Schooling

What are the characteristics of schooling that make schools schools?

In my research, one of my respondents made the comment:

“On the other hand [in contrast to good education], schooling means: classrooms, no learning and knowledge; when things are learned it has nothing to do with information, it is not interesting and not cool.”

From her perspective there were certain characteristics of schooling that make schools schools.  She held those characteristics up as being anti-educational.

The first of the characteristics is that schooling is done in a classroom.  The great Athenian educator, Socrates, avoided classrooms.  He chose to conduct his lessons in the midst of life being lived.  Cole, in her book, A History of Education: Socrates to Montessori, wrote that:

“… Socrates taught, but not in a school. It was in the marketplace, in the gymnasiums, and in the streets that Socrates carried on his life work of teaching young and old Athenians to know themselves, to know what was good, and to know what conditions influenced the development of virtue. He did not withdraw from life in order to study it under carefully controlled laboratory conditions but rather went joyfully out to meet it where it was whirling along at its busiest” (Cole, 1966, p. 10).

This is of course where Jesus did most of his teaching as well.

When my respondent said that in schools there was no knowledge and that when things were learned they had nothing to do with information, I interpreted that to mean that there was a disconnect between the information being communicated through the classroom lessons, and her everyday experience of life.  How much of school work is relevant to how many of the students?  Sure, a very small minority of the students will go on to higher education, and will spend the rest of their lives contemplating the esoteric and the ethereal, disconnected from the challenges and frustrations of living in a fallen world that requires practical wisdom to survive.  And much of school and schooling prepares those few for such a life.  But what about the rest?  Are they being equipped with entrepreneurial skills so that they are not dependent upon finding a job? Don’t have to depend upon government support?  Can they be productive and get paid for their initiative and industry?  Are they being taught how to be useful through mastery of practical, hands-on skills?  Are they interacting with a range of people, outside their peer group, and being challenged to develop communication skills in a range of circumstances, through a range of registers?

During the beginnings of the Global Financial Crisis nearly 53% of new university graduates in the United States of America were either unemployed or underemployed, and they had upayable study debts of between US$30,000 and US$300,000 at the end of their schooling experience; no employable skills, and no entrepreneurial skills (Weissmann, 2012).  At the very same time, young unschooled teenagers were earning between US$200,00 and US$1.5M annually from internet-based businesses [completely without schooling, but because of relevent unschooling, very entrepreneurial and productive – during a world-wide depression] (Investopedia, 2012).

I would suggest that in the majority of schools, the answer to all the questions above is, “No!”  Children are corralled into age-segregated classrooms, they are given mountains of busy work, required to memorize information for tests, but not shown how the information applies to developing healthy relationships, how to solve complex ethical challenges, or how to be productive and useful in life.

When my respondent said that school and school work was “not interesting and not cool”, she was indicating that the information being communicated is standardized.  Each of the attendees in a school classroom is uniquely created by God.  Their learning styles, passions, interests, and call of God upon their lives are unique.  But how can one teacher cater to the uniqueness of all the students in the classroom.  It is not possible.  I tried for 26 years, and was a complete and utter failure.  And it was not because I am a poor teacher.  I am a good teacher, and I have many one-on-one successes to demonstrate that I am a good teacher.  However, the classroom with one teacher taking care of nearly 30 children (and many more in non-western classrooms) is not an environment that can facilitate individuality.  Montesorri classrooms come close, but not as close as the unschooling environment.

Of course, there are many more characteristics of schooling that can be discussed.  However, these were the characteristics that came to mind from the response of one of my respondents.

Cole, L. (1966). A History of Education: Socrates to Montessori. New York, NY: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.

Investopedia. (2012). 10 Successful Young Entrepreneurs.   Retrieved 31/05/2014 12:30 AM, 2014, from http://www.investopedia.com/slide-show/young-entrepreneurs/?article=1

Weissmann, J. (2012). 53% of Recent College Grads are Jobless or Underemployed — How?   , from http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/04/53-of-recent-college-grads-are-jobless-or-underemployed-how/256237/

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Funding

Government involvement in education in Australia

In my dissertation I argue strongly that education is part of the God-defined jurisdiction of the family, the church and the marketplace, but the state has no God-given or God-defined mandate to be involved in education (except maybe military academies, because defense is part of the state’s jurisdiction).

In Australia, because the early colonists were mostly state-dependent prisoners, there were insufficient tithe-paying members of the church to generate the funds for the church to get on with the business that God had called her to be engaged in (which included the business of training fathers to teach their children).  Public funds were distributed to the church from the beginning (particularly for education), so that there has arisen a mindset of dependence upon the state in the church — Anglicare, Baptistcare, Salvation Army, Frontier Services, etc., all receive government funding to enable their organizations to go about the business that God has called the church to be involved in.  Try preaching the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ as part of these state-funded services, and you will see how little these church organizations really are ministries of the church.  They are state functionaries in practice, church ministries in name only.

When Christians have no concern about government involvement in welfare, infact, when many Christians are on the cutting edge of advocacy for increased government involvement in the church’s affairs, there is no pang of conscience about government involvement in education.  How many Christian schools receive government funding?  It has come to the point that Christians in every state and territory, in Australia, (except for South Australia), are not permitted to set up their own education facilities without them being registered by a government agency.  The costs of setting up static, purpose-built schools is beyond the financial reach of most Christian parents, so state-funding is called upon to subsidize.  He who pays the piper calls the tune.

The Safe Schools* initiative being rolled out in Victoria, and being planned to be rolled out to all schools across Australia that receive government funding, is a demonstration of how much political correctness is attached to accountability for the use of public funds in education.

