Thursday, April 01, 2010

Instead of Education

What if we didn't 'Educate' at all? Would we end up being more educated as a population?

Imagine this: a world where we never talked about education. We simply learned. There were no curriculums, no bodies of information that we all 'ought to know,' 'should know,' 'must know' by a certain age. A world where people were left alone to unfold as they will. There would be that many more paths to take, that many more ways of being. Would our world look much different from what it is today? Would people be happier?

I mean, imagine if we obsessed about when our kids learned to walk. What if they had to pass a test to show that they could actually walk properly? I am certain that a lot of kids would 'fail' walking.

The idea of 'education as something distasteful and fundamentally wrong is not a new idea and has been seen suggested by great thinkers like Ivan Illich,John Holt and later writer Aaron Falbel.

Back in 1976, Holt defined education as "something that some people do to others for their own good, molding and shaping them, and trying to make them learn what they think they ought to know."

Influenced by Illich, Holt wrote,
"Education... now seems to me perhaps the most authoritarian and dangerous of all the social inventions of mankind. It is the deepest foundation of the modern slave state, in which most people feel themselves to be nothing but producers, consumers, spectators, and "fans," driven more and more, in all parts of their lives, by greed, envy, and fear. My concern is not to improve "education" but to do away with it, to end the ugly and anti-human business of people-shaping and to allow and help people to shape themselves." Instead of Education
John Holt produced a magazine called "Growing without Schooling'; Falbel proposed one to be called 'Growing without Education.'

Falbel writes in his essay "Growing without Education,"
I might quibble with Holt about that last bit regarding helping people to shape themselves, but I'll leave that for another essay. What I want to emphasize here is that Holt and Illich's critique of education is linked with a larger critique of modern society in general.
In other words, their objection to education is part of a certain political outlook, which homeschoolers may or may not share. My aim in writing this essay is not to convince readers to adopt this political outlook; but if readers do share these concerns about the fate of modern society, I'd like to invite them to explore the way in which education is a key component of the mess we're in.

Read more here:


Anonymous said...

This would mean anarchy

Bob Collier said...

Would that be such a bad thing?

The idea that "anarchy" means lawlessness and social chaos is possibly today's most popular perception of the concept, but it can also mean simply allowing people to decide for themselves without waiting for instructions or official permission.

Now that mobile digital technology has gifted us all the opportunity to learn anything anyhow anywhere anytime (see, for example, Gordon Dryden and Jeanette Vos's book "Unlimited" or Judy Breck's website), such artificial educational devices as "a national curriculum for achools" - something now being introduced in Australia, where I live - are clearly representative of only a very thin slice of what is now readily accessible for everybody to learn. Why shouldn't we all be free to choose for ourselves what we believe we need to know to be successful in the world rather than assuming that nanny knows best?

rfs said...

Good points. Briefly Anarchy "proposes the cooperative and voluntary association of individuals and groups as the principal mode of organized society."
We are already living this way in many ways. We just need to "widen the circles of action," to quote an anarchist- Colin Ward

Goodman said...

widen the spheres of free influence, that would be Paul Goodman...

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