Talk of “education reform” is viral all over the internet. Despite multiple failed attempts at “reform” over the past decades, society refuses to think outside the “box” of schooling and consider a radical return to how children learned for millennia- By playing, living and doing! Teachers and others in the field of education continue to propose that the oppressive, prison-like institution where children are forced to stay seated in a building all day pumping out paperwork can and should be reformed! When democratic schooling, homeschooling and unschooling advocates attempt to join the conversation and offer models that are successful and truly radical, they are often met by educators and their supporters who dismiss these models as idealistic and not “realistic” for “everyone”. Additionally, people seem not to be aware of the fact that despite talks of reform, the needs, voices and leadership of the people who are the most adversely affected by public schooling- youth- are left out of the conversation. [...]
I read this article in The Huffington Post about “education reform”: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/will-richardson/have-schools-reached-limits_b_853848.html. I don’t believe that a system designed to oppress children (and the population as a whole) can reform itself. Politicians have used the false promise of “reform” for decades now to gain votes. Politicians are aware that most people forget that “reforms” in the past have only worsened the school environment for children and caused it to be more oppressive. [...]
My son, Brycen is a free spirit, much like Mom! When his sense of intrigue and curiosity envelop him (which it does nearly every minute of the day), there is little that can distract him from passionately exploring, creating, wondering, questioning, researching and playing. Unfortunately, State legal requirements for homeschoolers are the few times in my son’s enriching life when he must take a break from living and learning and instead perform some task in order to produce some product for our annual portfolio that will cover some requirement in some mass-determined “subject” that some unknown person decided was necessary for all children his age to “learn”. Of course unschoolers know that nothing forced is truly learned, only finished and produced. [...]
This evening I read the first sentences of an online article speaking of teachers in almost fantastical, iconic-like terms, painting a picture of nurturing, loving caretakers wiping away children’s tears, inspiring the passion of youth and shaping the future. I felt the indignation and frustration of years of working with children ages 3 to 18, whose spirits, bodies and psyches have been mangled by traditional schooling, often at the hands of teachers.
Contrary to the sentimental, somewhat maudlin cultural imagery of school teachers pouring out selfless nurturance, tending to the needs of youth or lighting the passionate fires of inspiration in grinning, alert children, the youth I have worked with and met over the years have painted me a very different picture. And it ain’t no Mary Cassatt. For six plus hours every day traditional teachers indoctrinate, control, coerce, punish and regiment. They deny children their basic physical and emotional needs, hold children hostage against their will, stifle creativity and freedom of movement and force-feed them irrelevant, dull, boring theories and biased “facts” prefabbed by the government. They ooze ubiquitously into children’s home and free time with homework expectations that strangle play, exploration and family time. When children cannot tolerate the terrible, developmentally inappropriate environment of schooling, teachers are often the arm of the school system that coerces parents into believing their children are “disabled” and are thus in need of chemical restraint (aka: “medication”). [...]