Education and the Church, Education and the Family, Education and the Marketplace, Education and the State, Funding, Home-Based Education

Government-funded education and Fundamentalist Evangelicalism: the dependence must stop

According to North (1982) the concept of neutrality in the market place is a myth.  The myth, extended to education, has created an opportunity for the enemies of Jesus Christ to gain control of the institutions that drive culture.  Sadly, Christian Evangelicalism and Christian Fundamentalism, because of the influence of Pietism, have been on the cutting edge of promoting marketplace neutrality.  North’s answer to the problem, and anticipation of Fundamentalism’s response to the solution is as follows:

What is the proper argument?  Simple: there is no neutrality, and since there is no neutrality, the present legal foundation of government-funded education is a fraud.  Conclusion: close every government-financed school tomorrow.  Refund the taxes to the tax-payers.  Let the taxpayers seek out their own schools for their children, at their expense (or from privately financed scholarships or other donations).  No more fraud.  No more institutions built on the myth of neutrality.  But the fundamentalists instinctively shy away from such a view.  Why?  Because they see where it necessarily leads: to a theocracy in which no public funds can be appropriated for anti-Christian activities, or to anarchy, where there are no public funds to appropriate.  It must lead to God’s civil government or no civil government.  In short, it leads either to Rushdoony or Rothbard.  Most fundamentalists have never heard of either man, but they instinctively recognize where the abandonment of the myth of neutrality could lead them (North, 1982. p. 20).

Quite rightly, non-Christians object to state-raised funds being used for purposes that promote the Christian religion.  This is perfectly consistent with the reality of there being no neutrality in the marketplace.  The religion of the marketplace is Secular Humanism (proclaimed a religion by Humanists themselves*).  This is the pressure that is applied to so-called Christian Schools that receive government funds to be established and sustained.  Humanist tax-payers object to their tax dollars being used to promote a rival religion.  The government-funded Christian schools, if they are not fully controlled by government agendas at the moment, shall be completely controlled in the future.  He who pays the piper calls the tune.  The only way for Christian education to be conducted in a Christian way, under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, and in accordance with the Word of God, is for Christians to stop receiving government subsidies.  Initially this will be extremely painful.  It will mean shouldering the full responsibility for the education of their children.  Christians will also need to pay the full tithe to the Lord, and churches will need to shoulder their full social welfare responsibilities, which includes helping the righteous poor families fulfill their educational responsibilities.

It was Fundamentalist Evangelicalism that led the charge towards the secularization of Education in Australia.  According to Barcan (1980):

In September 1874 James Greenwood, a Baptist minister who was also a journalist on the Sydney Morning Herald, formed a Public School League whose objective was a ‘national, free, secular and compulsory’ system (Barcan, 1980, p. 139).

The Christian church in Australia is addicted to procuring government funds.  Think of the funds being given to the Salvation Army, Baptist Care, Catholic Care, Frontier Services, Anglicare, etc.  Government money for the Lord’s work.  Try preaching the gospel to the recipients of the welfare distributed through these organizations – challenge the recipients with the crown rights of Jesus Christ the Lord and King – and see what response comes from the funding source: “Shut up, or the funds will dry up.”  In the early days of these organisations, when the money came from the church’s tithes and offerings, listening to the gospel was often a condition for receiving the welfare distribution – in many cases it was failing to obey the gospel which got people into trouble in the first place.

Well done, those Christian families who have fully owned their responsibility to educate their own children, by bringing them home and giving them a home-based education.  Well done to those families who have paid the financial cost of educating from home.  I applaud your efforts.  And may the Triune God reward you abundantly for your faithfulness to Him.

* Dunphy, J. (1983). A Religion for a New Age. The Humanist, Jan-Feb.; Potter, C. F. (1930). Humanism a New Religion. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster.

References

Barcan, A. (1980). A History of Australian Education. Melbourne, VIC: Oxford University Press.

