Teaching freedom: Thoughts on an anarchist education

  • Posted on: 13 August 2017
  • By: thecollective

From C4SS by Logan Marie Glitterbomb (7/31/2017)

Nearly everyone from across the political spectrum can agree that our current public education system in america is not ideal. Those on the statist left tend to fear that public education is under attack by private corporations and is completely underfunded. More progressive leftists go so far as to not only advocate for more funding for public grade school education but also higher education such as college, university, or graduate school. Those on the statist right however tend to believe in various corporatist versions of the school choice argument, most notably advocating the failed corporate charter school scheme usually partnered with a voucher system.

Social anarchists tend to parrot similar talking points as the progressive left in terms of education – tax-funded public schools and tax-funded college tuition but with a strong emphasis on using the union movement to eventually syndicalize the school system – although some advocate ideas such as anarchist free schools, Sudbury schools, skillshares, homeschooling, and unschooling as an alternative to state indoctrination. On the libertarian right, many advocate less statist forms of school choice such as fully private free-market education, including options of free schooling and unschooling.

So as anarchists, parents, educators, or even just a concerned citizens, what are our options in the here and now for educating ourselves and our children and how do we build a new education system within the shell of this old outdated state institution?

Public and Private: A Dual Pronged Approach

The choice between public education and private education is essentially the choice between whether you want your kids educated by the state or capitalism. Both are terrible options for different reasons but one may seem less problematic to you personally than the other. Some radicals believe that public schools are easier to hold accountable and to have influence over than private schools and so they advocate things like getting involved in the school board, participating in PTAs, volunteering at public schools, standing in solidarity with the teacher’s unions, voting for more public tax funding, and lobbying for better curriculum.

While it’s understandable to vote in favor of shifting our stolen tax dollars away from war and into better education, as long as we are forced to pay into this system, it’s difficult to argue in favor of raising taxes from an anarchist perspective, especially for the working class. That being said, what’s more important is what is being done with the funding the schools already receive. Often at the forefront of the battle against the mishandling of school funds are the teacher’s unions. Despite the claims of anti-union propaganda, many of the most recent teacher’s union campaigns were over the misspending of school funding. These are concerned teachers worried because such misspending means they lack the proper resources to adequately educate their students. In fact, many teachers end up paying for some of their class supplies out of their own pockets in order to teach their students properly. Supporting strong teacher’s unions means supporting fiscal responsibility and proper handling of educational funding.

Participating in the PTA, getting involved with the school board, and volunteering at your children’s schools does mean you have more of a chance of having your voice heard, but unless you obtain a position on the school board, rarely does the influence you have hold any significance in changing the overall system. School board positions have a much more powerful level of influence but holding such a position, while not being unuseful, poses the same risks of corruption as does holding any position of power, especially one privileged with state power. That being said, divorced from the current level of monopoly held by the public school system, being involved in the local school board would be little different than being involved with the decision making board of a private educational project. While it can be said that horizontal decision making between students, teachers, and parents is much more preferable, taking charge and having a voice in your child’s education within current hierarchical institutions is important as long as your child is a part of them.

Community lobbying groups such as the Alachua County Black History Task Force and Parents Against Common Core are able to focus and gain community and political support for important curriculum changes. PACC and similar groups fight to gain more localized control and decentralization in the public school system and the against rigid universalized standards of the Common Core program while the Black History Task Force and other organizations push to teach more than just the typical whitewashed statist propaganda. It is important to support the efforts of social justice groups in combatting state propaganda in public schools, regardless of whether we choose to send our own children there, because the educational system shapes the mindset of the future generations.

Fighting for better curricula, more localized control, and stronger unions is important but so are youth rights. Ending compulsory school attendance and allowing more student input into educational decision making can both go a long way towards empowering children to take charge of their own education. Everyone’s learning process looks different and that’s why rigid universal standards in education do not work. What we need is diversity. When people hear privatization, they automatically think of corporate-run schools overcharging for tuition and zapping up all of the funding from smaller schools, leaving the poor less educated and disadvantaged. While that may very well be a possible outcome under the rigged markets we currently operate under, privatization doesn’t mean that we have to hand over our children to be indoctrinated by capitalist propaganda.

