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  • theaptPORTFOLIO

    theaptSHOWS

    Yep, today is my kids’ first day back (that’s them on today’s theaptCOVER to the left) and dang it if I don’t feel even more nervous than they do! See, I’ve always have a bit of a problem with education systems because whether you started with Aristotle, John Berger, or me, discovering new ways of seeing inevitably leads to regrets about not having started earlier. I realized my need to personally structure my chaotic world at thirty-eight years old, and I can tell you that not a Seinfeld marathon goes by that I don’t think about the squandered years spent dismissing my self. Youthfully enticed, I might have glimpsed a road, if unlit, that led to curiosities beyond standardized literacy. If only there was an established system that taught humans, as soon as they are able to learn, the value of consideration, the value of perspective, the value of understanding before diving into other knowledge. What’s that? Schooling, you say? I don’t think so. Schools scare the shit out of me. I cannot enter a classroom or any institution of lower or supposedly higher education without feeling pressured to homogenize, comply, and regurgitate. Schools seem to have devolved from the Athenian ideal of elevating the mind, body, and imagination of its fifth-century BCE students to the modern one of hoping they choose the correct answer out of the multiple choices lest they be left behind. Plato would not be happy.

    Since I have generously been allowed to participate in the raising of two children for the purpose of seeing how quickly I can fuck them up (at least that’s the only reason I can figure), education is on my mind every day as a much broader matter than the mere schooling which seems to solely concern itself with advancement. Education, in stark contrast, intersects with creativity, vision, development, intellectual awareness, emotional relationships, and ability; it goes hand in hand with being a social animal. And so, when it comes to my growing firstborn, Zoel, I do wonder upon every new word, point of view, and attitude, wondering how he learns, how he digests, and how he assimilates, attentive to the structure before it is filled with what will soon be forgotten to the profit of culture, the reason why I am not as concerned with what he learns. Whether you remember what year Belgium declared independence from the Netherlands does not matter as much as the reasons why you acquired that knowledge, whether you were made to wonder and eventually care about history, and whether that interest for the past gave renewed clarity to the present and, in turn, inspired your vision for the future. The platform is extraordinarily more important than its content, which is why I have a problem with the educational system as it stands, for it merely schools us, mostly checks our ability to remember.

    Schooling does not test for what is the most important part of knowledge, the acquiring. Isn’t that the case with most things in life? Aren’t journeys, in the end, often more significant than where they lead? Why then are parents so surprised to hear from educators that life at home greatly impacts their child in school? They are shocked, shocked that their progeny might also need familial direction, not to say homework but a rich cultural environment from which to draw. How could that possibly be a revelation? Well, because some believe that most products and services have already been devised, priced, and can be readily bought, without a second thought given to individual examination. If you feel this way, as indeed most do in this western world, why should schooling be any different? Why shouldn’t we be able to rely, much like we do on ten dollars buying two hours of entertainment, on two hundred and fifty thousand buying eighteen years of instruction which, in turn, allows us to lay back while the knowledge supposedly enters our children’s charming little brains? We should not and we cannot, because each human brain simply does not assimilate information in exactly the same way, and it is up to us, the guardians, to know their steez. We keep sending our kids to schools with shelves full of awards, in good standing, renowned, Ivy League, private, or charter schools without ever really wondering if the method fits the subject.

    This was always a point of contention in my own life because I was not just the class clown, which would have been fine enough for my hoping-to-be-proud parents, but also a disrupter of schools. So much so that just about every year, I was expelled from one and had to start anew in another. From good schools to worse schools, to schools for troublemakers and, finally, to schools for kids that nobody else wanted, a journey culminating with a recommendation to a Parisian establishment of great distinction named Charlemagne. With a reputation for being able to break any kid, it would be my last resort, since they took in anyone with a less-than-glorious past, anyone on whom other institutions and parents had given up, restoring them back, by some brutal magic, to the good graces of society. To this last-chance academy, I was not even accepted. The only alternative for Jewish parents out of options was to let another people’s god decide what should be done with me, specifically by sending me to Catholic boarding school, which was upsetting to say the least.
    //MORE