Posted by: Tracy Barsamian | November 1, 2013

The Workplace

So the girls and I attended a Halloween party at Rob’s workplace.  It was like Christmas for the girls – a trip into the city, time with their dad AT HIS WORK, lots of candy…  What really struck me at this party was how much the grown-ups (the employees) were enjoying themselves!  They decorated.  They dressed up.  They bought bags and bags of candy.  They were just so delighted to have children at their workplace.  Almost everyone thanked us for coming to their awesome party!

This really got me thinking about how unhealthy it is for adults to be cooped up in their offices all week – away from children!  Their own children, of course, but just children in general.  I immediately thought of the quote by John Taylor Gatto that I shared in my recent post about Networks vs. Communities.  Gatto states that “Our school crisis is a reflection of this greater social crisis. We seem to have lost our identity. Children and old people are penned up and locked away from the business of the world to an unprecedented degree; nobody talks to them anymore. Without children and old people mixing in daily life, a community has no future and no past, only a continuous present. In fact, the term “community” hardly applies to the way we interact with each other. We live in networks, not communities, and everyone I know is lonely because of that.”  Now Gatto is totally right.  Kids and old people are totally disconnected from everyday life, but what I was seeing in this workplace is how much the workforce missed being around children!

And guess what?  On the way home from the party, I came up with a *bright idea*!  What if companies (and I know this would be easiest for large companies like the one Rob works for) opened up learning centers (kinda sort like a school, but not really) on their campuses?  What if kids went to work with their moms and/or dads?  What if the learning centers were effectively woven into the fabric of the company?  A software company, for example, is perhaps the BEST place for a budding computer programmer!  Imagine if the staff at nursing homes could bring their children to work?  The residents, the employees, and their children would all get so much out of their time together!  I know that John Holt, the father of unschooling, allowed employees to bring their (unschooled) children to work.  And all parties – young and old – LOVED it!

Another benefit to businesses would be employee retention!  If your kid loves the learning center she attends at your work, you’ve got quite a reason to stay put!

Rob’s concern is that all this togetherness would adversely affect employees’ “time on task”.  And that he would lose his few precious minutes of alone time each day – his commute and lunch hour.  Ha!  But what if we change the lens?  What if look at how much happier being with our children/parents would make us?  Perhaps that happiness and gratitude would actually increase overall productivity, despite the decreased time on task?  There is only one way to find out!!  Where’s my megaphone?!


  1. I think this is such a strong point, and ties in with your elaboration on the important difference between networks and communities. It is so true that we systematically separate children (and the elderly, you’re right), for so many years, keeping them completely disconnected from the world and then expect them to emerge somehow as fully engaged citizens. I like your ideas– and will be at your first rally 😉

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