Dunphy, J. (1983). A Religion for a New Age. The Humanist, Jan-Feb

North, G. (1982). The Intellectual Schizophrenia of the New Christian Right, Symposium on The Failure of the American Baptist Culture.  U.S.A.: Geneva Divinity School, Christianity and Civilization Vol. 1.  Editors Jordan, J. B. and North, G.

Potter, C. F. (1930). Humanism a New Religion. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster.

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Education, Education and the Family, Education and the State, Funding, Home-Based Education, State Schools, Teaching

Globalisation, Schools and Home-based Education: the economic pressures

Sean Casham (2014), writing from an unashamedly socialist perspective, discussed the impact of globalisation on education, in his paper: Globalisation and Education.  He argued that globalisation has ensured that schooling is finance-driven rather than education-driven.  Measurable outcomes, such as high exam scores, become the educational objective of schooling to attract parents to enroll their children and to secure government funding.  These globally originated economic pressures, from such sources as The World Bank (Casham, 2014, p. 2), create insecurity of employment for school staff and ensure that there is a need for particular teachers to prove their ongoing right to be employed.  In this context, data collection becomes connected to professional competence, rather than actual teaching ability and learning outcomes in the lives of the children; value is given to things that can be measured and produced, rather than to the elements of a true education.  Casham writes: “By focusing on the knowable and instantly quantifiable, we may diminish the more abstract qualities of being human, such as kindness and wisdom” (p. 2).

Casham points out that Waters (2011) wrote: “In Australia, 25% of our young people (aged 15-19 years) have a mental disorder and 1 in 3 young people experience moderate to high levels of psychological distress” (Waters, 2011, p. 75).  This figure is an increase on the number of mentally disturbed young people reported in the earlier Sawyer, et al. (2000) Mental Health of Young People in Australia, report.  In the Sawyer report it was recorded that “Fourteen percent of children and adolescents in Australia have mental health problems” (p. xi).  However, it is interesting to note that Sawyer, et al. claimed that there was “a higher prevalence of child and adolescent mental health problems among those living in low-income, step/blended and sole-parent families” (Sawyer, et al., 2000, p. xi).  The Sawyer report claimed to be accurate because “the prevalence of mental health problems identified in (the) survey (was) very similar to the prevalence identified in previous Australian and overseas surveys” (p. xi).

Casham suggests that  these globalisation pressures may have a negative influence on young people.  Making educational processes finance-driven rather than education-driven may be limiting our human capabilities, and “limiting our human capabilities could paradoxically prove harmful to our mental health and the economy” (Casham, 2014, p. 2).  Maseman (2007) pointed out that the increasing trend in measuring school effectiveness “rests on productivity-oriented criteria, and analysis that is used on every level of education from early elementary school up to the tertiary level” (Maseman, 2007, p. 101).  This has led to “the increasing homogenization of the culture of education on a worldwide scale, with the accompanying assumption by educators that there is only one valid epistemology” (Maseman, 2007, p. 110).  Casham summarises this phenomenon by suggesting that “financial objectives can … be at the expense of a truly coherent focus on school improvement” (Casham, 2014, p. 6).

It is my argument that schools cannot be improved, whilst they are the recipients of Government funding.  It is the pressure of Government accountability measures that is apparently skewing pedagogical approaches.  Teachers who are anxious about their job security will not be primarily concerned about the educational outcomes of their charges, rather they will be driven by considerations that revolve around assessment imperatives.  Testing does not deliver an education.  Tests test whether the students have memorised the data that is deemed important to pass the test.  An education results in a lifestyle change.  Testing involves cramming as late as possible before the test date, then promptly forgetting as much as possible after the test.

Home-based education does have its financial pressures.  Home-based education families mostly choose to live a leaner lifestyle than they could if both parents were working and the children were sent to school.  However, when there is a resolve to live contentedly within the family’s single-income means, there are no pressures for financial accountability in relation to the education of the children.  Time can be dedicated to education, and if there is no state-mandated registration, then the testing regime can be done away with all together.  The proof of educational success is not in the results of tests; the proof is in the adjustments to lifestyle that the children make as a result of their educational development.

