Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Whose Education? Take responsibility.



I've been looking through past blog postings and came across one I wrote for the Learning Revolution Facebook group for their weekly message- about two years ago now. I wrote about responsibility in education in the context of freedom.
It started like this: With freedom in education comes responsibility.
We have to be responsible for our learning; we have to take responsibility for being in this world. That's my message to you. I think it is the most important message you can 'teach' a kid.

Being responsible, taking responsibility is difficult to do. It means that you are accountable for your actions. It means admitting your mistakes and errors and having to do something about it-and not blaming someone else. That's tough. I want to say 'even for adults' but let's be honest, adults aren't that great at it. 
Who likes to admit that they are in the wrong?  That would be revealing weakness or ignorance and looking like a fool at times.

Viewed this way, school can provide such a relief; just let the school do it all for you. If it goes wrong, blame the school. If it goes right, credit the school. The school is a monolith; it will absorb all.

Taking responsibility forces you to understand that you are not the most important being in the world. Life would be that much easier if we learned from infancy that we are neither more important nor less important than the next person. Most of us learn it the hard way. Others never learn it.
But taking responsibility for your actions, education, life, is empowering. The secret? The more you do it, the better you become at it, the more you grew as an individual.

Learning in freedom and becoming educated in freedom means we need to give that freedom that we want for ourselves, to make decisions, to impact the world around us, and yes-to take responsibility of our actions as we grow- we need to extend it to our children. As much as you can, put the learner in charge of his/her learning.


John Gatto has said it over and over; you don't get an education.
"Nobody can give you and education. Education must be taken by those who want one. The will and dogged persistence of the seeker are the only essential tools needed to become educated. Teachers, text, money play only minor roles and papers, pencils, tests play no role at all."

That's taking responsibility on the road to self mastery.

As parents, educators, students, people interested in a learning revolution we can help a child or young person see that they have abilities, they have potential, so that they truly believe it but that they must take on that responsibility for themselves.
The challenge is one that they will want to accept.

In the post, I wrote the following:
Take very young kids. It's, "No. I do it," and "Let me!"
They want to do things; they want to challenge themselves. They are deeply insulted if you try and do it for them.
So in our commitment to revolution in education, let's nurture that compulsion for self autonomy. Let's not allow that urge for self sufficiency and inquiry be quelled or squished in our zeal to provide education.
I think we would do well to remember that when talking about autonomous, self- directed learning, our children are not the ones who need it the most. Our kids are perfect beings before the schooling mentality reaches them.
It is we, the adults, who need to divest ourselves of unexamined beliefs and the imprisoning expectations of society's well meaning people.

11 comments:

Darcy said...

This post really speaks to me as it took me a few years of unschooling to realize that my son's best learning came when I was not orchestrating it. Once I fully learned to let go, my son picked up the reins and started to spend all of his time actively engaged in learning those things that most interested him. At age 16, he now attends a private freedom-based school three days a week which offers the best of both worlds, freedom in learning and exposure to 20 of his similarly unschooled peers.

I have learned that with freedom, great things come and I love all of the areas of interest my son is pursuing and the time he has to explore them fully. No ringing bells to answer to and the ability to be his own person away from the cultural expectations of a typical public high school. I can't imagine my son wasting his time there, being told what to think, what to learn and being molded into who they'd like him to be. Following mundane rules that will be imprinted on him the rest of his life, stifling the creativity and joy right out of him.

There is a better way and I am glad the the tide is changing and more parents are starting to understand the damage schools do to young people. Get your child out of school if they are in it watch the magic unfold. Don't be fooled into thinking schools are OK in some situations. They aren't. There is a reason kids say they hate school.

rfs said...

@Darcy-I really appreciate your comment.As adults we mean well for our kids,but sometimes we let our years in lessons on conformity (fears) get in the way of their dreams.

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