TOTW: Education revisited

  • Posted on: 3 December 2018
  • By: thecollective

This week we’re revisiting an old topic, and bringing up some new ones within it. Education is an indoctrination and also seen as a rite of passage in society, one that often leads down a path towards work, the military, or prison.

Have you considered what an ideal anarchist school would look like? Where would you want your kids to go? An anarchist free school, a Waldorf school, a Montessori school, public school, another alternative school, or something else altogether? What does this look like?

What has your experience been as an anarchist parent with children in modern day schooling and education? And if you’re younger, a teenager – what is your experience like in secondary school? Or the later college years? Or was it like?

Are you an anarchist teacher / professor? How is that going?

Do you have a hot take on the current institution of education in the USA (or elsewhere)? The student debt crisis (a warning to students of all ages), charter schools, life after school in the workplace, vocational training vs. the college general education, the school to prison pipeline at younger ages as current popular subjects within education, or another topic coming up in conversations.

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Comments

but don't worry any longer because I have gotten wiser and realise what debt is and the reasons for it...so fuck it. I had a young child going through the school system which I challenged on many occasions. For example, the morning assembly for very young children where the State via the school via the school morning assembly would have religious Christian hymns and that God was watching everything you did and HE knew your thoughts...so be GOOD OR ELSE!!!! I challenged the State education on this brain washing and scare mongering of minors. I was told 'It is Britain's Policy' with no explanation, no reasoning, none of my questions were answered, no one was willing to meet me. The Headmaster simply didn't get my objections: he looked puzzled: The Headmaster couldn't see the indoctrination!!! As for an education school: 'Summerhill' School comes to mind, especially the early Summerhill era. Personally, I hated school with its breeding ground for bullying. The homework was another disgusting aspect. I also spent years challenging Social Services. Kafkaesque bureaucracy best sums up my experience of this with so-called professionals either being frighteningly stupid or feigning it to be awkward.

A self-interested, parasitic bureaucracy was mostly the trojan horse of Western higher education. That, and the whole "research" industrial complex. The predominant consensus around compartmentalization of management through a class of executives who play little role in the whole process of learning has to do with it. Vampiric cadre having self-justified positions, taking cuts from corporate and government grants, complicating the admission and academic trajectory of every student within the school, and in the process making tuition fees always more expensive due to their golden jobs that serve no real educational purpose.

'It is Britain's Policy' to scare children is very honest of the headteacher, you have to give them that :)

Anarchic learning is not indoctrination but excessive neoteny and will which is obviously not structured to knowledge accumulation and acceleration. Civilization is what happens when the adults appropriate what the juveniles created and progenesize the process towards mediated apparatic hierarchies. Knowledge needs its willed personal driven adolescent flylord break-offs.

There can still be a place for adults and learning which for me would be occultic learning. It would be the inversion of kids running off and playing amongst themselves. When general learning is driven by adolescents and children anarchy reigns.

Back when I thought I might be a parent at some point in my life, this question was something that I spent a good amount of time thinking on.

I had a friend who taught at the Albany Free School in NY for several years. Their model was perhaps more leftist than I'd like, but it at least tried to center the individual child, allowing them to learn things (math, reading, etc) as it became interesting or relevant to their lives. They also treated the children as equal participants in the education experience, to the best that they could, which meant assemblies when there were conflicts, etc. Good for youth empowerment, but indoctrinating children in to endless meetings seems terrible. That said, if I had a kid, I'd rather they learned like this than what I've seen of public education.

Leila AbdelRahim talks about educating her daughter in her book Wild Children, Domesticated Dreams, and it is actually pretty similar, albeit from an anarcho-primitivist perspective. Learning being an experiential thing, and the particular "skills" coming as they became relevant.

I appreciate this method, but I also wonder about what that equips (or doesn't equip) children to deal with in the real day-to-day world. I wouldn't argue for public education as an alternative, necessarily, but as someone who spent part of their primary education in alternative programs that valued ideas like consensus and critical thinking, I also know that my re-exposure to the world outside of that bubble was somewhat... harsh.

I have my toddler in a Montessori school that takes ages 2-5. My partner and I both work, and needed somewhere for him to go during the day, and we felt this would be better than a daycare with some stranger. It's a very loosely structured day, with ample time to pursue individual interests. For the most part they are free to choose activities that interest them, whether that's playing the piano, painting, reading, pouring rice into different containers, doing a sewing block, puzzles, etc. They are given lessons in certain things, like letters and numerals, but there is no pressure to achieve anything in particular- it is more just to introduce them to new ideas and experiences. The children have a great deal of freedom to be kids, to play and explore and experience.

