Tuesday, September 23

Can American Children Be Stopped From Using Marijuana?

Oh sure.  All we have to do is figure out why so many American children don't listen when their parents tell them not to use dope.  Toward that end I have a few thoughts on the system of mass education.

The human animal in childhood is a pretty simple creature that operates according to strict rules of nature. For children these rules boil down to an overriding principle: If there's more of them than me they must be right.  Because of this logic the system of public schooling, which pits a relative handful of adult teachers against large groups of children, is the worst imaginable way to educate children in this era.

Today, children in the mass education system feel they're at the mercy of peers who are not family. They develop a kind of existential fear, which corrodes self confidence.  This makes young people in particular an easy mark for chemical substances that pump them up with a false courage and substitute a chemical high for coping skills they're supposed to learn from adults, not each other.

The observation applies whether the substance is legal or illegal.  I think that's why both the criminalization and public health approaches to dealing with substance abuse are bailing water with a sieve.

To bail water with a bucket, put more adults than children in every nursery school and K-12 classroom.

To bail water even faster, have teams of teachers teach the adults who are gathered in the classroom along with the children, and have the adults, not the children in the class, put the questions to the teachers.
This approach to mass education takes the pressure off children to perform at an intellectual and experience level that's beyond their capacity. And it teaches children how to ask questions that lead to illuminating answers and allows them to see common sense in action.

The approach wouldn't exclude study periods for children and testing based on the studies nor would it exclude homework. It would restore the tried and true method of public education that made the human race a smashing success.

George Gurdjieff wrote of his childhood experience of attending huge convocations in the company of an uncle, where storytellers and teachers from across Central Asia gathered for weeks to orally pass down histories and legends and discuss and debate with each other while the public looked on.
The Kumbha Mela in India, while specifically religious, shares the same features as the Central Asian gatherings. Every 12 years Yogis leave their retreats and gather in a public place to share their insights with each other and debate.  This convocation is also open to the public.

The origins of these great gatherings are lost in the mists of what we call prehistory. Yet the antiquity of the gatherings indicates that the human race didn't become smart by telling its children to attempt to act and think like adults.  We got here by children observing adults teach each other.

This system of public education has been replaced by schools that are as much factories for producing the pack mentality.  Add the fact that in this era the factories also crank out highly developed intellects.  This is like setting an elephant atop a flea.  What little common sense the children manage to develop can be crushed under the sheer weight of their intellects.

As to why all this hasn't been clearly evident yet -- I think the Germans have been realizing the worst downsides of the system of mass education. Across much of the country they've halved the school day so children can spend more time with their family. (To my knowledge this lessening of time spent in school hasn't interfered with the children's academic progress.)

Yet I think the problem has crept up on many peoples, including Americans, from their blind side.  The family unit in this country changed markedly over the course of a century -- got much smaller. But human nature didn't change, and neither did the basic formula of the schooling system: many children, few adults.
In earlier eras I don't think this was such a problem because children were raised in their own packs, so speak; they could have four or ten siblings. These family packs were more important to the children raised in them than the ones they met with in school.  The family packs also prepared siblings to deal with the packs in school, and the older members of the family packs acted as authority figures for the younger siblings.   

And today in pockets around the world and even in the USA, parents have been able to offset to some degree the tyranny of the pack mentality in schools. They've done this by involving their children in communal-type activities after school, and where adults are present in large enough numbers to impress on the young brain that big people are in charge of the world, not its peers.

And there are still places in the world where children live in extended families, which offsets the worst effects of modern schooling.

Then there are parents who manage to beat the devil by force of nearly superhuman will. There are children who are more afraid of a parent than their schoolmates. While this can produce emotional scars it can also spare them much grief in their adulthood.

Take away these various pockets of resistance and I think it would be evident to many by now that the present system of public education needs considerable revision.  Children shouldn't grow up thinking that the opinions of other children are more important than the instructions of their parents. If they do grow up that way many will engage in self destructive acts simply if they see their peers doing it.

So if parents can't stop their children from using marijuana or any other drug or alcohol, they need to stop beating themselves up when their saying "no" is ignored.  They need to realize they're up against an old schooling system that is woven into the fabric of American society. It will take time to change the system so it puts more adults in children's' schooldays.

For now: if "no" consistently doesn't cut it, parents might want to insert themselves and other adults into their children's lives outside of school as much as possible. A bonus to this approach is that it takes children more away from television; many of the shows they watch reinforce their notion that little people are in charge.