Everything is New Again

education Feb 28, 2023

What  instrumentalism, economic ends and modernity have taken away from the original conception of school can never be fully comprehended or felt.
I meet parents who are eager to know how much we do in the school: how many subjects, how many sports games, how many languages, how many activities, and so on. If I was better at communication and convincing, I would have succeeded in explaining that in the question "how many" only the first word is important.
The word school (as in a place of instruction) comes from Middle English "scole", which comes from Old English "scol". Both scole and scol mean a place of instruction.
These above are further descended from Latin "schola" which meant "meeting place for teachers and students, place of instruction". One can now see a change in the character of the word. It builds a new image. A meeting place for teachers and students. I find it a gentler conception. A place that can be kind and accommodative.
Going further back in time, the Greek origin "skholē/scholē" meant free time, rest, delay, discussion, ease, and even school building.
What we have now is quite the opposite of free time and rest and delay. And what of the conception of the building? The built space is central to the word 'school' itself. Not only the way it is made, the materials and the forms, but the spirit of the place, its Genius Loci, the possibilities that the place may engender.
Perhaps I will write more on the "rest and delay" of scholē, the suspension of production and destination. But I do not feel like, nor am I articulate enough, to elaborate on it today. Perhaps, you already have a seed of the image I have in my mind. Perhaps one should build one's own castles in the mind. Rest and delay.
It is unlikely that we may ever fully realise the essence of the word scholē. It is beyond reach in the present priorities and preferences of school masters and child rearers and people rulers.  At Northstar, my work is like the labour of Sisyphus. But in this repetition, in this weight, I find eternal renewal. Like Hesse's Joseph Knetch, on the way back 'home', "Everything was new again, mysterious, promising; all that had been could recur, and many new things as well. It was long, long since he had looked out upon the day and the world and seen them as so unburdened, so beautiful and innocent."