It takes a village to raise a child was a book based on an African proverb.
The school is one of the parts of the village that is community owned. When the conventional wisdom of the village decides that all children should receive the same services often the school is asked to provide. Students need immunizations, let it be a requirement for school. Children need to eat healthier, let the school serve lunch, and breakfast. Students aren’t entering school ready to read, start school younger. Field trips to farms, museums, and even bowling alleys all become common background experiences for students to share. Some may feel that schools are asked to do too much and some think they should do more, but that is a question of detail. Like it or not schools, even home-schools and virtual schools, are an integral part of what it means to grow up in America, and most of the world.
I don’t think it is wrong to tie the common needs of students to school. I think it is wrong when we expect everything to be done by the school when we still think of school just a place to learn stuff.
Schools are the place where learning occurs. Specifically schools teach the basic building blocks for higher-level learning and discussion that will be expected of students later in life. For many this means learning to read, write, some history, and arithmetic.
In a village school students learn these basic when they learn the one most important skill the ability to think. Students in a village school don’t learn to read because there are letters and words to memorize, reading is learned because that is the best way to share experiences and convey information. History, Math, Science all become tools to use to explore and share the world and bring value back to the village.
In the end schools have two related purposes: to nourish the desire to learn and give students the tools to continue learning on their own.