The miseducation of society.

Learning Beyond Schooling asked : Wouldn’t it be interesting if report cards were on teachers and the students evaluate their teachers’ performances? and it elicited a thread of comments.

My comment would have been a little too long to include and I dare not impose upon others, unless of course, they clicked the link and arrived at this page.

In the end it is not a matter of to school or not to school; it is a question of whether we educate for Freedom or we miseducate them into the trappings of life.  ~ Sloane

I think though, that if we simply removed the thinking that Teachers are authority figures and that we need “learning institutions” to learn we would stand in the eye of the storm and see that the only problem with education is the fact that we all bought into the idea of systemized learning – that we need higher authorities, institutions and systems in order for learning to be valid.

I’m commenting along the lines of Ivan Illich’s theme in Deschooling Society. This book, published in the 70s reminds us that we homeschooling parents are neither forward-looking nor ahead of our time. We are, if anything, contemporary. We are simply living according to the rhythm of our time. We are at a phase in a sort of Maslow’s hierarchy where we can take a certain resource for granted : literacy and information to feed that literacy.

What is happening with most middle class parents’ disgruntlement with our “education system” can go away if instead of complaining about who is supposed to do what and what is supposed to or not supposed to happen we simply accept that Humanity has come of age in terms of Literacy. By 2010 we can take literacy for granted. I know a lot of people will argue that in poor societies there are no schools for students to go to and thus are subject to a glass ceiling because of their illiteracy.  But has anyone stopped to think about this : That what we call “illiterate” is only illiteracy because of the our mass illusion that contributes to validating the benchmarks systemized,institutionalized learning has put in place? What we call “lost opportunities” in the economic hierarchy is simply, really,  a failure to conform to a paper-chase, a failure to conform to a mass illusory self-perpetuating idea of superior ability to learn / knowledge propagated by the blind, unexamined acceptance of standardized, systemized learning.

Instead of raising and wasting billions of dollars on building more and more cement blocks, training more and more teachers, printing textbooks that become outdated even before they are printed in a vain feel-good humanitarian effort to bring an idea of egalitarian literacy to every person we should instead focus on breaking the mass illusion we hold which compounds the dysfunction of systemized, institutionalized, learning.

Learning is an innate human drive – and I believe, so is literacy. All we need to do is focus on building the infrastructures : solar powered / green powered societies to run free laptops that can access wireless / satellite internet whose speed and capacity can be taken for granted. That is how to power the future of education.

Sure, there’s the irreplaceable snob factor of being able to hold a physical book in your hand. With free or almost free energy source, free laptops and free wireless access, Amazon.com is just a click away.

After more than 25 years of fighting the whole idea of schooling in my head I’m starting to turn away from focusing on what’s wrong and what should change within the “education system”.  There’s only a problem because we accept the existence of institutions to validate our learning and control our minds. There was a time and place and an experience we, as a civilization, had to undergo. The rapid change in almost every aspect of living as we break through the 20th Century and begin life in the 21st Century has rendered large institutions that cannot adapt quickly irrelevant.

My call is that instead of focusing on training better teachers or building better schools or implementing this and that, we should all just stop perpetuating the illusion that we need institutions or systems to learn. I believe what the 21st Century holds for learning is this : that Learning Systems serve only as a repository of learning records, not as Judge, Jury and Executioner as what has happened throughout the 20th Century. We will still need some kind of System to track learning but not to Judge our capacities but instead of help us track our own progress, much like a faithful nutritionist or gym instructor helping us chart our weight loss / gain progress.

Right now schooling as an institution plays Judge, Jury and Executioner upon the potential of millions upon millions of young people, rendering them feeling either hopeless or hypocritical or falsely secure about their own potential and their purpose in life. The problem is we allow it to. Arguing against the thing (schools, ministries, examinations), believe it or not, validates it existence even more.  Systemized, institutionalized learning as we knew it in the 20th century can only exist with the support of the collective mass illusion of individual members of society validating them. It’s all in our mind.

Let’s ask ourselves : What would happen if with a stroke of inspiration, 1 million people suddenly awaken and become aware that the entire schooling institution is an illusion? These 1 million people would not argue with a phantom if they realize the nightmare is a figment of their imagination.

My ideas are far-fetched and my rhetoric  heavily anti-authority. The only authority we need is the authority over ourselves. We have been schooled out of our innate sense of Destiny and Autonomy. So many people are questioning their meaning and purpose in life, questioning the sick and dysfunction society they felt they have had to conform to.

Putting myself in the shoes of the policy-makers at the wake of Industrialization and Industrial schooling I can forgive them for being informed with a worldview that some races are superior to others and some traits are more desirable than others. That same worldview has created a system of MISeducation that has segregated humanity, severed Body and Mind from Soul and informed our prejudices about what Intelligence means and the means to measure Intelligence.

What are the ideals of Humanity? The idea of democracy remains a  farce until every individual is free to be and to live to their fullest potential. Liberty, Freedom & the Pursuit of Happiness. And we can only be free if our decisions are correctly informed, our realities carefully examined and our actions conscientious. Does any current education dare to educate a Child to grow up in the pursuit of happiness? In the end it is not a matter of to school or not to school; it is a question of whether we educate for Freedom or we miseducate them into the trappings of life.

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1 Comment

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One response to “The miseducation of society.

  1. Bjorn J.

    There is obviously a lot to know about this. I think you made some good points in Features also.
    Keep working ,great job!

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