Totally devasted

(Warning: this post is full of foul language. I´m sorry, but I can´t help it.)

I´m devasted. Furious. Deeply sad. And I feel like a complete failure and an idiot.

All the fears and doubts I´ve ever had about whether or not it is possible (or even desirable) to offer an unschooling project in Mexico seem to have materialized. And I´m not the kind of person who usually wastes a lot of time pondering on what could go wrong. I see what is, I know it´s there and that it has to be dealt with, but I always believe anything is possible and that every single one of us has the capacity to change the world. Today I´m wondering if that´s naive or just plain stupid.

The word is finally spreading, and yesterday six new children came to Explora. It felt incredible! I talked to the parents who were all well educated, interested and curious about the project. As always, I did my best to give them a quick tour in why it´s so important for children to manage their own time freely, to have the opportunity to make decisions, take initiatives and learn how to be responsible for the outcome of those decisions and initiatives.

All their kids go to the “best” private schools here in Puerto Escondido.  “Best” in the sense that parents believe they´re better. Maybe because they have to pay. I honestly have no idea. Every time I visit those schools, I get the creeps and have a hard time to even breathe because of the oppressive atmosphere.

Anyway. So their children came to Explora. And during the time they stayed, my facilitators and I got a real insight in how the traditional school system is fucking children up from the beginning. (Pardon my language, but there´s no other appropriate term, and besides, I´m still furious – with the system, that is.)

These children don´t listen. I believe they don´t know how. Probably because they´ve never been listened to, so they have this urge to be heard.
They didn´t listen to the facilitators, and they didn´t listen to the other children. They called them names. They were using violent language. They were showing very aggressive attitudes. They were even throwing rocks at the Explora kids.

I´m sure these children have never had the opportunity to get their own emotions validated, so they don´t know how or what they feel and they can´t control their own actions. Having empathy and compassion is impossible in that situation. It´s obvious they´ve grown up in a violent and oppressive system that doesn´t listen to them, that shows no respect for them and that´s what they´ve learnt is okay. That is how you live life. So they all have developped a bullying mentality. And they´re only EIGHT!!!

We were in shock yesterday. The collision between systems was awful to watch. The ordinary Explora kids got very upset. They´re used to us all having a wonderful time. And yesterday they were being attacked with rocks, dammit!

And everything got complicated because I had organized a party at the beach with the kindergarten families, so I had to take off. But I know that my facilitators are good, and I knew they were going to be able to substitute for me. And they did a great job. But it wasn´t enough. Those kids just didn´t respond.

They were given freedom, maybe for the first time in their lives, and they had no idea how to use it constructively. So they turned into little monsters.

Let me be clear: none of this comes a surprise to me. I have been concerned about the possibility of this happening. But to see it in real life was horrifying. Because the kids are not to blame. It´s this very violent, aggressive and oppressive society and its stupid educational system that is to blame. And I truly hate the system. I HATE IT so badly. This is what it´s doing to children. It fucks them up.

It makes me want to cry. And the parents have no idea. They keep on thinking it´s all good. That exams are important and grades even more so. They think their children´s behaviour is normal. They´ve never seen anything else.

And here I am wondering what the hell I was thinking when I decided to create Explora. How could I ever imagine it would be a good idea? How could I ever think that I´d be able to change anything from the outside? How could I ever believe we would be able to make a difference?

I know I need to sit down and have a serious conversation with these parents. If they want to keep their children in Explora I can see only one way of doing it: by accepting only one of these children per day and see if maybe, hanging around with kids that do listen and that are respectful might do somehing positive to them. I need to find a way to create a detox strategy.

I´m still devasted, furious and sad. And I still feel like a failure and an idiot. But I´m not giving up. Any ideas on how to proceed are more than welcome.

 

3 thoughts on “Totally devasted”

  1. There’s a chemistry saying “do as you oughta pour your acid in your water.” In addition to Chem class, I once heard someone use it as a metaphor in talking about sociology. The general point was about placing a bad person in a good society vs putting a good person in a bad society. Something about the momentum of the society’s morals affecting the person dropped into it. I don’t know how well the theory holds up in real life but I like to think it has truth to it. If your existing culture is very healthy AND vigilant then it does not tolerate bad apples very well. The new edition will be converted or expelled. Similarly, if the community culture is toxic then it will either corrupt others. I’m sure there’s much to say about HOW good or bad the community and individual is. Also how involved the citizens are in maintaining the health of their community. I say all this to say that it seems like the community is having a very bad reaction with the new students. I would think after you communicate very sternly and clearly about what the norms are and what’s acceptable that either you convert them or there’s a realization that they simply aren’t a good fit.

    1. Hi Tony,
      It´s a late reply, but without a computer my communication has had to suffer some.
      I totally agree with you, and this is what we tried and what works! The new kids are adapting to the norms and it´s fascinating to observe! Thank you for always leaving comments on my posts, it´s so nice to know that someone reads them and reflects together with me 🙂

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