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 have received a blizzard of positive and negative feedback from my two controversial blog posts, What Teachers Really Need to Hear From Parents and What Parents Really Want to Tell Teachers: What You Do Hurts Our Children. Both of my posts were in response to the exasperatingly child and parent-disparaging CNN post, What Teachers Really Want to Tell Parents by Ron Clark. The most common complaints from people were:
1. “You are over-generalizing all teachers in your post- Not all teachers believe/act the way you and Ron Clark presented that they believe/act”,
2. “Teachers hands are tied- they can’t be blamed for what the system forces them to do”,
3. “You should encourage people to try to fix the system rather than blame teachers”,
4. “Parents are the ones who are the problem because they aren’t involved”,
5. “Democratic schooling/Unschooling is only possible for a privileged few families and isn’t realistic for society as a whole”.
Sadly, the actual impact of the school system on the human beings who are the most damaged by it was glaringly left out of these types of arguments. [...]
I am sharing the words of my 17 year old son in response to Ron Clark’s article, What Teachers Really Want to Tell Parents. Brycen is an unschooler and the vocalist and songwriter for his Glam Metal band project, Serenade II Darkness.
by Brycen R. R. Couture
This is my second response to Ron Clark’s article, What Teachers Really Want to Tell Parents. My Mom, Laurie A. Couture, also wrote a response to his article, What Parents Really Want to Tell Teachers. This is what I say from a child’s perspective to Ron Clark and to teachers like him. [...]
Many parents are shaking their heads at the audacity and insolence of the CNN article, What Teachers Really Want to Tell Parents by Disney-and-Oprah-endorsed teacher, Ron Clark. His article is dangerous because it represents how the majority of traditional school teachers view children, parents and teachers’ roles as authorities over children’s lives. In my post, What Teachers Really Need to Hear From Parents, I challenge Ron Clark to consider the dehumanization of children and the undermining of the parent-child bond in the institution he represents.
Most parents in industrialized societies are conditioned by their own schooling to be obedient and unquestioning of their children’s schools and the so-called authorities therein. A frightening majority of parents are unaware that most everything that traditional school teachers do is developmentally inappropriate and even harmful for youth of all ages. However, a growing movement of parents are parenting through awareness, consciousness and connection to their children’s needs. Many of these parents are opting out of public and traditional schools are are seeking refuge for their children in child-centered and democratic schools or through homeschooling and unschooling. As a mother of an unschooling teen son, and based on the years of complaints I have heard from parents and their children about traditional schools, I have compiled a list of concerns and presented them to teachers in the context of their own education: [...]
A responder to The Huffington Post article about “education reform” wrote that children “must” be “prepared” by schools to “compete” in the global market. The responder stated that children should not get the impression that the world can meet their needs! This was my response to that person’s comment:
Why “must” children do anything for the global market? I don’t understand this view of seeing children as cogs in the system or pawns for the government. Children have a birthright to live and learn in freedom and in joy, according to their own passions and interests. They do not HAVE to “prepare” for anything, let alone to assist the government in staying a world power. The world can fit everyone’s needs. The school has never fit children’s needs, not even their most basic physical needs. It certainly does not fit children’s emotional, creative and intellectual needs and in fact mangles children.
The young human being is not born to be some cog in a system or some test score to increase globalization. The young human is born to play, explore, learn, create, invent, dream and receive love and connection from parents and support and inspiration from friends and the community. Anything less is oppressive.
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 16 year old unschooled son and I watched TODAYshow’s Matt Lauer interview President Barrack Obama on education reform this morning. It was a frustrating and depressing scene to watch, as the President inadvertently outlined the problem- that American children’s performance in math and science has declined sharply in one generation- but he was unable to make the connection that the decline occurred during the time when public schools became increasingly standardized!
In the 1990′s and 2000′s, high stakes standardized testing, teaching-to-the-test, increased homework and policies of homework for all grade levels (including for children as young as preschool) became the law of the land. Schools began to slash hands-on learning, recess, movement, outdoor free time, play, art, music, fun activities and field trips, further causing distress and trauma to the bodies and the psychological, creative and intellectual well being of public school children. With this frantic teach-to-the-test mentality of schools, these deprivations of childhood joy needed to become standardized practice in order to corral and indoctrinate millions of children into one cookie-cutter system, with results that guaranteed the failure and mediocrity of the many. These deprivations would quickly come to include the abuse of children’s bio and neurochemisty as well. [...]