As some of you know, some years ago my family and I belonged to a Franciscan community where I served a director of the lay community (those folks who were not members of a religious order) and director of several of our retreat programs. The retreat programs were known as “searches” based on the notion that we are all, in some way, searching for ways to become our better selves. Hold that thought.
By now, you may be thinking “that’s nice” but where’s this going. Bear with me.
I’m including a link to a blog post by Jan Resseger. I became acquainted with Jan several years ago. We have developed a wonderful professional and personal connection. I value her work and would highly recommend it to anyone who is trying to make sense of the deterioration of many of our most important institutions. She has dedicated much of her thinking and writing to issues of equity and approaches issues relating to education more from an institutional and social good context than from one focusing on teaching and learning.
In the accompanying post, Jan focuses on the ways in which a number of very wealthy folks are seeking to undo big government, including what they term “government” schools or, more accurately, the system of public education. Their reach is extensive and their operation, formidable. In this piece, Jan connects the dots (she is a very accomplished researcher) with a short version of Ravich’s recently released book, Slaying Goliath).
OK, hellava intro, eh? Here’s my request. I’ve dedicated this week to reading/listening to some pretty diverse thinkers (Charles Eisenstein , Father Richard Rohr, Umair Haque ). I’d be lying if I said that I have connected all the dots among these very different thinkers. But here’s my searching question at this point. Is a system of public education, especially one which focuses so much on schooling and so reluctantly on learning, a critical public good for a healthy society? Do our efforts to bring about a new focus (student centered, focus on learning, discovering how to be, etc.) require the continuation of a system of public education? Are there really any options?
Charles Eisenstein is a fascinating person. I’ve shared with some of you my experience with him at what he termed “a gathering”. It’s from him that I’ve stolen the term “Age of Separation”… a time when we are increasingly separate from one another, from our institutions, and even from our planet. He got on the public radar with his book, The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible. We seem pretty far removed from that world at this point and the continuation of schooling as we know doesn’t seem to hold the answer. Is it legitimate to expect education to help move us in such a direction? If so, what must we do to schooling to make that possible?
Richard Rohr offers that we have two lives… a first life in which we seek to affirm who we are and a second one in which we seek to affirm and grow to become who we wish to be. He suggests that too many of us live in only the first half of our possible lives. I sense that our educational system is stuck in its first life and, in the absence of a clear sense of purpose, Jan points out that we are turning over the direction of the second life to the ideology of the very wealthy.
Is this a conversation worth having? Your thoughts, reflections, comments would be helpful.
Be well. Thanks for indulging my “search”.