Anarchists and radicals have long participated in the alternative schooling tradition. Anarchist free skools, Ferrer Schools, Sudbury schools, freedom schools, democratic schools, homeschooling, and unschooling have all sprung from the desire for a better education than the one currently offered by state capitalism. Homeschooling and unschooling collectives have been started by concerned parents wishing to start their own parent and student-led educational alternatives without having to fund the overhead costs of starting a brand new school. While these projects are few and far between, they offer some of the best possible alternatives to our current system of indoctrination. That is why we must fight to repeal laws which favor public schools at the expense of potential alternatives. Sure, this may also open the floodgate for some corporate interests to try and take advantage of a more decentralized educational system, but capitalism will always try to co-opt and profit off of any gains we make (just look at the “sharing” economy for a great example). But just because capitalism always finds a way to make money off of us, doesn’t mean that we should limit our opportunities to challenge the state-run educational system. The less monopolistic educational regulations exist, the more opportunities to continue the traditions of alternative anarchist educational projects without getting shut down by the state or their corporate partners-in-crime. But don’t be fooled by corporatist “school choice” schemes. Charter schools and similar corporatists exploits are merely a scam that operates on the same stolen money as the public school system with little to no accountability to the communities they plunder.

Since not everyone has access to adequate public school alternatives and most working class parents are too busy working to homeschool or unschool, we must still promote more democratic control over the public school system while also laying the groundwork actual school choice outside the public system. Combining these into a dual-pronged approach to educational reform means more decentralization, more direct control in our own education and the education of our children, and more individualized choices in learning methods and courses of study.

Higher Learning

Nowadays, college is seen as obvious for most people. In fact, the market is so flooded with college diplomas that they have been rendered essentially useless for all but a few career paths where formal study is absolutely recommended. While some are fighting for universal tax-funded college education for all, others are seeing the pointlessness of the system in regards to most career paths and are choosing more appropriate alternatives such as trade schools, apprenticeships, on-the-job training, or self-directed studies. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are also becoming a popular choice for personal education. Many accredited colleges offer free MOOCs on a variety of subjects and even offer certificates upon completion, usually only for a small fee.

Sites like Wikipedia and YouTube offer a plethora of materials to use for self-directed learning if you aren’t worried about a paper degree and are just focused on self-learning. Free universities, skillshares, and other localized efforts also provide tools to gain and share knowledge. Radical schools such as the Institute for Social Ecology or Robert LeFevre’s Freedom School provide benefits that can include sliding scale tuition, custom payment plans, scholarships, and even certain free educational materials for low-income students in an attempt to make things more accessible.

Some colleges offer certain free or discounted courses, lectures, and events that are available to non-students online or on campus. Some amazing professors will even let you sit in on their accredited courses for free as a non-student observer. Heroes like Aaron Swartz have attempted to make access to higher educational material open to all. Groups like Sci-Hub have since taken up that mantle and are paving the way for open source science and education.

Continuing the trend of decentralizing science, Counter Culture Labs located in the Omni Commons space in the Bay Area is a community science lab founded by radicals. Also in the Omni Commons space is a community hacker lab named Sudo Room where folks can gather to work and learn. In such spaces, curious minds are able to gather to experiment and learn on their own terms and at their own pace, doing everything from building robots to taking apart dumpstered electronics to see how they work. CRISPR kits and other biohacking kits allow people to learn and practice genetic modification in the comfort of their own living room and are only getting cheaper as time passes.

Together these methods help to place control of our higher education in our hands rather than in the hands of state and corporate institutions. As formal college continues to be pushed as a necessity despite the ever increasing worthlessness of most degrees, we, as anarchists, must lead the charge in reclaiming our educational pursuits for our own purposes rather than those of our current state capitalist system. We must push for alternative educational arrangements of various forms to meet the ever diverse needs of an ever diverse human population.

School of Life

The big thing to always remember is whether we’re in a classroom, the woods, or the streets, we are always learning new things. Formal classrooms are not the only way to learn and no two people have the same interests they wish to pursue knowledge in. Decentralization, voluntary association, and horizontal control are all things we should aim towards when we seek to reform our current flawed educational system. Together we can build a new educational system in the shell of the old.

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Comments

What's with all the shit C4SS articles appearing on anews lately?

Education has an institutional ring to it. I prefer guidance, instruction and mentoring within a de-schooled environment, under some trees, down the beach, in a field or a workshop or craft zone, with a curriculum which includes the broad skills of a physical material and psychological emotional depth which gets to and develops the crucial cognitive potentialities of the children away from any adult influences, by following a staggered latticed age progressing process, i.e. 0-3 with moms, 4-7 guided by 12 year olds, 8-12 guided by 16 yr olds, 13-16 yr olds guided by 21 tr olds 17-21 yr olds guided by over 21 yr olds. This is about the only structured arrangment besides the free food caffeteria and gymnasium. Old geriatrics would be primarily the sex-education advisors, thus adding a safeguard and humorous side to this aspect of education. THIS should be the priority in anarchist praxis rather than the current tired activist agenda of demonstration which feeds into the binary ideological warfare paradox.

