Monday, July 23, 2012
Reply to @JoFoeSho regarding education & schooling
I am very interested in pedagogical (education) theory and technique, and as such, I often find occasion to post tweets or blog posts regarding what I see as what I consider to be authentic-learning/education as opposed to inauthentic/authoritarian/forced/coerced/domination-'learning'/'education'.
Just Jo (@JoFoeSho on Twitter) asked the question: "what if you have no choice but public school for your child"
I would like to express my intention of implying no criticism of parents who due to financial constraints or other extenuating circumstances, utilize public-"education" services. My concerns are that some people may be led to believe that what occurs in institutions of "education", could be confused with authentic-education and therefore, I post such things to inspire a re-thinking of what truly represents education; I wish to inspire teachers to re-think those pedagogic-memes that imply domination of children and inspire all persons to take children more seriously as persons, to respect their inherent dignity as human-beings that are in the process of development (which, we all are, or at least should be, in the process of development).
I can certainly understand, how a parent, hearing my criticisms of institutions of 'education' that imply memes of domination, could also hear in those criticisms, a judgement that they as parents are making the 'wrong' choice by sending their children to those institutions. While I have grave concerns regarding many wide-spread pedagogical approaches, I attribute no fault or blame to parents who, would wish for a better means of education for their children, are financially constrained or are otherwise unable to foster that education for their children.
Ultimately, to know how much a child/adult is actually harmed by an institution of domination, we may only ask the child/adult whether they enjoy their interactions within that institution; if they are happy and/or content by their participation in schools, then I suspect that little actual harm is being done (although this does not imply that any significant educational benefit is being conferred either).
I would encourage parents of any child, that for whatever cause, is not happy, is not contented, in their interactions within public-schools, to do everything reasonable given their means, to find some alternative to institutional-schooling.
I think that the good news, is that a parent need not "provide" an education to their children, for the "provision" of education as is the model of public-schooling is exactly the kind of meme that is at question; children are natural learners, and it generally takes 13 long years of inane pedagogy, tedium & boredom within a school, to drive out the native-curiosity of a high-school graduate; they have come to associate "learning" with learning what someone else tells you to learn, with tedious repetition of exercises that hold no interest, of a young-energetic body coerced to "hold still", "behave" and "be quiet" at hours at a time, before all interest in learning becomes associated with negative feelings of domination & exploitation.
Children when not dominated as described, are naturally curious about their world, they naturally want to copy and emulate the actions of adults, they want to understand, they want to learn the names of things, to understand how things work and they need only the opportunity and space to explore to learn. The answers, fundamentally cannot be given to the learner, the learner must first conceive of the question, before any "answer" will be relevant to their developmental-learning-needs at that time; therefore, the parent does not need to have a college-degree to provide a space for authentic-learning to occur; education cannot be "provided", it must be learned, but what can be provided, is the space to explore, to make mistakes, to ask questions, and then pursue where those inquiries/curiosities take the learner.
I would confess, that I am certified in this "state" as a public-school teacher, although, currently I have other employment. I have reservations regarding finding employment within the public-school system, because I feel it would be almost impossible, for even myself, to do no harm to children, and still maintain employment within an institution of domination. Currently, my daughter is two years old (we have another daughter soon to arrive into the world) and I am something of a stay-at-home papa for the time being. As my daughter grows older, I fully intend to offer her the opportunity to attend a public-school, with the understanding, that if she changes her mind and does not like the experience there, I would do everything within my means to allow her to un-school (like home-schooling, but learner-driven/inquiry-driven education). I would have no concerns whatsoever regarding her grades at school, I would possibly even encourage her not to do homework or study for tests she is not interested in; my research into the college recruitment and candidate evaluators indicates that grades are almost of no consequence to those evaluators if initiative and ability is demonstrated; and therefore I have no concern whatsoever, that my daughter would be barred or prohibited from post-secondary educational opportunities due any performance she may exhibit in primary or post-secondary schools.
My hope is that my words would provide you some idea of my intentions concerning my criticisms of public-"education" and that they would provide you with encouragement that all is not lost, that hopefully, if your children are content with their experience in schools, that likely, very little harm is being done them; that they have been strong enough to brush off the attempt to dominate and subjugate their natural curiosity, and such being the case, if need be, you may certainly consider public-schooling to be a "free" if inept day-care program, which allows you to work to provide for your family and allow them to experience what authentic-education is, in a loving-nurturing learning-space.