Thursday, 7 May 2009

Unexamined Assumptions regarding Children and Education

After a week of travel in Cornwall and a weekend at Triban’s Beltane Festival I am rested and also ready for the summer. My festie fitness is good, and my ears are fine. My travel pack is sorted, must remember to pack my flip-flops …. Walking around in steel toe capped boots in the sunshine is not the best way to treat my wonderful long enduring feet. I love my feet. They get me places.

One of the common threads in all my conversations with folks as I travel and sing, is the series of unexamined assumptions that we have all been indoctrinated with….

1. Children need an authority over them. (which excludes their own authority … the writing of their own script in the story of their own lives as much as it excludes their respect for competent adults who care for them, a respect for that which is deeper than ‘authority‘ … as in an empathetic moral code)

2. Children need both parents…. (which excludes the fact that a natural child needs an extended family that is merged with community…not to mention nature … nature deficit syndrome)

3. Children need to be taught to read, write and count. (which excludes childrens proven ability to learn these skills when their own motivation impels them to do so….and do this very quickly, 30 hours for reading, 50 for math, similar for writing - and when they do so ,their comprehension exceeds that of standard education on all tests!)

4. Children need school for ‘socialisation’. (see point 2)

5. Teachers are doing their best. Head-teachers are doing their best. (which excludes the activities and intent of Departments of Education Ideological Psychologists and their advisors from philanthropic foundations who pretty much design all the details of tests, texts, lessons and teachers documentation - tracking - of students progress, things which teachers and head teachers have no input into, and which they do not resist.) By NOT examining the foundations of education and by NOT resisting the imposed bureaucracy, teachers fail themselves and the children entrusted into their care.

6. Being a ‘good teacher’ can help children (which excludes that being a ‘good teacher’ in a bad system merely prolongs the bad systems life … in much the same way a ‘good prison guard’ will attempt to help those inmates he or she meets, yet his or her presence as a prison guard supports the toxic system and can be used by it’s originators as a PR tool. “Look at our nice smiling policeman who has helped a cat down from a tree!”) Of course individual teachers CAN and DO help individual children, these instances are in such a minority so as to be worthless. Not recognising and challenging that is a failing, even for 'good' teachers

These 6 unexamined assumptions form the basis of personal understanding of education for most people. The excluded realities are rarely mentioned. (don’t mention the war!).

The fundamental assumption underlying all these is that children are not to be trusted. This appears to me to be insane - we trust the seed to grow, we trust our legs to walk, our eyes to see our lungs to fill with air so why this mistrust of children?

Thus for most folks the constant revision and change appears to be attempting to resolve the ‘problems’ of schooling, whilst in reality it is by design and intent exacerbating those problems.

There are many unexamined assumptions that derive from the process of education, such as the desirability of ‘progress’, the benign intent of Kings and Prime Ministers, the supremacy of Western Industrial Democracy, or of Humankind over Animals, that exams prove the presence of intelligence and knowledge, that men and women are different in their core beings, and so on…..

The existence of Gods, or Aliens, or Demons, or Evil as a solitary force are other unexamined assumptions taken as though they are real …. These ones in particular derive from religious indoctrination.

It’s good practice to explore such assumptions, and to find one’s own intuitions and to then find ways to test those learnings.

Kindest regards


Do what you love, it's your gift to universe

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