I love your parenting posts. We are AP's and had a home water birth. I even dehydrated our placenta and encapsulated it for hormone rebalancing... (Although they actually made me crazy!)Anyway. Do you have children? How do you educate them? Homeschooling? Unschooling?
Sorry, but I limit the personal info I share on here, especially with Anon questions. No offense. I commend you on your AP commitment!
Let me reply generally by saying that I advocate homeschooling, unschooling, hackschooling, free schools, democratic education, and Montessori education. I find merits to all of these approaches. The key is to balance your children’s educational needs with that of the family. You can’t commit to any particular plan that puts too much stress on the family unit or impedes the parents’ ability to fulfill their primary roles as providers. And don’t feel limited to any one particular methodology, but try as much as is allowable to trust the instincts and interests of your child. The goal, or at least the goal I advocate, is to raise young people to be independent in thought and action. To be independent the child first needs to have the confidence and self-esteem to act independently, against the pressures of social conformity. Nothing instills confidence better than allowing children to take risks at an early age and to endure the consequences. Parents all too often try to buffer their child from the effects of their choices, but the child must be allowed to experience consequences, within reason of course. This feedback loop enables children to develop creativity, adaptability, resilience, skills necessary for independent living. Through this pattern of risk-taking and consequences the child then begins acquiring self-knowledge, another critical element of overall maturation. When combined together, independence, confidence, creativity, resilience, and self-knowledge all give people the best chance at success and overall happiness. So the goal of education isn’t to learn information or model behavior that pleases authority figures (pedagogues, politicians, or even parents). Instead, the end of one’s education and personal growth is one’s own happiness. That’s right, happiness at the center of education and life in general … a novel concept, right? :)
Sooooo … we can either continue to empower the institution by which this imbalance has been created (i.e. government) … or we can begin separating school from state so that young people can begin learning how to be creative and active job-creators rather than passive job-seekers and submissive test-takers.
Two ideas are very much in my mind. For one of them, I’ve drawn very heavily on the thought of writer Ivan Illich. (His work appears in the New York Review of Books. cf. “Why We Must Abolish Schooling,” 2 July 1970, pp. 9-15.) lllich says we must deschool society. My own way of putting it, which is not very different, but tactically helpful, is to say that we must dissolve the schools back into society. They seem to me to have precipitated or congealed—a little like a lump in a cream-of-wheat—and the thing we have to do is stir them back into the mix, so to speak. (I was once asked “Why spend all this time talking about improving the schools? We ought to close them down.” I said, “No, no, that’s not quite the way to put it—we ought to open them up.”)
One of the things I’ve learned in part from Illich—and in part from other sources; Paul Goodman has also been a great influence on my thinking—is that very recently in historical time, mostly within the past century, and mostly with—in the past half century, our society and, with,the possible exception of Tanzania, every country in the world, has done a most remarkable thing. We have locked up learning in schools. To put it another way, we have defined education (or learning) as schooling. We have decided as a matter of social policy to measure people’s education, their learning, their competence, and their job-worthiness almost entirely in terms of the amount and the fanciness of schooling that they’ve been able to consume. And every country in the world, as I’ve said, with the possible exception of Tanzania, because they’re too poor to do it, has taken this step. It is a disaster.
Peter Gray is a research professor of psychology at Boston College. He has conducted and published research in comparative, evolutionary, developmental, and educational psychology; published articles on innovative teaching methods and alternative approaches to education; and is author of Psychology (Worth Publishers), an introductory college textbook now in its 6th edition. He did his undergraduate study at Columbia University and earned a Ph.D. in biological sciences at Rockefeller University. His current research and writing focuses primarily on children’s natural ways of learning and the life-long value of play.
Through of a system of imposed regimentation and conformity over a period of many years, the state is able to produce malleable mindsets within people that mold themselves to whatever government officials say, mindsets that are unable and unwilling to engage in independent, critical thinking when it comes to major government policies.
The study of history is a powerful antidote to contemporary arrogance. It is humbling to discover how many of our glib assumptions, which seem to us novel and plausible, have been tested before, not once but many times and in innumerable guises; and discovered to be, at great human cost, wholly false.