For those families going to London this fall, (which is probably none of us but this site sounds so exciting and cosmopolitan when I start a post that way, doesn’t it?) there’s an exhibit at the Victoria & Albert Museum called Disobedient Objects. The exhibition is a celebration of our natural ability to break rules.
It’s a human need to be part of a group—we are inherently social beings – but it’s also a human need to break rules that don’t seem right to us.Part of growing up is learning how to balance the two needs. You don’t want to end up in jail, and you don’t want to end up in a mental ward—the inevitable results of either extreme compliance or non-compliance to rules.The curator of the exhibit, Gavin Grindon, is eloquent in her approach to disobedience. The objects are like poetry in their simple, touching way of getting under the skin of convention.
The photo up top is the Throw & Grow Flower Grenade to protest the lack of nature as city governments sell off all their land to businesses.And in a nod to Occupy Wall Street, Andy Dao and Ivan Cash created Occupy George, a site where you can get dollar bills stamped with creative red lines that turn the money into protest art about the 1%.
Grindon says, “Many of the rights and freedoms we take for granted were won by disobedience. Oscar Wilde called it man’s ‘original virtue.’”
That got me to thinking about how difficult it is to teach kids to balance following rules vs breaking them. School is adamant that kids need to conform so they can be tested. But also so the teachers can handle the 30:1 student-teacher ratio. In fact, even among teachers who say they admire creativity, there is a huge bias against kids who don’t fall in step with everyone else.
This situation is especially bad because obedient children are cause for concern. Kids need to be rebellious to be healthy.
But I’m not sure parents are any better than schools at teaching kids to break rules. Because the decisions parents make become the rules. So how could parents encourage the kids to break the rules? It is human nature to protect kids, not encourage them to go against the grain.
Unless, of course, the parents are going against the grain. Parents of homeschoolers are rule breakers themselves.
Maybe what that means for homeschooled kids is that it’s going against the grain of the school status quo. That’s consistent with predictions that Gen Z will be rule followers. Also, there are tons of books that teach kids to question authority, including a book called A Rule is to Break: A Child’s Guide to Anarchy. And I’m pretty sure that once the rule-breaking parents tell kids that disobedience is good and part of the family values, then it would be most disobedient of kids to say they want to be a follower.