Casham’s essay is helpful in understanding some of the pressures upon schools and their teaching staff.  Those pressures may also be contributing to the poor mental health of many of the children attending the schools.  Add the pressures of globalisation to the factors of bullying, academic struggle and the corresponding shame that many children experience, and it is no wonder that a large number (between 14% and 25%) of children exhibit mental health problems.  However, Casham holds out hope for schools, and this is where I depart from his analysis.  The hope will be found in strengthening families, and then mandating families to deliver an education from the base of their own home sweet home.

References

Casham, S. (2014). Globalisation and Education. Unpublished Masters level assignment.

Maseman, V.L. (2007). Culture and Education. In: Arnove, R.F. and Torrens, C.A. (eds). Comparative Education: The Dialectic of the Global and the Local, 3rd Edition. pp. 101-116.

Sawyer, M.G., Arney, F.M., Baghurst, P.A., Clark, J.J., Graetz, B.W., Kosky, R.J., Nurcombe, B., Patton, G.C., Prior, M.R., Raphael, B., Rey, J., Waites, L.C. and Zubrick, S.R. (2000). Mental Health of Young People in Australia. Child and adolescent component of the National Survey of Mental Health and Well-being.  Canberra: Commonwealth Department of Health and Aged Care.

Waters, L. (2011) A review of school-based positive psychology interventions. The Australian Educational and Developmental Psychologist. 28(2), pp. 75-90. DOI 10.1375/aedp.28.2.75

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Education and the State, Home-Based Education

Home-Based Education is Critical for Liberty to Survive

Home-based Education has been around for a very long time.  The idea of state-controlled, mandatory schooling is a relatively modern remake of an ancient failed experiment.  In 1838, Isaac Taylor wrote of home education in a book with that title: Home Education.  Taylor linked home education with liberty.  He argued that home educated citizens are essential to maintain liberty in the community.  His argument runs along these lines:

“The substantial liberties of a community involve much more than either the bare protection of persons and chattels, or the ample exercise of political rights; for there is a liberty of thought and of speech which may be curtailed, or almost destroyed, in countries that are the loudest in boasting of their freedom.  There is a liberty, moral and intellectual–the true glory of a people, which consists in, and demands the unrestrained expansion of all faculties, the exercise of all talents, and the spontaneous expression of all diversities of taste, and of all forms of individuality.  But this high liberty of mind, forfeited often in the very struggle of nations to secure or to extend political liberty, must assuredly be favored by whatever cherishes distinctness of character; and it must as certainly be endangered by whatever breaks down individuality, and tends to impose uniformity upon the whole.

“In this view, a systematic HOME EDUCATION fairly claims no trivial importance, as a means of sending forth, among the school-bred majority, those with whose habits of mind there is mingled a firm and modest sentiment of self-respect–not cynical, but yet unconquerable, resting as it will upon the steady basis of personal wisdom and virtue.  It is men of this stamp who will be the true conservators of their country’s freedom.

“It may accord well enough with the designs of the promoters of despotism, whether democratic or monarchical, to recommend or enforce public education, both among the lower and the upper classes: nor indeed could any species of lawless power be secure so long as, from the bosom of many homes–homes sacred to truth and goodness, there were continually coming forth those whose minds have not been drilled to move in rank and file–who wear no livery of opinion, and whose undefined tastes are as decisively opposed, as are their formal principles, to arrogant usurpation of whatever name.

“If we suppose home education to be very rarely practised in a community, while public education should prevail; it must happen that all methods of teaching would tend continually toward uniformity, and would, every year, with fewer exceptions, be ruled–if not actually by law, at least by fashion, until at length, either by statutes, or by usages which none would dare to infringe, the particular course of study, and the modes of instruction, would become everywhere the same; so that youth, hearing the same things, in the same tone, on all sides, would be moulded into a temper of unthinking acquiescence.

