the people along the sand all turn and look one way;
they turn their back on the land, they look at the sea all day.

as long as it takes to pass a ship keeps raising its hull;
the wetter ground like glass reflects a standing gull.

the land may vary more, but wherever the truth may be -
the water comes ashore and people look at the sea.

they cannot look out far, they cannot see in deep -
but when was that ever a bar for any watch they keep.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Don't Let the System Rule You!!

Today is Career Day at my daughter’s school. Apparently, this is a BIG DEAL, because she has been coming home stressed out for the past few weeks – stressed about…Career Day. Why? She says that there is incredible pressure at her school for kids to be staking out their career choices, making decisions about their career lives. And as is typical with kids, many use this as a chance to brag, or boast, or claim to be better than other kids. And as is typical with adults, praise is heaped on those who have great career ideas, or who have practical career goals. Anybody who dares to say “I don’t know” when asked what their career path is, or says something impractical like “I want to be an artist”, gets the stare down, the rolled eye, and the admonition to get it together.

My daughter is in tenth grade.

And I am thinking…what the hell? 16 year old kids are being pressured to make career choices. It sounds like something from an Orwellian dystopia. Well…I guess actually it is. I guess…sadly…that is a good description of our society and our educational system.

16 year olds are carbon-based bags of raging hormones. How can they be expected to make sane choices about a career that will lock them into a life path for the next 50 years? What kind of insanity promotes that idiocy?

I’ll tell you…the machine of the public education system. Things like Career Day make it obvious that the public education system is first and foremost a system. It is a machine, and its goal is to hammer out nice, compliant, unthinking automatons that can fit into society and not make waves and not think outside the box. The goal of public education is to conform, not minds, but lives…by using a cookie cutter approach to the most important decisions that people make.

So, kids who make decisions to follow the herd, to become nice compliant citizens, are praised, rewarded with recognition, become teacher’s favorites, and are allowed to proceed without Ritalin down the assembly line. Kids who question, who actually think, who dream or envision a different future for themselves are ridiculed, ostracized, pigeon-holed (you know, the “drama” kids – tell me it isn’t so) and often are punished by teachers and administration alike. They are certainly bullied, alienated within their peer group, and are forced to learn a hard lesson – if you don’t compromise, if you don’t fit in, you won’t be accepted.

And that is how the system wins.

America has been churning out unthinking automatons for years – certainly since the advent of the public education system, which was not in place at the beginning of the last century.

I told my daughter to forget about Career Day, and to boldly challenge anybody who would try and belittle her desire to be an artist and performer. I don’t know what she will actually do…but I know one thing. At home, she will not get pressure to “make up her mind” about a career. Not now, and not in the near future. I want her to continue to learn, to question, to grow, to challenge, to dream, to resist the machine as long as humanly possible. I know it will not be an easy path for her…as if living in the machine is easy. But…maybe…she will break free. And that is the best legacy I can give her; that, and unconditional love and acceptance – regardless of what her choice – or lack of choice – about a career may be.


  1. Yet another reason why my daughter is homeschooled. She is an independent thinker, questions everything, and has her own opinions. She couldn't care less about fitting in or following the "herd." She is happy being her own person with her own ideas and I'm quite content knowing she's not being brainwashed by The System. It is interesting to watch they dynamic between her and her friends who attend public school. The differences are unbelievable. As far as education goes, my daughter can read, write,and spell far better than many high school graduates I know. It is my job to make sure she continues to be an independent person unafraid of raising the bar and being who SHE wants to be, not what others feel she should be. It's a job I take very seriously.

  2. It's always been like that. Tougher for the different. And the different are almost always smarter, more independent, stronger (Have to be) & truer to themselves...and yet plagued with insecurities, self doubt, real darkness & isolation. It's what makes us us & is what it is. The others are more marketable for a system that demands conformers. Money is good & God Bless the Conformers too. But if one CAN NOT conform try as one may then to have a support system of love & acceptance & family makes ALL the difference in the world to live happily, and safely. Safely. Self destruction seems to loam on us different beat walkers. We need the affirmation much & maybe even more so. I need it like water or the gravity of reason to keep me on this Earth dissipates & that is ugly and scary. As hard as its been to be one of those weird ones I would not want to be any other way...any more. Use to. To feel good & right & whole while being a unique soul is a struggle but a fight worth fighting. And needful to live well in life's school full of normal humans.

  3. btw...both of you guys daughters will be powerful women.