Before we started unschooling, my oldest went to a Montessori school for a number of years and a local public school for a few months. I don’t know if it was because we were paying a price tag for school for so long, but I found that there was a feeling of ownership over his education that I didn’t notice in other parents who kids went to public school. Because I was paying (a ridiculous sum of) money, I felt that I not only had a say in how he was spending his days, but that the school and teachers kind of worked for the families.

I bring this up because school, as an institution, often doesn’t treat the relationship between kids, families, teachers, principles, and school boards in this way. In fact, it kind of feels like it goes the other way: we are told that as educators, they are the experts and parents need to listen and obey in order for this institution to operate.

School isn’t the only type of institution that works this way: doctors, banks, heck – even the government seems to hold this power over it’s members and constituents.

But I don’t think that these were originally designed to be this way.

Schools should serve the students, listening to their input about how and what they are learning.

Banks and insurance providers should help the members by providing financial support and security.

Governments should meet the needs their people by providing services and programming that keeps everyone healthy and safe.

For some reason, this goal seems to be lost in the system that prioritizes profits, centralization of systems, and putting authority in the hands of the few rather than the many. The institutions that were created to serve the people seem to have become tools of power and of control.

Schools are used to teach social control, modified historical events, and enforce cultural genocide.

Banks and insurance providers soak customers and invest money in wars and the fossil fuel industry.

Governments take money from industry, pay themselves huge pay cheques, bail out dying industries in the name of economics, and deny services to those who need them the most.

This shift in institutions from organizations born out of the need to serve people to centres of power that are used to control is inherently colonial and is a focal point of neoliberalism. This process is worth fighting systemically through protest but also individually through change of perspective and the way we interact with these institutions.

If your kids are in school or have coaches or other teachers, remember that their job is to help and provide support, not control your child or you as a parent.

If your bank is investing your money in areas that you don’t agree with, consider transferring to a credit union.

And for fuck’s sake, stop supporting political parties that don’t ever have your best interest in mind. All politicians lie, cheat, and steal to get where they are. Their job is to uphold systems of control and oppression to ensure that everything continues on the same path of inevitable collapse.