Essentially structurally mirrors Bob Black's critique of work. What a lot of these libertarian educators talk about is everything except education itself. Education must be refused and ultimately disowned. The refusal of education is the realization of learning.

Anyway, I like how you conjoin ages in a way resonant with archaic learning and overall archaic human intercourse.

The conjoining ages prevents the disharmony between values which arise out of physiological effects in different ages. Also it prevents the formation of traditional constitutions from forming.

I find most idealist morons think that single parents can just hug their way to freedom. Ya, lets not have any money and teach our children to learn idealist crap that lands them in jail. Totally worked in the 60's and 70's!
Not only that, I can just dumpster dive with my child and not end up having them taken away. Must be nice having a trust fund to fall back on when times get tough.

Many of these "free skool" projects are not even active of functioning. That Alternative University crap in Montreal doesn't look like it was anything outside of some philosophical pipedream coming from a few idealist petty bourgies. Look at the reality of these projects, not what they'd like to be in some social context that'd be ideal for the realization of their nice "skool", like with government funding. Anarchists... yeah, hums...

so said heraclitus.

the problem with Western education is that it has put 'structured learning' into an unnatural primacy over 'situational learning'. this problem is otherwise stated as putting reason into an unnatural primacy over situational-experience based intuition [Nietzsche]. This is what the market-driven workforce wants, specialized subject oriented knowledge. situational learning is just for bosses. anarchy needs everyone to be able to be their own boss and thus to put situational learning into its natural precedence over structured learning.

Vygotsky lost out to Piaget on which requires precedence over which because Piaget didn't understand the two as a non-duality as Vygotsky did; i.e. scientific concept forming and spontaneous [situation-induced] concept forming are a nonduality.

structured learning comes already partitioned into separate topics which work fine in 'division of labour' based workplaces, but real life situations call for the inductive actualizing of a diverse multiplicity of creative potentials.

the elevating of structured learning into an unnatural precedence over situational learning is letting our spontaneous, intuitive situational engaging skills atrophy, constraining us to binary modes of thinking and responding; e.g. see 'Math is the World's Dominant Language'

As robotics and AI continue to displace humans in the workplace, first in manual labour situations and now in the 'white collar' workforce, we are becoming nursemaids that support these systems. they get to deal with the 'situations' while we are reduced to 'Maytag repairmen'.

Our mistake was in letting wage-based division of labour take over from 'mutual support without over-arching Direction' as our primary means of support. Now we have the exposure to market-driven divide and conquer mode which is reducing us to nursemaids to robots.

Not just the Western variant or even the non radical variant.

you use the word 'education' as general bullmoose would use it; i.e. it means whatever it means to you.

what we are doing here, sharing our views, can be understood as 'the acquisition of knowledge' which is a definition of education; e.g. 'i am educating myself on 'anarchism' by participating in the Anews forum. i am educating myself on sex by getting naked with my girlfriends and exploring with them what tickles our fancies.

as wikipedia allows, education is acquisition of knowledge, skills, values, beliefs, habits and is something that is going to happen one way or another as humans grow up. parents have a role here, unless they want their children to acquire their knowledge and habits par hasard, 'on the street'. even in primitive societies, elders share their life-experience based learning with the young ones through story-telling.

what is your 'model' of 'education'; i.e. the acquisition of knowledge etc. evidently you reject certain ways of acquiring knowledge since you enigmatically say;

Education must be refused and ultimately disowned. The refusal of education is the realization of learning.

if you are raised in culture x you will acquire different knowledge, skills, values, beliefs, and habits than if you were raised in culture y. the architecture of your first language and the 'semantic realities' you fashion with it will shape your construction of an 'operative reality'.

education, the acquisition of knowledge, skills, values, beliefs, and habits "will happen". how would you like to see it happen?

The primordial indigenous human skills are not educated into humans for instance. I would remind you that the etymologies go back to leading and rearing. The practice of this is systematically asymmetrical. If the etymology of a word points to something not conducive to anarchic existence then it is an issue. As LeWay points out the parents and guardians role is more of guidance then rearing in a structured fashion. I would hardly call primitive learning educational.

Wikipedia allows for autodidactical learning not education which has always been a pedagogic power locality divorced from personalization as Stirner correctly argues in 'The False Principle of Our Education'. I don't see an intercourse of personally driven autodidacts as having anything to do with education. There is no mediating impersonal pedagogy.

