Lately, I’ve been thinking about my son and his education. And when I do, I sometimes become very agitated and nervous, and begin to future-project all sorts of uncomfortable scenarios.
Since I had to pull him out of school last February, we signed up with an independent learning school, where we see his teacher weekly, discussing what was done during the past week. At this point, my son’s education does not look anything like it did a year ago.
There is no sitting down doing worksheets. There is no reading a book and then writing a book report. And when I got the *brilliant* idea to have him work with a tutor for math about a month ago, his anxiety became so badly triggered that by the fourth session, he completely shut down into panic. He couldn’t fight it. He couldn’t fend it off. It ate him alive.
It shows up looking like PTSD.
Any time his education even begins to feel like his past school experience, he becomes triggered. Like PTSD. For him, being forced to be in crowded classrooms with inauthentic teachers, and being forced to focus on work that was five times harder for him than for his classmates, created a soup in his mind that gave birth to several very painful beliefs.
“I am stupid. I am slow; and that’s a bad thing. The way you are treating me and what you are expecting of me is killing me.”
Because he’s a child and a student, in our society he is neither respected, nor valued as a person. Students are barked at to be quiet, sit without being a distraction, and do as they are told to do, when they are told to do it, how they are told to do it. Only if they perform, and perform well, are students and children in our society praised and told that they have value. Even with that, they are not respected. They are dictated to and trained like a dog, especially when they are young. (Yes, I’m generalizing a bit, but not overly so).
Children learn in school that their inherent value is tied to their performance. And when they can’t perform well, their self-worth plummets. They learn very quickly if they are one of the smart ones, or stupid ones.
Most of the time in a school setting, the only time a student’s input is requested, is when the teacher wants to gauge how many of the students are grasping what’s being taught, and how much is sinking in. Other than that, for the most part, a student’s input it not sought, and their opinions are discouraged. This is the system.
Once you get into the uppermost levels of education, for example the higher level college classes, this can change; in small classes where information is discussed back and forth, more than disseminated and expected to be memorized and regurgitated.
But at the level of education where my son is currently, the way our society teaches, what they deem important for a child to learn, and the way children are treated, does not work for my son at any level.
He struggles to learn when he’s one of a herd of cattle. He needs to work with either an extremely small group, or one-on-one. When he has less than no interest in something, forcing himself to focus on it, is like trying to thread a needle while riding a rollercoaster. Well, maybe not quite that difficult, but pretty close.
And being dictated to, with no respect or regard for my son as a brilliant and amazing being, can be soul crushing.
He feels the meaning behind words spoken, by tones in a person’s voice, and by the energy they throw off (much like his mom does). So, having a teacher (especially in elementary school, where he had one teacher all day, every day) who constantly felt one way inside, and stuffed it down the best they could, putting on an act that crumbled if there were no adults around to keep them in check, was hell for him.
So how do you teach a child who becomes triggered into trauma, and who panics and shuts down by anything that looks, smells, or sounds like “school”? THAT, has been the challenge.
I am learning about philosophies out there that say that people are naturally curious, and if that curiosity is not shut down or stifled, a child wants to learn all sorts of things. And it’s possible to craft a child’s education around something they get excited about. And that’s what we’ve been doing for the past several months.
My son has a lot of innate intelligence, and gets excited about a lot of things, not many of which are taught, acknowledged, or valued in a traditional classroom. The ways in which my son is brilliant, are not easily teachable. As such, you don’t learn them at school, don’t receive grades or certificates for them, and our educational system doesn’t value them. He has extreme emotional intelligence for one. He’s a great critical thinker. He’s very compassionate. He can be very funny and silly. And creativity explodes out of him.
As much as I know that my son possesses most of the qualities on the above list (and then some), I also realize that we walk in a world where being able to do some things fluidly and with ease, like writing, reading, and math, have value and serve a purpose. Several hundred years in the future, they won’t, when people turn on their ability to communicate using telepathy, and when we live in societies not hung up on money and time; one where people freely exchange things because of need, not out of a distorted sense of want and lack.
But we live in the here and now. And I have to figure out a way to make it all work. What I’m still figuring out, is how to help my son reach a certain proficiency in things like math and writing, so that when he wants to enter higher education, and when he goes out into the world, he’ll be ready for it all.
Some days, I’m ok; confident that somehow, we’ll get there. I have discovered a modality of energy healing that should help my son shift a bit of his anxiety and will hopefully dissolve some of the trauma triggers. That would make this road a bit easier to travel.
And then there are the darker days. The ones I struggle to get through.
As a mother, I have absorbed a ton of values and judgment from my society and family that state, among other things, that unless my child walks like this, talks like this, and can do this, he is not going to be ok in his life. I have internalized a ton of shitty and untrue statements, and they love to fuck with my head (especially late at night). They lie to me. They get my brain to run around in circles. They love to fuck me up. They love to distract me from who I really am, and who my son really is.
During those times, I try to remember to come back to the here and now. To remember that right now, we are ok. And even if my son struggles, he’s at a point of life where he’s changing and growing a lot. And who knows where we’ll be in a year.
The most important thing I try to remember is to breathe. Just breathe. No matter what, everything will be ok.