The Homeschool Regulations in New South Wales are an illustration of how boldly intrusive governments in Australia have become, demanding that home-based education look like schools, in the home**.  This is one reason why we need to help home-based educators make a shift from using the term home school, when they are unschooling.  Home schools can be registered.  An unschooling life style (i.e. living as if schools do not exist) is outside the state definition.

We have a long way to go in helping the church in Australia to take on the mind of Christ in the realm of education.  But we must begin the journey, and we must commence the task of trialling different things until we get something that works.  If we always do what we have always done, we will always get what we have always got.

* https://www.change.org/en-AU/petitions/unease-over-safe-schools-coalition-let-boys-be-boys-and-girls-be-girls

** http://www.boardofstudies.nsw.edu.au/parents/pdf_doc/home-edu-info-pack-13.pdf

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Socialization

Is it true that kids can only be socialized in a school environment?

Now, this is a question that can be very frustrating, because the answer is both yes and no.  It all depends upon what is meant by the word ‘socialize’.

One of my research respondents said, “The definition of socialization is essential in understanding this question.”  And they were dead right.  How we define the process of socialization will determine where and how the socialization process needs to take place.

Socialists of many stripes, including so-called Christian socialists, dominate the schooling system at all levels.  A former Education Minister in the Federal Government (who became a Prime Minister) is a self-proclaimed Fabian Socialist*, and has advanced the socialist cause in schools from her elevated positions of civil authority (think Australian Curriculum).  Teachers’ Unions are socialist fronts and text books are written from a socialist perspective.  Karl Marx, the father of modern socialist thinking, in Part II of his Communist Manifesto advocated, amongst other things, “Free education for all children in public schools.”

Socialization, therefore, is the process whereby children are indoctrinated into the mindset of socialism.  Socialism is a condition of helpless dependence upon the state.  The more dependent people are upon the state, the stronger the socialist hold will be upon a society.  The ultimate end of socialism is the total control, by the state, over every minute aspect of the lives of the members of the state (think the book, 1984**).

Given this definition and context for socialization, the answer of course is, school is the most efficient institution to facilitate the socialization of a large number of children.

However, socialization can be defined in a different way, and it is usually the way that unsuspecting parents have been taught to think about the word when confronted by teachers and others advocating that their children need to go to school to be properly socialized.  One of my respondents defined the term in this way: “Socialization is about learning to communicate to many people in many contexts, with the parent being the role-model of how to communicate.”

Another of my respondents said, “We learned (to socialize) by getting along with our family.”  Another said, “We interacted with people of a range of ages, not just children of our own age.”  Another said, “As home educated children, we have mixed with a large number of people, including Christian people.”

These comments indicate that the second understanding of the word socialize requires a much more diverse interaction between children and others than is provided by schools.  Schools lock children away in age-segregated classrooms and gets them to play in age-segregated playgrounds, thus limiting their socialization opportunities — a very good environment for brainwashing and indoctrination into a socialist mindset.  On the other hand, home-based educators, especially those who unschool, (and not home school), provide opportunities for their children to mix with a very broad range of people, but in a safe context.

From this perspective, then, children can only truly be socialized when they are unschooled, under the care and protection of loving parents and siblings.

* http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_Fabian_Society#Notable_members

** http://www.penguin.com/static/pdf/teachersguides/1984.pdf

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Aboriginal Education, Accelerated Christian Education (ACE), Denominational Christian Schools, deschooling, Discipleship, Education, Education and Culture-making, Education and the Church, Education and the Family, Education and the Marketplace, Education and the State, Education Delivery Programs, Funding, Hebrew Pedagogies, Home Schools, Home-Based Education, Indigenous Education, Indigenous Pedagogies, Ivan Illich, Life Learning, Natural Learning, Schooling, Schools, Socialization, State Schools, Teaching, Tertiary Education, Themelic Christian Schools, Unschooling

God doesn’t want you to send your children to school: He wants them to have an education

After climbing to the top of the academic tree of education by earning a Diploma of Teaching (Primary), Bachelor of Education, Master of Education (School Leadership), Doctor of Philosophy (Christian Education) and a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment [mostly self-funded], and working for about 30 years at all levels of school from Preschool to adult education, I have come to realise that the deficiencies in educational outcomes for children in the western world are because of schools and schooling. Schools and schooling have always been the problem.

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My new book is now available from Amazon.

Education and Schooling are not synonymous. A proper education does not require children to be sentenced to twelve years locked away in a total institution as if they were criminals, mentally insane, enlisted in the military or part of a religious cult.

The state has no mandate, at all, to be involved in education. Education is the proper sphere of the family, with support from the church, and assistance from free-market tutors and other community custodians of skills and knowledge.

True education should be delivered through unschooling, with a discipleship emphasis. Ivan Illich explored the idea in the 1970s, and the Triune God of the Bible emphatically agrees.  You can get this book from Amazon.

Some time ago, now, I walked away from working in a school as a school administrator. I am on the road to deschooling, but am conscious that there is much more of the road that needs to be traveled.

The focus of my research is around Biblical Christian deschooling/unschooling.  Over time I will be triangulating the things that I have found in the literature, with interviews conducted with families that are actually unschooling, and comparing the results with the development of my own thoughts over 30 years, as recorded in my personal journals.

I look forward to the day when home-based education is the norm, not just a curious anomaly.  Those who would like to read my book, you can get a copy from Amazon.

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The dissertation for my post-graduate doctoral degree is located here: Dissertation found at this location .

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