There are a lot of people loyal to schooling. They have their varied motivations and investment but for whatever reason, there are a lot of people loyal to schooling.
When I talk about children and their rights, there will be at least one person who cautions me about how incompatible that would be with compulsory education. I am aware of this, it is part of what inspires my opinion of schooling and it’s complete redundancy. But that’s not what they are trying to suggest.
They caution me because if we treated children like humans, they (like me) can’t imagine how they would ever tolerate complying with the concept of schooling and they (unlike me) do not consider schooling to be the one accountable for resolving the discrepancy. We couldn’t possibly entertain the idea of honouring children and their rights because it would make compulsory education difficult or impossible to continue and continuing the archaic institution of schooling is far more important than a child having rights, right?
Mmm. Does that not seem a little backwards to anybody else?
Concepts do not have rights, people do. If schooling is incompatible with maintaining a child’s rights? Then it is school’s responsibility to adjust or cease. Children deserve our protection, not the concept of school.
Children are fairly inevitable when we consider the continuing of the human race, their rights should be a priority. Schooling, on the other hand, is not inevitable. Schooling is something society devised for a purpose. It should never be a forgone conclusion that it remain.
If we have come to a better understanding of what children need and are beginning to actually acknowledge the truth of what they deserve, schooling should be assessed against this and not the other way around. If schooling no longer fulfils the reality of these conditions, then it does not deserve our continued loyalty.
And yet everyday, children are required in little and big ways to compromise their needs to maintain school’s existence. Schooling continually infringes on their autonomy, voice, emotions, privacy, care, safety and acceptance in exchange for a diluted and controlled amount of information. Information that might not necessarily be what they need or want but the majority of children are not even given an option to decline this transaction.
In truth though, it is kind of irrelevant what schooling claims to offer if it cannot do so in a way that doesn’t disrespect children. Should children really be restricted in what they wear, when they eat or what they learn in order to maintain the institution of compulsory education? Or should schooling be restricted in what it can expect of children in order to maintain their rights?
People shouldn’t serve concepts. Concepts should serve people.
Children’s rights are not negotiable. School is.