“But instead of this, only let the practice of home education be mixed, in a fair proportion, throughout a country, with that of public education, and then any such dead uniformity must be broken up.  Busy law, or intolerant fashion, may rule absolutely in colleges and schools; but neither the one nor the other will so easily invade families.  Family training possesses a spring of diversity; it will be spontaneous in its modes of proceeding, various in its results, as well as in its measures; and will, on these accounts, impart a marked character to those who come under its influence” (Taylor, 1838, pp. 18-20).

Liberty demands diversity of thought to stimulate public discussion and debate.  There is nothing that suppresses diversity of thought more thoroughly than statist education.  He that pays the piper calls the tune, is the old proverb.  If the masters of public education are paid by the civil authorities, then the masters will teach whatever is required to keep the cash flowing from the public purse, and that is usually whatever the ruling elite desires to be taught to keep themselves in power.  Is this cynical?  Well, try and talk about an alternative to Global Cooling, I mean Global Warming, I mean Global Climate Change, in a public school classroom, and see what the response will be.  Try and talk about a Biblical definition of marriage in a state-funded classroom, and see what the response will be from the school’s administration.

Home-based Education is essential for the survival of western civilization.  We need a sizable number of alternate thinkers, divergent thinkers,  who have been educated and not just indoctrinated into kowtowing to political correctness.

References

Taylor, I. (1838). Home Education. New York: D. Appleton & Co.

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Certification, deschooling, Education, Funding, Ivan Illich, Schooling

Reflections on Illich 19: The radical heart of Ivan Illich’s proposal: a deschooled but educating society

Illich, I. (1970). Deschooling Society. Cuernavaca, Mexico: CIDOC.  Downloadable from: http://www.preservenet.com/theory/Illich/Deschooling/intro.html

p. 76  “A good educational system should have three purposes: it should provide all who want to learn with access to available resources at any time in their lives; empower all who want to share what they know to find those who want to learn it from them; and, finally, furnish all who want to present an issue to the public with the opportunity to make their challenge known.  Such a system would require the application of constitutional guarantees to education.  Learners should not be forced to submit to an obligatory curriculum, or to discrimination based on whether they possess a certificate or a diploma.  Nor should the public be forced to support, through a regressive taxation, a huge professional apparatus of educators and buildings which in fact restricts the public’s chances for learning to the services the profession is willing to put on the market.  It should use modern technology to make free speech, free assembly, and a free press truly universal and, therefore, fully educational.”

Of all the quotes from Ivan Illich’s book discussed thus far, this is the most important.  He is proposing a radically deregulated education system.  A schooled society will struggle with this proposal.  It is inconceivable that education can take place without centralized control, and lots and lots of public money being thrown at the bureaucracy.  In fact, as it is more and more evident that publicly-funded, centrally-controlled education does not work, there will be more and more calls for greater controls and vastly increased amounts of money to be chucked down the black hole of the failed secular, free and compulsory schooling experiment.

What Illich is proposing is that there be locally and privately owned educational portals, unfettered by government and other institutional interference through Constitutional guarantee.  These portals are to become educational markets, places of exchange where those who have expertise, and a passion to pass that expertise on to others, can meet up with those who have a passion to learn the knowledge and skills that are being offered.  These portals will assist with due diligence in checking the backgrounds of those presenting themselves as education providers, however, at the end of the day the exchange of knowledge, skills and experience will be a free-market contract, without compulsion and requirement for government approved certification or qualification.  Such markets will not necessarily provide enough remuneration for educators to survive without also having a real ‘job’.  It will require teachers to be grounded in reality, as they deal with the workplace as well as engage in educating others.  Very good teachers will be well patronized, but poor teachers will either have to improve their teaching skills, or go back to their day job.

As I said, a schooled society will find this a very difficult concept to think through.  However, until we take seriously Illich’s proposal, we will continue to subject children to the twelve year sentence*, and waste vast amounts of public funds, that could be spent elsewhere, on a failed educational concept.

