Education.

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WeTheYouth
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Joined: 16-10-03
Jun 21 2004 13:13
Education.

Should education serve society or the individual?

IMO i think the education system should serve the intrests and needs of the individual, so that they can achieve what they want to. I think by forcing people to learn a specific skill which will be lead to a job, is just processing humans into what the economy needs and not neccesarily the individual.

Ghost_of_the_re...
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Jun 22 2004 12:21

I think society would be served by an education system focused on the individual. Specialisation is of course necessary to ensure society doesn't have an entirely homogenous base of knowledge, but at present specialisation is promoted only as a means of getting the 'right' job. Where choices have to be made by students about what they wish to learn, they should be encouraged to do so entirely objectively-careers advisors are one of society's most distasteful groups in my opinion.

Also, i think your question only needs to be answered if you believe that society is 'improved' by higher production and lower unemployment and that no other factors are particularly relevant.

Thora
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Joined: 17-06-04
Jun 24 2004 09:14

Possibly getting off track here, but if anyone ever doubted our education system was actually about anything other than instilling conformity and obedience to authority:

http://www.webindia123.com/news/showdetails.asp?id=41326&cat=World

Quote:
Ashley Davis , a school boy, was debarred from taking his GCSE exam because the hue of his trousers did not exactly match up with the prescribed colour.

Sorry for the slightly weird source - don't ask me why I was browsing Web India...

Vaneigemappreci...
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Jul 16 2004 20:39

Any critique of education should take into account the critique developed by bowles and gintis, worth a read if you can find it

phoebe
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Joined: 20-09-03
Jul 16 2004 21:41

I think like other things in anarchism, it should serve both. Even though making that happen is difficult to organise.

Vaneigemappreci...
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Jul 19 2004 12:01

I think the very idea of teaching, telling people in a direct or roundabout way how to think, behave and what to know surely goes against the libertarian principles of anarchism. A teacher is a person of authority, someone who is hierachically positioned above their subjects, who constitute vessels to be filled with that individuals; or in our case of the curriculum, our states; ideals, values and knowledge. If we consider that the teacher perpetuates/reproduces the ideas of the dominant system then surely a teacher (even one who is libertarian/anarchist in theory) will reproduce the ideals of that system, curtailing or at least disuading free thought.

Surely teaching at all is reactionary or at least goes against anarchist values?

Mike Harman
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Joined: 7-02-06
Jul 28 2004 05:37

Any discussion of education has to take into account Summerhill, both the existent school (in Suffolk) and the book of the same name.

I'm not sure how it works now exactly, but all school rules were decided at a meeting of pupils and teachers, decided by majority vote in which students and teachers had equal weight, and reviewed at each meeting. Disputes were also decided at that meeting. Attendance at lessons entirely voluntary, etc. etc. It might not be entirely free (I think school rules have to comply with UK law for example, although Neill's book implies that even that was flexible), and it's an independent school - although if that's the only way it can exist, then dismissing it on that basis seems a bit silly- not sure how much it costs but at the time of Neill's writing, they were offering free places. Also, it's possible that the kids all vote for really authoritarian school rules (I think Neill also talks about this in the book, it's about 10 years since I actually read it). But my own view is that it's less what decisions are taken, than how they are made - and any rule that was disliked could be argued against and got rid of as easily as it came in.

The book can be picked up for a couple of quid at used book shops (or in fact for 1p used from Amazon, I just checked), and there's a website for the school - http://www.summerhillschool.co.uk/ - which has a short introduction and a pretty extensive faq, which I'm just starting to look at.

"Surely teaching at all is reactionary or at least goes against anarchist values?"

I think you're confusing education and the professional position of teacher. I've taught saxophone and computers in schools, and computers to psychiatric patients, and although there may be formalised hierarchy in those settings, there seems to be a conflation of ignorance and free-thought in your post. Assuming that people have any choice whether they're being taught something or not (something that doesn't take place in state schools of course, although instrumental music lessons are something of an exception, as are computer classes in forensic psychiatric wards although both of those situations are pretty complex), they have the option to disagree with the person teaching them and ignore them - any authority should be in the context of an authority of knowledge, not authority as institutional power.

If I want to learn about something, I'll either try to work it out myself, buy a book about it (in which case the author is effectively teacher), or find a teacher, or look it up on the 'net. In all cases I'm not sacrificing my ability to think freely, and in three out of four cases I'm making use of someone else's research/knowledge/experience in order to enhance my understanding of something, and therefore be able to deal with it more critically, independently etc. In other words, if I get someone to teach me how to fix a bike, am I more or less independent or free-thinking than if I take it to the bike shop every time I get a puncture 'cos I don't know the difference between an inner tube and a tyre.

Anyway, I really recommend checking out Summerhill, it isn't explicitly anarchist, but it goes further towards a liberatory education than anything else I've seen - especially in the UK where kids are required on threat of force (albeit against their parents) to go to school. Summerhill, again from the tiny bit of knowledge I have about it, manages to do a hell of a lot, and gets through ofsted inspections at the same time.

anomie
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Jul 28 2004 11:36

would be really interested to hear about similar educational experiments and how they've faired. And people's ideas for how they could be extended. for example, apparently in 60s Britain, the radical movement had loads of cool communal education projects which have petered out... did anyone grow up with any of these?

some things i've come across:

the united world colleges: www.uwc.org - k, i know it sounds a bit iluminati, but apparently, from speaking to someone who went to the one in wales, there's no formal pupil/teacher hierarchy, and rules are decided by the pupils in big meetings at the end of each year. It seems a major aim is to inculcate globally aware social values, which is cool. (though of course they are liberal left, rather than explicitly radical). apparently since this person left, they've started growing all their own food on their own organic farm as well. and they run the local lifeboat service (?!?). there's obviously a lot of establishment money behind it though, as all pupils attend on full scholarships (years 16>18, while they do the IB).

montessori: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Montessori_method (but hard to find consistent information about what the core of it is).

clearly doesn't solve all problems. it still maintains degrees of dogma and authoritarianism, but has much less than the current state school system. it does at least prove that educational institutions can work better in a more child centred kind of way, and not be so totally fucking boring and alienating.

bigdave
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Aug 10 2004 13:58
Quote:
I think the very idea of teaching, telling people in a direct or roundabout way how to think, behave and what to know surely goes against the libertarian principles of anarchism

The possible answer to this may be a form of education that teches people how to think for themselves?

Ghost_of_the_re...
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Aug 10 2004 14:28

Right, everyone get your thinking for youself textbooks out! Today we'll be working on chapter 7, not taking crap from teachers...who threw that?!