Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Continuing debate...

My first video, that started the whole thing, is here.

The post about the first part of our discussion, along with the four videos we made going back and forth between our opinions is here.

Annnd, he made several more response videos, the first of which I responded to in written format. We've both agreed to end the back and forth videos things, because it was taking A LOT OF TIME (I believe the current amount of video time, including my original video, is around 60 minutes... Yikes!). I'm not sure whether the discussion will continue in written form, so for now I'll simply post his one video that I responded to, and just give you a link to his channel if you with to see his other videos.

Hunter's channel

My response:

"Yup, I know about percentage of brain use (I think you might be a bit low (I thought it was around 10%) but other than that, yeah). I agree, your brain can be tricked. But, and this s important WE AS HUMANS HAVE NOTHING BUT OUR BRAINS TO RELY ON FOR INFORMATION. Yup, I have a strong interest in education, and I'm aware of the main learning styles as well. Here's what you're missing: people, if let too, will learn what style suits them best. Not because they've done research, but because they are living and learning. You don't need to know the names for different learning styles to know what you enjoy doing most, and what things you retain the most information from.

Yup, I think we're going to have to agree to disagree on that point, because nothing will convince me that people are not born with an innate desire to learn. And, if you do your research, youll see that that is true. We, as a species, would die out if we did not learn. Learning is innate, absolutely and completely.

Okay, what you're saying is "way back in history". What I'm saying, is pre-history, as in pre-civilization, as in tribal peoples. And you've just hit one of my biggest pet peeves. "Didn't have the desire to be anything more than they were"?? What does that mean? They were human. Were they supposed to desire to be more than human? Different than human? What our culture does is say that we are the pinnacle of existence. We, in this culture, in this day and age, are what everything was moving towards. From the first bit of slime that crawled out of the ocean, everything, all of creation, was simply to produce Us, modern civilized humans. You could call it Manifest Destiny, I suppose, as so many high ranking murderers have in the past. And look at us! The single species that regards our lives, human lives, to be above all else, that have destroyed vast parts of the world, made whole places uninhabitable. Look at us. What a great job we've done, as we sit waiting for it all to come tumbling down around our ears. And that's not even to mention how god damned HAPPY we all are. Monumental rates of depression, high suicide rates, drug addiction, messed up families wherever you turn. And that's not to mention how it's only a tiny percentage of the overall human population that is NOT living in poverty, dying young from disease and famine and drought and war. Yet you have the guts to say that the people who came before, and still survive unharmed in a couple of tiny pockets, the rest having been annihilated, shut away on reserves, or assimilated, and you say that they never tried to be more than what they were. They stopped when they "reached a certain plateau of happiness". What the fuck is wrong with being happy, and deciding to stay like that, happy, instead of destroying the environment surrounding you, the environment that sustains you, for some imaginary future world, future gain, future I have no fucking clue what? Really, none of us in this culture have ANY right to look down upon the people in our species who knew, and know, how to live in equilibrium with the world.

You have a strange view of happiness, although I get what you're saying, but you're mistaken about tribal peoples, once again. As you may have noticed, that's one of my main passions. From anthropological research, tribal peoples had the most egalitarian societies of any culture in our species' history. They had the most leisure time of any culture, EVER, spending only about 5 hours of "work" a day
(the exact time for different tribes and different parts of the world vary, and anthropologists argue over what constitutes "work", but everyone seems to agree that it was somewhere between 3 and 7 hours a day). The rest was complete leisure time, spent socializing, playing games, and similar things. They lived (and live) in small bands/tribes, so it's a real community, and a real support network. Also, anthropologists studying the San !Kung people of the Sahara desert found that they're happier on a whole than civilized folk, regularly laughing with abandon, joking around, smiling. Their children are not expected to do any work until they're in their late teens or early twenties. People over fifty are not expected to work, either, and in one of the harshest climates in the world, excluding infant mortality, they can be expected to live, on average, to nearly 70 years of age. Wow, that was a major rant. Sorry about that! Like I said, its a subject close to my heart lol.

