Be wary of world view 'good' schools give to your kid
About two years ago, I got into a tiff on Twitter with a private school franchise, a very popular one.
As a means to resolve the issue, its leaders invited me to one of their schools, to "see who they are and what they do".
I went in there armed to the teeth with my best English, ready to fight. But they really weren't trying to fight me. They wanted to show me who they were as a brand, and hopefully win me over.
Their pitch was measured, considered and carefully constructed and it left me floored, but not for the reasons you are thinking.
There were two words they used that I wasn't able to move past, "company" and "business".
We all know that these schools are run as a business but that it was something that was so ingrained in how they saw themselves as a school concerned me.
It also got me thinking very seriously about the values I want to instil in my child and then those thoughts snowballed into whether or not we are parenting consciously as young parents.
I believe in culture; the ideas, customs, and social behaviour of groups and of society in general. When people are anchored in a certain culture, it shapes who they are emotionally, intellectually and beyond.
It is from culture that identities are born. Which is why I judge black parents whose children can only hold conversation in English. There is simply no excuse, none whatsoever. What identity must your children assume when they navigate the world? Language should not be underestimated as a cultural grounding tool, one that offers a sense of belonging.
There is no doubt that one's culture will develop according to where one is, like a school environment. Which begs the question: are we aware of the cultural institutions and environments that we place our children in? Are we measuring and considering the long-term effects of how those environments impact them?
Before the school visit, I was going to do everything to be able to afford private school education for my daughter, but after two years of thinking and measuring, I have resolved to put her through public schools.
I have friends whose children are in some of the most expensive private schools and I see how increasingly worried they are about the world view their children are developing. They worry about the manicured life experiences that are being dished out, curated and not representative of what the world looks like.
Our children's world view cannot be that of obscene amounts of money, or be informed by it. Yes, we live in a capitalist world, but surely we have the responsibility to allow children some reprieve before they are overtly exposed to it.
Is it our responsibility as parents to make sure that our children learn to see people before they see money? Can we do it successfully in environments that raise money over the shaping of children?
Schools are the biggest cultural institutions that our children will interact with outside of family and community. As a parent, I am not comfortable with one that anchors its existence as a business rather than a place that will shape who my child becomes.
I am in no way saying that all private schools are the devil. I am saying it's a route that I have chosen not to take.
It is also a reminder for all of us to never stop questioning and interrogating the spaces we put our children in. The cultural future of the world depends on it.