"It takes a village to raise a child"...we've all heard that before and those of us that are parents know just how true this statement is. But let's face it, our "villages" are a bit scattered and confused these days.
Could it be that in the quest for self-sufficiency and independence, we might have actually gotten it all wrong? Just about a century ago, most children got their education (and a very hands on one too!) at home alongside their parents, building, cooking, cleaning, sewing, growing their own food, tending to animals, building and fixing their own homes, etc..., basically homesteading. Talk about self-sufficiency! Those families were self-sufficient in every sense of the word.
Now, don't go into a panic just yet thinking I'm not suggesting we should all pull our kids out of school, become farmers, and abandon modern-day society as we know it. Although the thought has crossed my mind, I'm not suggesting that at all! (Think I just heard a collecting sigh of relief, haha!)
But in all seriousness, let's just process this for a moment. When did the switch happened from that picture of the "self-sufficient" family of over a century ago to the modern family model of today?
Well, it was a gradual process and I could think of at least two things that probably had the biggest impact. Industrialization of society, which let me add, did great things for the advancement of society in many aspects was one. And, general education, as we know it, was the other.
Because parents began working outside of home all day, children began attending school at a young age and got to learn skills such as math, reading and science. All while sitting at a desk inside a school building. But let's face it, in those early days of "industrialization" and "general education", families still did quite a bit at home. Certain life skills were still expected to be taught by the family at home.
However, what has happened over the course of the last century is that the "handing down" of many of those life skills has gotten pushed to the way side as families became over-worked and over-tired and began placing their hopes for their children in the education system. Yet education hasn't adapted. Basically families began doing less "homesteading", and as a result children started having less opportunities to take part in hands-on activities to learn many useful life-skills. In the meantime, education started focusing more and more on subjects such as math, literacy, science, technology...calculus...biology...trigonometry...etc...etc... And so the village scattered!
Left alone in the middle are our children, the future of our society. You see, young adults today leave school knowing facts about matter and how to do calculations that most will never remember nor have the need or opportunity to use in their lifetime. And they also leave school not knowing how to balance a checkbook, purchase a house, grow their own vegetable garden or fix a leak, sew a tear, treat a small wound naturally, or even cook a small pot of rice. No I'm not exaggerating and you know it.
So what's happening?
The reocurring theme across the most recent generations is "Don't worry about it...Just go to school and get a good education so you can get a great job and don't have to depend on anyone else." I must've heard this a thousand times growing up. Surely, I'm not the only one. And while I love my mom for it, I do wish I got more "life training" during my younger years.
Today's families (mine included), are more dependent than ever! We depend on a restaurant to make our meals. We depend on a factory farm to raise our food. We depend on a supermarket to make that food available to us and we believe everything it has is good for us. We depend on a mall to make clothes available to us. We depend on dry cleaners to clean them. We depend on a seamstress to fix our clothes, or we just toss it and go back to the mall. We depend on our nannies or child care centers to nurture our babies and get them ready for school. We depend on our education system to teach our children all they will need to know to be self-sufficient. We depend, we depend, we depend...So how self-sufficient and independent are we really?
Could our children be growing up in an impersonal, scattered village, learning little to no life skills and not having the chance to form healthy attachments?
Again, please don't panic! I'm not suggesting we do away with calculus or trigonometry and replace it with sewing and farming. Honestly, I'm not sure what the answer to this problem truly is. But I do know that we need to reel "the village" back in. We need to meet somewhere in the middle, wherever that might be. We need to let go of our pride and realize that we do have to rely on our neighbors and elders and that there is a lot more to life than getting a good education and good-paying job. Education does not take the place of life-experiences!
Our education system has to realize that families today just don't have the time and in many cases, the knowledge to teach "life-skills" to our children anymore. And families need to realize that these life-skills are just as important as algebra and molecular biology.
My wish for our children is that when they leave their village, their nest, they leave as young adults empowered with the knowledge to make healthy choices for themselves and their future families. Knowledge of how to make a nutritious meal, how to treat minor wounds naturally, how to fix a tear on a piece of clothing, how to fix a simple leak, how to nourish soil naturally in case they want to grow a vegetable garden, how to budget and build or buy a house, as well as how to do complicated calculations and all about chemistry and biology in case they want to pursue a career in whatever field you may need to know that in.
I do believe this is possible but it does require a village working TOGETHER. We DO need each other and our children are depending on it.
That is why I've started Nature's Nest. Though, small right now, my prayer is that this little nest of mine will grow to be a great place where children, families and caregivers can connect and work together again. Learning all about the natural principles of life so we can truly thrive! Thank you for taking the time to read this and please do comment with your thoughts, ideas, and suggestions. I want to hear from you. It takes a village, remember?