06 Jun 2015

Too Much Thought? Here’s What to Do:

Category: Alternative Education,Learning,Self-Directed LearningAdmin @ 12:09 pm

Go to school for 13 or more years. I don’t mean just any school, but most schools.

Most of the political and ideological interests struggling for control of American education share some basic assumptions about the meaning and purpose of schooling in modern society. They assume that schools exist to transmit a certain body of knowledge, and a certain set of values, to young people. They assume that the community, or the state, has the right, indeed the obligation, to discipline children’s minds and abilities into occupations deemed useful to society. And for the most part, they assume that the economy is the central institution of modern life, and hence that outfitting young people for employment is the dominant purpose of education. The different interest groups disagree strongly over which body of knowledge and values should be transmitted, which activities are most useful, and which skills are most needed for economic success, but they do not quarrel over these basic assumptions

What are Schools For by Ron Miller (“Introduction,” P. 1. Holistic Education Press, 3rd Edition. https://great-ideas.org/)

We are born creative. Watch a toddler exploring and rearranging his world and hear him playing with language. It is not enough to imitate; as humans we must initiate, alter, and explore.
In preschool and sometimes in Kindergarten, children are given some leeway in following their own inclinations. After all, naked authoritarian direction doesn’t work very well. By “the terrible two’s,” most children have figured out the power of a very stubborn “No!” They are wired to direct themselves, and sometimes that means defying those who have other plans for them.

In times past, it was believed a child’s will had to be broken and rebuilt into a disciplined obedience. Obedience is no longer in favor. Authority is now clothed. To maintain control and peace, adults manipulate the child with “redirection” and rewards. Children learn the game of pleasing adults at the expense of learning to honor their own needs.

For the most part, the institutions of education do not teach creative thought. They stifle it. There are exceptions. For examples, one great place to look is the Alternative Education Resource Organization (AERO)’s website: www.educationrevolution.org.

Besides Ron Miller’s book (see above), I highly recommend lectures given by Sir Ken Robinson, a long-time and well-respected critic of education. Here’s one (YouTube, 2010) which discusses problems of the educational establishment and creativity. I particularly love the RSA Animate creative cartoon drawing that goes with it:

Sir Ken discussed similar topics at the Portland AERO conference in 2012 (which I attended. The conference was fantastic, by the way)

Enjoy, then spend time some time each day following your heart. And please encourage your children to do the same.

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