Why should people have anything other than happiness? Honestly, life is short. I don't see any point to life BUT happiness! Why go further than you want to go? I honestly don't understand that at all. If you're happy, and love life, that's all anyone could ask for. If you're not happy, then you make changes in your life until you are. People should be pushed to "do better"? Depends on your definition of better. It sounds to me like you feel that you need to prove something to the world, and not simply that you want to be happy in life. So every time you're happy, you have to leave that happy place? And what's contributing to society, in your books? Most people, and I do mean most, want to do good. Doing good things (I'm defining good as things that preserve or enhance quality of life for either human or other animals, or increases the happiness/health/wellbeing of others) makes people happy. Helping fellow humans or fellow creatures makes people happy. Just being generally good makes most people happy! I mean, I look at what I want to do in life. I want to learn a ton about herbal healing, natural health and wellness, and be able to help people learn how to take care of themselves. I want to be a strong advocate of unschooling, and help and support families and students who decide to leave the school system. I also want to be a part of a green community, to held build truly sustainable communities. All of these things are deep passions of mine, things that I see as being helpful to others, while also being things I truly care about and enjoy doing.

Welfare works differently here. As does the whole health care system (public health care). And, do you think its right that, where you live, the government controls people to such an extent? I certainly don't.

I originally sent this to Hunter unproofread, so I fixed it up a bit here for clarity and reading pleasure.



  1. This debate with Hunter is surprisingly sophisticated, considering how you both are under 25. :-)

    One thing that may help the debate is examples of people who lead, or have led, lives of self-directed education. An example I'm fond of at the moment is Charles Darwin, who failed in normal school, was taken out of it by his father, then put into Edinburgh University to become a doctor-- hated it and failed there-- then his dad sent him to Cambridge to become a clergyman (which he had no interest in becoming and never did become).

    Yes, he did get his degree from Cambridge, eventually, but so did lots of other people who did NOTHING to advance science. The reason why Darwin is famous is his relentless curiosity and focus, over many years, his lack of disabling vices (drugs, gambling, etc.), and the support of his father, wife, children, and colleagues who created an environment in which he could work.

    Darwin's father pushed him through the educational system in order that he not become one of those rich kids who just lives of a trust fund. But look at Darwin's brother, Erasmus! He appears to have been very good in school, and graduated as a doctor, just as his father intended for him. THEN NEVER PRACTICED MEDICINE, but instead lived as a socialite in London off of his allowance!

    One of the big problems discussing unschooling and the dynamics of learning in children and adults is that most people are completely unfamiliar with intellectual biography. (Not many have been written, but Darwin has been studied extensively.) Another reason is they are unaware of the relevant research in education. Finally, they are consumed by fear and the sort of scarcity/competition mentality that afflicts Western society in general.

    Maybe we need to put together a list of biographies, references to papers, etc. that could from a study guide in defense of unschooling.

    -- James Marcus Bach

  2. [Preamble: I'll admit upfront that the whole unschooling idea is fairly new to me, as I am a product of the formal schooling process. What I will say, is that after reading more about it, I somehow inherently knew it was in me -- just beaten down. It struck such an accord with me after reading more about it.]

    In my dealings with people, the one thing that I see that drives "self education" is passion. Period. People may use different words under their own umbrella: curiosity, eagerness, interest, investigation, questioning, searching, inquisitiveness, etc. This is what you refer to above as "Learning is innate, absolutely and completely."

    I have met many "well-schooled" people who do not contribute anything to their chosen area of interest, let alone contribute anything to their own curiosity. They learned how the education system worked, and stay within those confines. On the flip-side of that, I have dealt with a large number of self-schooled people who can engage not only themselves in a passionate life of education, but inspire others to do the same in their own lives. They ignite the flame of passion and curiosity in others.

    I was lucky enough to have a few teachers along the way who made me "think" as opposed to just regurgitate facts. One particular english teacher stood out amongst all the rest. At the time, his statement "Be AWARE of what you are doing. Ask yourself why are you doing that?" was profound to me, and has stayed with me all these years.

    What about people who really have a "passion" for learning, curiosity; can they thrive in the education as it exists now? Or, what about kids who we all know have that innate learning spark, that inquisitive mind we have all seen. Does the schooling system just squash that!?

    How are all these unschooled people going to "make it" in this current world where formal schooling has so much importance placed on it to succeed in the mainstream professions?

    Aren't we really coming full circle with If we look back at how people were taught/learned thousands of years ago? Alexander the Great was taught 'at home' by Aristotle more than 2,500 years ago.