Emile, do tell...what tickles your fancy??? Easy tiger!

that language is the carrier of "impersonal mediating pedagogy".

you say;

"education ... has always been a pedagogic power locality divorced from personalization as Stirner correctly argues in 'The False Principle of Our Education'. I don't see an intercourse of personally driven autodidacts as having anything to do with education. There is no mediating impersonal pedagogy."

language is a tool that facilitates learning and insofar as autodidacts are using language that someone else has developed, they are loading their messages and knowledge archives with a lot of mediating impersonal pedagogy, so much so that different language groups have very different understandings of THEIR OWN PERSONAL EXPERIENCE [Sapir Whorf] due to 'teachings of others' that are already incorporated in the structure of language.

that's also nietzsche's core point about language. did stirner not make the same point? [i have no idea]

"ich will" translates into 'i want' where 'want' as in the spelling 'wont' [as pronounced wahnt] implies need. in italian 'voglio' for 'i want' drops out the 'I' or 'ich' or 'io' in the more formal 'io voglio', so 'want' shows signs of becoming more of a creative nothingness [a negative causality] that inductively actualizes what appears to be purposeful action; 'i want that and i am going to get that' [a creative nothingness is pulling me into action].

nietzsche's point is that 'purpose' ['will', 'intention'] is a grammatical substitute for inductive actualizing by epigenetic influence aka 'wont' (wahnt), so that the direction of influence appears inverted from epigenetic [physically real] to genetic [grammatical abstraction].

this is, in effect, a mediated pedagogic intrusion that is built into language.

eg, if several people FEEL THE NEED to engage in mutual support without being 'told to do so' [as in 'anarchy'], one need not assume that mutual support is a purposeful act jumpstarted by rational analysis [sense, interpret, decide, act] of the participating animals, but rather that such protective action is inductively actualized by a need that develops relationally as when a family member is under attack.

i.e. 'anarchy' is something animals do intuitively while humans with noun-and-verb language-and-grammar capture it semantically in terms of analytical backfill [sense, interpret, decide, act]; ..."We saw our brother being attacked by bullies (sense) and fearing that he would be hurt (interpret), it became clear that we had to defend him (decide) and we ran over to help him out (act)."

'anarchy' in animals, is inductively actualized by a need that develops relationally. it is not something that is initiated by so-called 'anarchists' because of their different 'anarchist' values and beliefs which they bring to bear via rational; 'sense-interpret-decide-act' analysis.

language is a trojan horse for mediated impersonal pedagogy. that's nietzsche's point.

“Reason” in language — oh, what an old deceptive witch she is! I am afraid we are not rid of God because we still have faith in grammar.” – Nietzsche, ‘Twilight of the Idols’

my point is that "personally driven autodidacts" are being 'educated' by others by being force-fed from birth with noun-and-verb language.

Which I agree with, though in the case of education your are talking about an padded problem of mediation. It similar analogy would be pain and suffering that is human mediated on top of the wear and tear of the physical world which includes suffering.

Language does obviously have inherent mediation problems but education is one of those civilized beyond the pail additions that need not be. The less mediated forms of guidance will suffice for me just as the pain of the physical world as such. It's the extra bit of human mediation via curriculated institutional pedagogic learning that I will not accept.

An autodidact is essentially a historical product of education but they go beyond it. The unique one is similar in that they come from society but they shed that skin via a person will based drive. Whether we like it or not we have been marked by education, but education can overcome and left behind like the domesticated disease that it is.

and it strikes me that you are moving in on the same thing as nietzsche with his point that Socrates and Plato put reason into an unnatural precedence over natural experience-based intuition, but it seems to me that 'language' which comes loaded with mistaken assumptions that go into our semantic reality constructions which shape our 'operative reality', are going to confound the autodidact if he does not deal with them.

In other words, not only do we have to reject 'education' (as you define it; i.e. as an impersonal culture-mediated process), but we must reject the 'plain statements' of 'being-and-logic' based noun-and-verb language, e.g. in the manner of a Robert Anton Wilson. the autodidact who does not deal with this will have a fucked-up operative reality.

for example, Donald Trump is a sort of autodidact and this sets him apart from the orthodox thoughts of the culture. he is more RATIONALLY correct than the majority of people e.g. in regard to his Ayn Randian views on white supremacism. i hasten to add that 'rationality' IS THE PROBLEM. but the causal model of science makes 'fountainheads' out of 'figureheads' because of its noun-and-verb language architecture. see Confusing Figureheads for Fountainheads in Anews Sept. 29, 2016.

