Monday, August 03, 2009

Institutionalized Education; Is this the best we can do?

I hear it said that what we have in place is "the best education available to many."

Is that really true? Can we honestly say that what passes as education, i.e. compulsory, state-controlled, mass schooling, is education?

The confusion stems from a misunderstanding of the definition of education as contrasted with schooling.

Schooling is imposed on a person; education is self achieved. Education is not given, but taken. With this understanding, can we honestly say that the best place to gain an education is between the four walls of a school room? For any body, rich or poor?

School worked for a while: 150 years during the time of rapid industrial growth, but does it still? Is mass, curriculum-driven schooling the best we can offer?

School is not flawless my friend, it is miles away from flawless. It can never be flawless because it is an idea that has had it's day.

Still, criticizing mass schooling is tantamount to insulting the Queen or country or God. Like an old tyrant, you can't say a word against it without fear of being persecuted, but like crumbling regimes of tyrants' progeny, it's time to retire or be torn down.

Just because the slaves have shoes and eat seven days a week doesn't make them free men and women.

As John Holt, one of the greatest thinkers on eduction of the 20th century said, "most slaves could not escape from slavery,yet no one suggested or would suggest that because all the slaves could not be freed, none should be." (Instead of Education).

So the weary and wearisome argument that school is our best hope for the children of the poor and disadvantaged, I just cannot buy. Instead, use the enormous amount of money spent on 'schooling' to let people manage their own education.

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