Thursday, December 8, 2011

Who Can We Trust to Raise Our Children?

“A village is a hive of glass, where nothing unobserved can pass” -- Charles H. Spurgeon (1834-1892)
Does it take a village to raise a child. To be what? Village idiot? Village prostitute? Village drunk? Village ne'er do well? These are not failures of village education but roles integral to certain kinds of community life. Without the fallen, the at-risk, the tempted, those we celebrate as moral leaders would have little to do in a village. Comfortable educators purveying their wares to an increasingly comfortable clientele sentimentalize beyond historical recognition the outcomes of village life. These outcomes were usually not very good for the majority of village dwellers. The motto of village life is not "Thrive" but "Just survive."

Did my village raise its children? Yes, in some sense. Any adult felt free to tell a child what to do. Children were expected to obey. When an adult told me to hand over my mother's grocery money to him for safe-keeping, I, at seven years old, was not considered at fault for obeying. The presence of the thief was the neighborhood scandal. He was an outsider; he had to be. Only outsiders did really bad things in our neighborhood. What our neighbors did, e.g., bloodying their wives' noses, breaking their child's arm, wasn't really bad. For “our own kind,” the quality of mercy could not be strained.

To examine these issues further, see School and Family: A Partnership for Educational Success?

-- EGR

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