People and nations are 'not really' the fountainheads of 'their own productive power'. Language encourages us to say 'the farmer produces wheat', but when the local climate turns the land into a dustbowl, the emperor's new clothes are exposed and it turns out that the farmer was not really the producer of wheat, but was riding the crest of natural waves of vegetative growth and claiming 'he was doing it'; i.e. he was a figurehead and NOT the fountainhead. But Western operative reality promotes figureheads to fountainheads throught noun-and-verb grammar structure.

It is common to say that 'the US is the most powerful country in the world'. Here we go again. It is not that the US has bigger balls than the rest, it is that the US has bigger bombs. When it was rifles and cannons versus bows and arrows and spears, we attributed power to those with the rifles and cannons and enslaved the others. But the US is not the fountainhead of such power, it is coming from deficiency everywhere else. As soon as the others correct their weapons deficiencies, they 'get respect'.

As the nuclear arms race showed, the power of a nation could be diminished by someone else coming up with weapons that could exterminate you faster than you could exterminate them. The power of the US is coming from deficiencies elsewhere. An analogy in health is the deficiency of vitamin C which makes streptococcus pneumoniae (not a problem while there is ample vitamin C) show up as a powerful pathogen.

Ayn Rand's choice of title 'The Fountainhead' is made clear in Howard Roark's (Gary Cooper's) "Famous Courtroom Speech" .

Here, in this five minute clip from the 1949 film is the profile of an independent autodidact who sees himself as a fountainhead of authenticity and creativity, a Stirnerian profile? (I am sure you will correct me on that one, but am interested in how you will) that many people support and which Donald Trump implicitly models himself after.

The only problem with this Ayn Randian profile (and it is a massive one) lies in its confusing of 'figurehead' for 'fountainhead', which comes from noun-and-verb language-and-grammar.

Down to the etymology.

I don't disagree on the language baggage point. Many self learned which include the high IQ type tend to repeat civilized mistakes by promoting a high degree of solutionism. If you want my idea of what a good autodidactic mind is who properly intercourses with the world it would be someone like Robert M Pirsig, an IQ genius who had a figurative allergic reaction to the education process an wrote a pretty good book in the process.

Roark is something of a bizarro retarded take on what Stirner is going for. There is no intercourse to be had with his type of market privation minded objectivist worldview. Also regarding Trump I would say that he is very much educated, he just came out stupid with daddy's money to avoid a crash landing in life.

Overall I don't see how anything Randian figures into a post educational mode of learning. Autodidacticism can be just one mode of learning in the world.

Since we're on the subject, you're something of a posterchild for the pitfalls of auto-didacticism ziggy. I'm mostly self-taught too, by the way!

I'd say that I'm fairly harmonious to physical reality and how it works.

Ha! Well pin a rose on you, cupcake! HEY EVERYONE, this guy's "fairly harmonious to physical reality"!

please do something to limit these long diatribes from Emile, Le Way and SirEinzige. These three are taking the piss!

How was all that diatribe? Do you even know the definition of the word?

Srsly boys... go back to the sauna for all the lame dick-waving you're doing here, so you'll forget this site easily. You're making the comment sections so. Fucking. Boring.

that nobody much was commenting on this topic outside of us 3(it's on page 2 now with not much comments) who take a personal interest in questions of learning and education. We also have the most anarchic position that can be had.

I find activist strugglosers boring.

They are also the spook without which you wouldn't be able to look at yourself in a mirror with pride in the morning.

You need the activist strugglosers and the Leftards too. Where would you be without them... 4chan? Godlikeproductions!?

zing! hmm or maybe out gardening.
Srsly tho, why don't the Workers of the World just Unite, already
and be done with their privileged internet-egoism ?!!!@?

click on "Education, Pirsig, and Subject-Object splitting and non-splitting"

i am interested in seeing if we can come to some common terms on this topic of non-culturally mediated understanding. i realize there is a lot in common already.

also, i am coming around to seeing more clarity in using the word 'anarchy' and avoiding 'anarchist' and 'anarchism', ... as you seem to do and am wondering if it's for the same reason. that is, in order to be consistent with the modern physics view that 'relations are all there are', i feel i have to suspend using the term 'anarchist' [in any dependent way] because it gives the suggestion that 'anarchy' is something that is created by anarchists, when that is an inverted view of what is physically going on.

i will complete this comment at the forum topic location.

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