The photo. Pool in-disuse for whatever reason, proceeds to be neatly stacked with the leftovers of schooling, and as the years go on people just start throwing it in the pool instead of placing it nicely, until finally – someone comes along and makes it their art project with some footprints in pant around the place. At least, that is story I just made up by looking at the foto. The story of capitalism.

In reality, I’m pretty sure this foto is from none other than Rochester, New York – which is a city known for Kodak, Xerox, garbage plates, and many fancy universities. Kodak and Xerox are dead, garbage plates cure hangovers, and the only thing remaining is the universities (with abandoned pools filling up with tables and chairs). Then after graduation everyone moves away again, to head places with other jobs.

I’m excited to hear about efforts to help organize adjunct professors within anarchist conversations, even if / although the AFL-CIO has their hands all over it. Being an adjunct professor sucks, let’s make it suck a bit less.

The bureaucracy of everything is most amazing, it varies from place to place, but is ultimately defined by what State you live in (USA). I would love to see a resurgence of the skill share and the DIY, outside of formal learning environments. It’s happening places, how does that look?

I have been teaching for 6 years in New Orleans and have taught in public and Catholic schools. Both indoctrinate children in different ways, but surprisingly (with the exception of alienating victims of sexual violence and the censorship of the topics of gay rights and abortion), the Catholic schools are more open to letting teachers incorporate anti-racism into the curriculum. I have been fired twice for teaching about Fred Hampton and Black Lives Matter-related subject matter as a way of modernizing historical and fictional texts I teach as an English teacher. Being paid enough is difficult. Unions are toothless in the US. The public school system in Louisiana and the standardized testing system is a way to mine data for profit and plan prisons and factories in places where there is little intellectual power in the communities and therefore little political backlash. But with the advent of the internet, communities are organizing for positive change. I am always facing a world that is hopeless but I am always full of hope, and my hope resides in the one student every year that I inspire. Sneaking Lucy Parsons into an assignment on US History gives me hope.

@Dylan - I used to work in schools (not as an actual school employee), and this rings pretty true to me. At Catholic schools there is a certain dogma that informs the education that happens, but also teachers often have some freedom to teach things that public school employees are hamstrung about addressing. This is especially true at Jesuit schools, but seems to be somewhat universal. The administration can be a different story.

What were the differences you saw in the students between public and Catholic schools, if there were differences? I think it is one thing to be the adult who teaches the things, and that often that obscures what really matters, which is the experience of the people that have to be there soaking up the indoctrination (and it is all indoctrination, if we are being honest).

Wait... aren't those alternative schools usually so expensive that it takes bourgie parents to get their kids into these? So what's the real alternative for the rest of us?

Home-schooling, I guess?

But hey... all those questions and potential answers are just dodging the main issue, here, of why you keep having children, in a society where they are creating such huge socio-economic demands.

"why you keep having children, in a society"
Shit happens dude.

Use condoms harder. Get snipped. Don't take Sean Swain's advice on baby anarchist armies

Every baby is a chip off the old block ;)

that, plus also, spermicide lube smeared all over abstinence

100% effectiveness

as a bonus, heavily use RoundUp in your’s and all your neighbor’s lawn, it might make the whole neighborhood sterile, except not really, but it’s the thought that counts

punchline

Spermerbicide is a type of domestic Auschwitz, I prefer an overcrowded sustainable nursery of babies and dandelions.

i'm an anarchist "instructor" at a university (for now). after a few experiments in attempting to undo my authority, make the classroom a zone of free association (and temporarily nullifying university policies), encouraging students to follow any/all self-determining paths etc. i feel that the more these strategies succeed, the clearer it becomes that the entire institution is against it. school is no place for an anarchist (student, teacher, counselor, administrator ha!) if i push it further, i would likely get fired. and as far as i can tell, none of my students agree with anarchism on any level. so what's that even worth? if you're a teacher who thinks they can fight the good ideological fight, you're kind of doing the opposite, even if they repeat your ideals back to you. just test a few more liberating ways of conducting a class and hopefully you'll decide to place your talents elsewhere. fuck school! cheers.

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