Jose Marti was a revolutionary who was ahead of his time. He said:
“The prideful villager thinks his hometown contains the whole world and as long as he can stay on as mayor or humiliate the rival who stole his sweetheart or watch his nest egg accumulating in its strongbox, he believes the universe to be in good order, unaware of the giants in seven-league boots who can crush him underfoot or the battling of comets in the heavens that go through the air devouring the sleeping worlds.”
I use this quote applied to several different contexts. To me, Marti’s quote means that people tend towards maintaining their current life’s situation and ignore anything that could be a threat to their respective balanced state, sometimes not even seeing that their current life’s situation is in fact the problem. There are many, many contexts in which this quote applies because, all too often, we are all prideful villagers in some way or another.
I believe that when a kid has no sense of self and can’t find one in the system, the kid will gravitate towards anything that will provide him with an identity. Think of gangs: surrogate families who provide a name for kids who join. That gang nickname becomes a badge of honor that is the biggest and most stable mirror in most gang-bangers’ lives. If my gang knows me as “Turbo,” then “Turbo” is who I am. For Turbo, what does school matter? He only needs to become the prideful villager in his domain who protects his sense of self, Turbo.
Furthermore, the public school system is just one big prideful villager in itself. It seeks to maintain itself within its reality and sometimes can’t see that the kids it’s supposed to serve are not the kids it was designed to serve. Things have changed, social structures are divergent both culturally and economically and a rigid institution, like the public school system is just not flexible enough to adapt to these changed structures. Schools now fight to preserve themselves as their primary concern and seek to serve children only after it establishes its own place. Really, the kids who are falling in the gaps are the ones who end up in circumstances that will become more and more unhealthy until his life is a daily struggle to survive, by any means necessary.
There are great teachers in our public school system, but they are being lost within a funding and curriculum vacuum. Schools don’t need more money; they need better ways to implement the money they do receive. That plan should include diversity programming and curriculum that isn’t about some test that’s tied to funding. The curriculum should allow students to become aware and participatory human beings. Once the schools system develops and implements a curriculum that is critical and encompassing, then the funding may make sense. It doesn’t right now.
There’s always talk about “nature versus nurture.” There’s no debate, the reality is that development is nature WITH nurture. Most times, we look for genetic or family history causes for things like addiction and depression. But the nurture component is just as important. I think we need to look at the public schools system as being part of the problem within the nurture side of things. It’s yet another example of a prideful villager seeking to extend its circumstance without regard to the changing world around it.