* Rickenbacker, W. F. [Ed.]. (1974). The Twelve Year Sentence: Radical Views of Compulsory Schooling. New York, NY: Dell Publishing Co., Inc.

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Ivan Illich, Schooling, Schools

Reflections on Illich 18: The thing that schools are best at is training up workers for the schooling industry and other total institutions

Illich, I. (1970). Deschooling Society. Cuernavaca, Mexico: CIDOC.  Downloadable from: http://www.preservenet.com/theory/Illich/Deschooling/intro.html

p. 48  “School either keeps people for life or makes sure that they will fit into some institution.”

I have finally left school.  I am nearly 58 years of age.  The best years of my life were given to schools and schooling.  However, when I took small breaks from school, I found myself caught up in other total institutions, the most significant being four years serving in the Australian Army.  I am living evidence of Illich’s words.  Upon deep reflection, I have come to believe that schools are poisonous places, and many attendees of schools are wounded for life as a consequence of their schooling experience.  The only real survivors of schooling are those who are oriented to the schooling process, and therefore are easily groomed to perpetuate the institution at one of its many levels (child care, pre-school, primary/elementary school, high school, university, post-graduate school, trade school, Bible school, etc.).   But are these survivors really survivors at all.  There is something satisfying about sharing knowledge with others.  However, the total institution of school breeds workplace bullying, academic ladder-climbing, playground bullying, workload stress, and gives opportunity for despots to rise to the top of the bureaucratic pyramid.

All of this is just not necessary for an education.  It is necessary to keep an industry flooded with public money to fund: mortgage payments, extended paid leave, sabbaticals, superannuation, textbook writing, seminars, tenured university positions, research projects, education journals, etc.  However, an education does not cost any where near the cost of funding public-financed schooling.

A truly educated person is not institutionalized.  An educated person knows how to live life to its fullest, is productive, creative, and knows how to think outside the school-set boundaries–an entrepreneur, an inventor, a pioneer.  A schooled person thinks narrowly, and is trained to believe that there is only one answer–the answer required by the teacher on the test that is coming up.  A schooled person is politically correct. A schooled person is passive, and expects others to provide for them–the well-trained dole recipient, or compliant worker in the top-down corporation.

It is said that it takes at least one month of deschooling to counter each year that a person has been schooled.  I have been deschooling for 15 months as of this post.  I only have three years of deschooling to go, and hopefully then I can start becoming a useful person in my community.  What a waste of a life!

A deschooled society will save the community an enormous amount of wasted money, and provide a much better educated community, as well.

 

 

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deschooling, Funding, Ivan Illich, Schools

Reflections on Illich 06: The fuzzy state funding of schools vs self-funding of unschooling

Illich, I. (1970). Deschooling Society. Cuernavaca, Mexico: CIDOC.  Downloadable from: http://www.preservenet.com/theory/Illich/Deschooling/intro.html

p. 17  “… discrimination in favour of schools which dominates … discussion on refinancing education could discredit one of the most critically needed principles for educational reform: the return of initiative and accountability for learning to the learner or his most immediate tutor.”

I served as an Educational Leader in a school, and was instructed by my superior to round up records of attendance, because in Australia schools are paid government money according to attendance statistics.  The attendance figures generated on one day in the year, determined the level of funding that was received for the following year.  If the period from which the snapshot was taken reflected poorly for some reason, even if it wasn’t a true reflection of attendance at other times in the year, then funding was reduced.  So, I was required to round up, when checking attendance figures, so that the best possible attendance picture could be presented.

It happens in many schools, and particularly schools with transitory populations.

On the other hand, unschooling does not cost the public anything; it is self-funded education, and you don’t have to round up attendance figures to ensure that an education can take place.  When learning decisions are made at the level of student and immediate tutor, they can be made realistically, and without having to fudge the books.

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Certification, Ivan Illich

Reflections on Illich 05: What good do licenses and certificates really provide in the education market?

