Monday, April 9, 2012

Children and schooling

Today, some people will naturally question the thinking of some of those who lived during the days of slavery, "How could they ever have thought that was right?"

It seems so obvious to us today that such an institution of domination and oppression is an anathema to the conscientious; so much so, as to be unthinkably justifiable.

I propose that we think carefully of other groups of persons, that we have a tendency to treat as less than, autonomous human beings, worthy of the full dignity of humanity.

For some day, I would submit, they may possibly ask of us, how could we possibly have subjected young children and adolescents to compulsory schooling.

Will history be so kind to us for our use of domination?

They may someday, marvel agast, that we might subject children and adolescents to a place where they were separated into age-cohorts, and thereby separated them from the natural scaffolding of skills (Vygotsky), from socializing with different age-cohorts, from learning from their elders and from being able to assist and teach those younger.

Furthermore, they may someday cringe to hear, that under compulsion, those children and adolescents were compelled by orders given by designated authorities figures, to present themselves in specific rooms/places for the obstenive purpose to learn a specified lesson, designed by some other adult in a position of authority, and they were under further coercion to stay in that room, and obey the instructions of that authority figure, until a Pavlovian bell was to ring, then they would transfer themselves to the next room and the next authority figure, like so many ants scurrying around the ant-farm.

Those in the future, looking at our time, may mutter in horror when they are told that, sometime the children were coerced into obedience of rules, such as raising their hand to ask permission to speak or even go to the bathroom!

They will gasp when those of the future will be told that a place supposedly for learning, had 'experts' decide for entire masses of children, what they were to learn (curriculum), and that only a small portion of students had a customized curriculum, and even that would usually be nothing more than a modification of the standardized curriculum.

They may wonder in disbelief, that having subjected the children and adolescents to all this, we then tested them on their obedient diligence to learn what we have told them to learn (standardized testing) and where much social approval of the authorities comes from successful obedience.

There are, of course some children who take readily to such a system; they barely feel the yoke around their necks compelling them to follow instruction dutifully. For some, such a system may do little damage... But for so many, it would seem to create great harm.

The child who succeeds in such a system in order to receive the approbation of the authorities/adults is unknowingly scarred by the process; such a child never learns to value herself, for the sake of herself and is rather taught to look externally for the approval of others for her needs of recognition/respect.

Where the implicit goal of such a system, must be the transformation of children into soldiers and factory- workers; obedient, diligent ... but dull-witted.

The implicit purpose of such a system, as it has been designed, could only be to teach children that, for the most part, "education" and "learning" is tedious, dull, and unpleasant.

The terrible & tragic result of such an institution of domination that compulsory schooling must be, by its very nature, is to drive out as much curiosity from children and adolescents as possible and to replace it with obedience to authority figures.

Will history be so kind to us?

Some tweets that I put out that inspired this little diatribe:

To be instructed, is not education, nor is it learning; to be successfully instructed you must be obedient; to learn is to question & inherently, to disobey...

A school is not a place of learning; actually a school is the anti-thesis of education; a school is where curiosity & ideas goes to die.

Compulsory education is a contradiction in terms; if it is compulsory it is an oppression; if it is freely sought, it is an education.

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