Jesus' Precious Little Lambs

A Charlotte Mason Christian Home School: Preschool – 5th Grade :)

Hold Onto Your Child–Book Review Part II

on July 10, 2012

It Takes a Village to Raise a Child

An attachment village that is– a set of nurturing adult relationships that help mentor and assume responsibility for your children. Do you have an involved and available extendend family close by? If not, do you know your neighbors? Do you value making friends with people who show an interest in fostering a relationship with your child? Do you purposefully find ways to endear your child to her teacher? We need to raise our children together, like people do in a village. While those of us feeling burdened as we parent alone, would benefit from an attachment village, others of us feeling competent in our parenting, still can not deny that the effects of having a matrix of influence would be incredible. One day I would love for my children to spend a day, or longer, apprenticing under all sorts of people in their work, trade, craft, interest, etc.. (The flexible open-ended nature of homeschool allows for immersion in true learning experiences like this, a real luxury indeed!) We will be on the search for mentors who can teach our children what they really want to know. Friends and neighbors with a vested interest in our children’s development who will share their experiences. Can you imagine what a richly rewarding experience it would be to school outside of the classroom under the nurturing mentorship of an attachment village? For children in school, an attachment village is even more indispensable, lest they fall through the cracks into the “mentorship” of their peers.

Provence, An Attachment Culture

Lets look at a traditional culture; Rognes, Provence; where children are growing up with strong adult attachments, so that we may glean what we can, and recreate our own “attachment village”. Interesting to note, attachment wisdom is in the Provencal culture itself, not in the people’s consciousness. The people don’t even have to think about it, its just what they do. In our culture, we have far fewer embedded attachment rituals and structures, and some of the ones we have, are eroding. We are losing the structures that protect family life in our culture and relationships are paying a price. When attachment is not in a culture, it must be consciously worked at in order to prevent the consequences of attachment voids. We do not have the luxury of relying on our culture to protect us from ourselves and safeguard important values important to human life as other traditional cultures do (even to the point of not having to be conscious of what such values are). Reading Hold Onto Your Kids will serve to bring attachment into fuller consciousness.

In Provence, children greet adults and adults greet children. Socializing involves whole families, not adults with adults and children with children. There is only one village activity at a time, so families are not pulled in several directions. Sunday afternoon is for family walks in the countryside. Even at the village fountain, the local hangout, teens mix with seniors. Music and dancing bring the generations together instead of separating them. Culture takes precedence over materialism. One can not even buy a baguette without first engaging in the appropriate greeting rituals. Village stores are closed for three hours at midday while schools empty and families reconvene. Lunch is eaten in a congenial manner as multigenerational groupings sit around tables, sharing conversation and a meal.

The attachment customs around the primary school are equally impressive. Children are personally escorted to school and picked up by parents or grandparents. The school is gated and can only be entered by a single entrance. At the gate are the teachers waiting for their students to be handed over to them. Again, culture dictates that connection be established with the appropriate greetings between the adult escorts and the teachers as well as the teachers and the students. Sometimes when the class has been collected but the school bell has not yet rung, the teacher leads the class through the playground, like a mother goose followed by her goslings. While to North American eyes this may appear to be a preschool ritual, even absurd, in Provence it is self-evidently part of the natural order of things. When children are released from school, it is always one class at a time, the teacher in the lead. The teacher waits with the students at the gate until all have been collected by their adult escort. There aren’t many cracks to fall through. Provencal culture is keeping attachment voids to a minimum. However, attachment is simply in the culture, not the consciousness of the people.

Teacher-Student Relationships in Our Schools

“Attachment is by far the most powerful process in learning.” The desire for sameness with important attachment figures leads to some of a child’s most significant learning experiences; attachment empowers learning like a power assisted vehicle. In our culture, learning in school is often labored and the teaching is forced due to large attachment voids between teachers and students. Think about the impact of that. The author mentions how he was attached to his 1st grade teacher and not again until he was in 5th grade. “The in-between years were a wilderness as far as my education was concerned.” It is sobering to realize that all of us have similar stories about school. I can testify that as an attachment learner (the immature, ie young, especially depend on attachment to help them learn), I did not learn well in school because I felt so disconnected from the teacher. Even very caring teachers could not offer enough connection for me as they still had 30 other students to care for. On the flip side, when I worked as a teacher in preschool, I was not fully conscious of the attachment learning connection (I hadn’t read this book yet!), and so I did not attach myself to the children as much as I could have. Understandably, I was caught up in all the work to be done, splitting myself between 24 students, and honestly, serving my own attachment needs as I was there to make some teacher friends for myself. Gasp! Many of you think of me as a great teacher, and I was certainly putting a lot of effort in, but I want you to realize that the BEST teachers can never educate your child in the amazingly effective context of attachment like YOU can! That is just one reason of hundreds why homeschoolers believe “We are our child’s best teachers.” The way to a child’s mind has always been through his heart.

So learning is obstructed in a classroom setting by the inherent lack of attachment available. In the classroom, the often harried teacher of 30 is burdened by the ever increasing demands of the state and the schools, and worn out by trying to teach a herd of  kids who do not heed her or learn easily due to their peer orientation. If attachment does occur, its never for long, as kids are uprooted from teachers every year to move up a grade in elementary. The massive amounts of teachers a child has in junior high and high school only compounds the problem at a very attachment needy time in life. The schoolyard is actually where the power-assisted attachment based learning occurs best–learning peaks during recess, lunch hour, after school, and in the breaks between classes. Unfortunately, kids being attached to each other renders teachers ineffectual, no matter how well trained.  Learning happens where there is attachment. With little or no attachment to teachers, we are trying to get children to thrive in an unnatural learning environment, and in school, we even punish them for not succeeding with bad grades.  Also, a dangerous educational myth has arisen that children learn best from their peers. They do, partially because they are easier to emulate than adults but mostly because children have become so peer oriented. Unfortunately, what many learn is not the value of thinking, the importance of individuality, how to become humane, or what it means to be noble (let alone math, science, language, etc.) They learn what matters to their peers.

Ok, say your child is the one who escapes peer orientation and is actually learning something at school. It is still increasingly difficult to keep a child (let alone an adult) in the midst of a system that is screaming in an opposing direction at an alarming volume. As each generation becomes more peer oriented, teaching gets more impossible, and your child is subject to that impossibility. What is the chance that your child will have a teacher whose morale has been sunk by the already formidable task of educating the young, and on top of that, struggling with the chronic resistance of the students? If we can recall having some “bad” teachers way back when we were in school, and if peer orientation only increases with each generation, then the chance of getting a burned out teacher is also greatly increasing for our children. Having come from the teaching world, I know that teacher burn out is rampant. Burn out is inevitable when teachers can no longer lead because students no longer follow. With teachers not able to teach anymore, real learning does not happen anymore. Plus, you only have to imagine how you as an adult would fare if subjected by your friends to the kind of social interaction children have to endure each and every day–the petty betrayals, the shunning, the contempt, the sheer lack of dependability. Immature manifestations come naturally with the territory of being young, but the insatiable attachment hunger of peer oriented youth exacerbates the immature manifestations to an unbearable degree. (More on this next time!) Indeed, a very difficult environment to learn in.

Build Your Village

Homeschooling is not the only way around all these issues– yes, it is one of the best safeguards–but in the event that a family is not willing to homeschool, some protection from peer orientation may still be found in building an attachment village, a “mini Provence”, to surround your child. Hold onto your child, and when you can’t, make sure another adult you trust is.

Just a Few of My Villagers 😉

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