Are We Going To Do With All That?” edition!
A great read as always Garrett. I also desire school to be something that diminishes social stratification, not increases it. It feels like we as a country would need a shared value of community over the individual to make that happen systematically, and that feels like a long way off. I wonder what your thoughts are on what incremental change looks like on more personal level - as I close in on two decades in education, I feel less invested in the systemic change side of things.
GARRETT. I mostly just have questions after reading this. And so many feelings of yes yes yes yes yes. And I just can't help but keep thinking: but what about what we know now about children's brains and their development and scientific observation of their brilliance and their potential and their deep need for multi-generational community, and where do all of those things fit into all of this? This is the perennial question for those of us in the intersection of public schools and "alternative" pedagogies like Montessori: it's mostly only available to limited populations (White people) but more and more research is coming out to suggest that brain-based pedagogies benefit ALL children, and we're trying in public schools but it's so hard to implement in this climate of accountability and quantifying children's value through standardized testing and all the other things that are listed on Great Schools. Which, of course, aren't any of the things that really matter about being human. Anyway, thanks for always making me feel and think and question all at the same time, especially about the things closest to my heart and my work.
"We know what schools are for. We just don’t want to live into the challenge of that answer." I just love where you take this. This has been on my mind a LOT. Especially as I've been thinking about people I know who talk about commitment to our school district -- and I believe they mean it! -- but whose kids go elsewhere.