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SCHOOLING

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind, having spent a great deal of time in a variety of Primary school classrooms 'in charge', as a full-time teacher and, then, mainly 'on supply'  (1969 - 2007), that the system of Self-Governance outlined on these pages will require a very different, more relevant approach to education, by which it can be supported and reflected in order for it to function well.

So what might that be?  A good starting point, imho, would be to describe the characteristics of the current, mainly authoritarian and repressive provision for the education of our children/off-spring (the notes for which were mostly written down while I was in the classroom itself with a full complement of pupils.)

For the sake of convenience and clarity of thought, these might well be arranged under the following headings and sub-headings for is it not true that Education - a term derived from the Latin verbs educare (to raise, to bring up) and educere (to lead out, to instruct) - takes place wherever children and young people are placed in the company of Adults in an Environment, specifically designed for this purpose, and that this Environment consists of a Framework and its Content?

MAIN FEATURES

FRAMEWORK

Premises:

buildings - Government owned, theirs/not ours;
classrooms - generally cluttered, overcrowded;
furnishings - low quality, least expensive;
upkeep - farmed out, menialised;
ethos - closed-off, locked-in places of containment
in which to 'do time' while being required to learn something.

Daily Arrangements:

registration - an inhibiting distraction;
assemblies - an exercise in crowd control/being one of the herd;
playtimes - often wild, hectic, sometimes aggressive;
dinners - rushed, not very civilised;
timetable - a straightjacket;
ability groups - pupils labelled, most rejected;
lesson changeovers - unsettling, disorientating;
uniforms - identical, homogenizing;
attendance - compulsory.

Overall Organisation:

the school day - fragmented, disintegrated;
the school year - irregular, unbalanced;
Primary/Secondary split - disruptive;
State/Private divide - us and them;
good/bad schools - more division.

CONTENT

Yesterday’s:

narrow, pragmatic and limited,
producing an obedient and malleable workforce,
having been talked at/down to as a captive audience
under conditions of repression during formative years.

Today’s:

a learn-and-forget national curriculum,
prescribed, enforced, adult-dominated,
incomplete, lop-sided, overloaded,
spoon-fed, academic, computerised,
often irrelevant, joyless and boring;
result - a worksheet wilderness
taking place in an examination factory
creating a large number of failing/disaffected children
who have been sorted, sifted and graded
in order, later on, to occupy/know their place mainly
on the lower levels of the pyramids of wealth and power.

Tomorrow’s:

going round in circles,
continually being reassessed/altered by Government
in order to 'raise standards’ (mainly for economic reasons),
but going nowhere, except over old ground in new guises.

ROLE OF ADULT

In Charge of Too Many:

result - children mostly addressed en masse;
all round needs of each individual not met;
causing numerous learning/behavioural problems
and, given other unhelpful, personal and social circumstances,
many incomplete and damaged human beings;
reasons for large classes and huge schools - ‘lack of money’;
outcome - adults often stressed/under great pressure,
must impose control by generally being strict and bossy

(or, in the '70s, resorting to permissiveness and sentimentality).

Consequences of Being Authoritarian:

encouragement of self-control neglected;
initiative and imagination quashed;
healthy growth not allowed to take place;
negative attitudes bred;
harmful practices encouraged (bribes, verbal abuse, punishments);
but an excellent preparation for life after school as members of a
hierarchically-organised, sticks-and-carrots, competitive society.

AUTHORITY RULES OK!

Thus, it can be seen that our present method of educating children and young people relies on the use of force, is incomplete, repressive and often harmful.  But it trains the majority of our off-spring for a life of ‘wage-slavery’, as needful, dependent and unquestioning, ‘Crowded Individuals’!

It may have served a purpose in the past and moved us forward, as a race, in some areas of human development but it could never support and reflect the introduction of ‘a more advanced society’ which is being advocated here.

This authoritarian system, therefore, will also need to be transformed, gradually and carefully, into one which is 'libertarian’!

IN THE NEWS

1 in 5 pupils leave Primary school unable to read/write properly; 70 000 pupils play truant every day; 10 000 pupils per year are expelled; two out of every three teachers say indiscipline is preventing them from doing their job; there is one attack on a teacher every 7 minutes; 40 000 students train to become a teacher each year but 1 in 4 will quit within 5 years of qualifying; fifty per cent of graduates are educated for jobs that don’t exist; 55 000 children are administered adult prescriptions for anti-depressants each year.  (Figures applicable to recent years.)

(But please note.  The above observations are not to be taken as an attack on teachers themselves - most of whom, to my knowledge, are hard working and caring professionals - but on the system in which they are employed.)

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