Illich, I. (1970). Deschooling Society. Cuernavaca, Mexico: CIDOC.  Downloadable from: http://www.preservenet.com/theory/Illich/Deschooling/intro.html

p. 16  “Skill teachers are made scarce by the belief in the value of licenses.  Certification constitutes a form of market manipulation and is plausible only to a schooled mind.”

This quote addresses a couple of issues. 

The first issue that it addresses is the issue of licensing the holders of marketable skills before teaching can take place.  Such licensing usually requires expensive, convoluted, and ever increasingly bureaucratic processes to procure the license.  This robs the education market of many people, who are highly skilled, from entering the market and passing their skills on to others.  The obtaining of a license does not necessarily mean that the holder of the license is the most qualified person to be engaged in the passing on of skills.  And, when you add government incentives to the mix, it almost guarantees that skills will not be passed on.

Let me provide an example.  To protect the identity of the parties, I will change some of the facts, but the story is a true story.  A very keen young man I knew desired to learn a trade.  At the time, the Federal and State governments were offering employers monetary incentives to train apprentices.  Employers took on more apprentices than they could properly supervise, and so the young man found that he was being paid apprentice wages (the lowest in the trade), to perform a labourer’s tasks (labourers being paid a significantly greater amount than apprentices).  The young man was not being taught the trade, but he did learn how to sweep floors, clean up after the tradesmen, and generally be used as a low-paid slave.  This happened throughout his apprenticeship, which was conducted under several employers.  The young man was made to work two years longer in his apprenticeship than formally required because the final employer said that he did not have enough trade knowledge and experience (despite working for three other employers prior to this), and needed more time (to sweep floors, clean up after the tradesmen, and generally work as a low-paid slave).  And this was despite the fact that the young man was awarded prizes for being the top student (year after year) in his trade school training. 

Now here is the question.  Were the licensed trade school instructors blinded by the fact that they were being paid according to the number of apprentices that they passed each year?  And therefore they awarded prizes to their top student falsely, because he was actually a retarded apprentice who needed an extra two years to be added to his apprenticeship to be skilled enough to graduate?  Or, were the employers so captivated by the free money that was given to them by the government, that they did not care to properly pass the trade skills on to the apprentice, just so long as they kept him busy enough so that they could collect the incentive money at the end of the apprenticeship?

Before government incentives, and before licensed trade schools, employers took on apprentices because they wanted to pass their skills on to someone else, and they did so as efficiently and meticulously as they could.  An apprentice who was trained under the older system graduated as a highly skilled tradesman.  The young man I spoke of is now a broken man.  He has a piece of paper that says he is a tradesman, but he has insufficient skills and experience to be able to practice his trade, despite have three awards for being the top apprentice each year in his trade school.  In his mind he has wasted five of the most important years of his life, and they were ruined by government intervention in the trade, and government-licensed teachers at the trade school.

The second point that is brought out in the quotation above is the issue of market manipulation by certification.  Only a schooled mind is blinded by the smoke-screen of required certification.  On p. 150 of my PhD dissertation I make reference to the fact that during the early stages of the so-called Global Financial Crisis, recent school and university graduates were either under-employed or unemployed.  Many young people were graduating with certificates that were useless in the process of obtaining a job, but they were also graduating with un-repayable education debts that could not be forgiven.  Entering school, it is not possible to know the employment market that will exist at graduation, and the certificates that students study for, may be for jobs that no longer exist when they graduate with their certificate of competence.

At the same time as this was happening to millions of students graduating from school with school certificates, unschooled teenagers, who had never obtained a certificate in their lives, had never darkened the door of a school, were pursuing their passion, privately accumulating marketable knowledge and skills and then making between $200,000 and “seven figure” annual profits from their internet-based businesses (during the Global Financial Crisis)–see pp. 149-150 of my PhD dissertation.

Certificates may be needed to get a job.  They may be needed to commence a career (which is New Speak for being locked into an institution, and working your way up the meaningless ladder of success).  However, certificates are not needed to become entrepreneurial, creative, passionate, and marketable.  What is needed for these things is an education, not a schooling.

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