Apparently I am involved in “the hijacking of state schools.” If I’m to have any role in a takeover anywhere in society, let me start here by stating deliberately what that agenda should look like. First let’s start with The Freechild Project Vision, circa 2009.
Transformed roles for young people throughout society. The way our world views children and youth is moved past them being seen and treated as passive recipients. Instead, all young people in all communities around the entire world become engaged in civic, social, educational, economic and other avenues central to the livelihood of society.
- Intentional Acknowledgment of the Power of Young People. We live in times that are challenging, to say the least. For more than a half century the power of children and youth has been shown to be a powerful and successful avenue for creative, inventive and successful social change. As a society we need to deliberately acknowledge, embrace and enliven that power in every way possible. Let’s set forth to say to young people everywhere, “We believe in you. We will actively support and partner with you. You aren’t just the future – we need you RIGHT NOW. Please join us in this collective struggle for a better world.”
- Equitable Opportunities for Engagement. Opportunities for children and youth need to be created, fostered, supported and sustained throughout society where their roles are equitable to those of adults: that may mean voting rights, salaries, signatory authority, training or any other mechansim that acknowledges the unique positions young people occupy in our society.
- Deliberate Struggling with Discrimination. The cold realities of explicit discrimination impact children and youth before anyone else: adultism starts in the crib, as babies are coddled in dehumanizing ways, taught to respond to the adultcentric gestures of well-meaning but poorly informed parents. As each of us has grown up we’ve been expected to grow accustomed to this treatment, and the subsequent layers compounded on top of it, including sexism, racism, classism and more. There must be conscious and deliberate efforts to struggle with the effects of that early discrimination, as well as its causes. Then we must challenge and overcome not the oppressors but the oppression itself. This is not a struggle against adults – its a challenge we must take up together, young people and adults of all ages.
- Interaction with the Broad Array of Educational Avenues. Schools are often seen as “the way” education happens in our society. However, I believe that is an overly-simplistic anti-analysis, as schools are merely one of many challenges at work. The most powerful educational avenue in our society is actually social marketing, which acts as a defacto teacher in every area of our lives- schools included. Children, youth and adults must work together to create alternate messaging that moves towards the vision stated above. By usurping mainstream messaging that treats young people either as violent supercriminals or as incapable infants, children, youth and adults can become powerful players who create the avenues through which we can broadcast the future. When lightpoles are acknowledged as powerful medium and graffiti is seen for its value as a textbook we’ll be getting somewhere. Seriously.