When I think of how and what I thought just 8 or 9 months ago, I still find it hard to believe how much my opinions and worldview have changed.
Take unschooling, for example. Last Spring I was going through a period of extreme doubting and uncertainty. Now, I feel that schools are the LAST place that children and teens should be forced to go.
I spent some time wandering around YouTube today, and found some interesting stuff on unschooling (this video of an excerpt from one of Jensen's talks where he speaks about education was good, as were several of this guys videos on education). But it was a news segment on exercise to prevent childhood obesity, filmed in an elementary school, that got me thinking. Just seeing kids in schools makes me shudder in horror. Seem like an extreme reaction? Perhaps, but to me schools epitomize everything I hate about our society. Those in schools are brainwashed into accepting the world for how it is, instead of trying to change things. They're taught to be obedient to authority, to take what's given to them without question. Everything is regulated, numbered, scheduled. Schools do their very best to separate students from reality, to make sure their allegiance is to country, government, and whoever happens to be the boss/teacher/leader, not to the natural world, their own community, or their own hearts. Schools are institutions, and I'd say THE most powerful and influential institutions out there. Who else has children in their grasp from age 4 or 5 until 18 (assuming, of course, that students decide not to go on to university. Schools can continue until someone is well into their 20's, or even their 30's!), taking up most of their time, forcing the students mind to be filled with whatever the school wants them to think. Schools scare me, and I hate them, because they are so very affective. “School is the advertising agency which makes you believe that you need the society as it is.” said Ivan Illich, and I find that quote to be very true. John Taylor Gatto is another man who has some very enlightening things to say about schools, and the history of their creation.
"The structure of American schooling, 20th century style, began in 1806 when Napoleon's amateur soldiers beat the professional soldiers of Prussia at the battle of Jena. When your business is selling soldiers, losing a battle like that is serious. Almost immediately afterwards a German philosopher named Fichte delivered his famous "Address to the German Nation" which became one of the most influential documents in modern history. In effect he told the Prussian people that the party was over, that the nation would have to shape up through a new Utopian institution of forced schooling in which everyone would learn to take orders.
So the world got compulsion schooling at the end of a state bayonet for the first time in human history; modern forced schooling started in Prussia in 1819 with a clear vision of what centralized schools could deliver:
1.Obedient soldiers to the army;
2.Obedient workers to the mines;
3.Well subordinated civil servants to government;
4.Well subordinated clerks to industry
5.Citizens who thought alike about major issues. "
How can anyone be in support of schools if they've done even a bit of research into their history? But I suppose people don't really research things on their own all that often, if it's not required for some test or other. Schools don't exactly encourage independant research, especially into controversial, and damaging to the institution, subjects. So having gone through school without ever being encouraged to learn for themselves, to explore, question, and not accept things at face value, how can we expect people to learn how to learn? Don't get me wrong, I do realize that some people can go through school and yet still manage to be creative, questioning individuals, but sadly this seems to be far from the norm.
I just can't get over how much I hate schools. I've seen the damage they do first person so often, in the lives of my schooled friends, and in the faces of the people whom I explain unschooling to. I hate what schools, and our society, do to people. But it all starts with schools. I honestly believe that were it not for compulsary schooling, our world would not be in the awful shape it is today. With an intelligent populationthat that knew how to learn and how to question, there's no way some of the crap that's currently going on would continue. And that's why I feel that it's a calling of sorts for me to do as much as I can in my lifetime to promote unschooling, to give people the information they need to see how wrong the whole schooling institution is, and to support those who make the awesome and I'm sure very scary decision to leave school, or to take their kids out of school.
I hope this rant wasn't too incoherent. I'm tired, have a headache, and I'm afraid I may be coming down with my sister's cold. But I felt a spark of inspiration, and I really wanted to rant, so I decided to write this, headache or not! As always, feedback is much appreciated. :-)