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How do you think education would function in an anarchist society?

+2 votes
I've always loved learning stuff.  Just learning new things and figuring out problems fascinates me.  However, I really hate the way people are "educated" in the current system.  It seems to me that it's just brainwashing people to think the way the government wants you to think.  Not to mention, it's never taught me anything.  I've learned more through self-education than through schooling.  

So, obviously I see a problem with the way things work now.  But, how can we create a better, more anarchistic way of learning?  Would people just teach themselves certain skills or learn through experience?  How would basic skills like simple math or grammar come into this?  I don't see how people can effectively learn things like this.

Now, this isn't to say that the current system actually does a good job with this.  It doesn't.  But I feel like, if there were an anarchist revolution, we would have to work on making education better.  In other words, the current system is bad, but how could we do it better?
asked Oct 10, 2014 by anonymous
AF, another observation I've had about the majority of young people today is that they don't have a strong "work ethic" when compared to the youth of my day, despite (or maybe as a result of) all the additional structure and conditioning. I view this as a generally positive sign - there is some sort of rejection of the culture going on.
BAA, that may be the case, but it doesn't seem their demands, particularly for expensive shiny gadgets, have decreased.
True, the demands are there, but I think the economic realities in the relatively near future will be putting a serious cramp on those demands. It will be interesting to see how that plays out. That lack of desire for work can also translate to a general malaise, but I'm hopeful there is still some fight latent within many of the kids, and I encourage it wherever and whenever I'm able.
Let's hear it for malaziness!!! I just hope these kids' fight hasn't had the shit beat out of it by way of psyche-med anesthesia.
I hear ya!

One of my nephews, when he was about 7, was being forced by his parents (and backed by his teachers, school administrators, doctor, and psychologist) to take Respirdal, among other pharmaceuticals, for what they deemed ADD.

He came to spend one weekend with me and my wife and appeared almost catatonic. He told us that he sometimes flushed the meds down the toilet on the rare occasions when no one was watching him closely. So we asked him what he would like to do with all the meds his parents had packed for him for the weekend. He smiled and said he'd like to flush them all down the toilet...and so he ended up doing just that in our bathroom and we made a sort of ceremony out of it as they disappeared down the pipes.

By the end of the 3 days, he was laughing and playing Frisbee with us and eating foods he had never eaten, wanting to explore the trails and trees where we lived. It was a brief respite from the delusion, but it remains a source of hope for me, and possibly for him as well (I hope so).

Anyway, thanks for listening to my personal stories. I enjoy hearing yours too.

edited for grammar

1 Answer

+2 votes
I think it would function beautifully.

I also love to learn (doesn't everyone, given freedom?), but I don't like to use the word education because it feels synonymous with the schooling system. I prefer to just think of learning, which can happen any time, any place. And I prefer to think of education as being in the dust bin.

In regards to grammar and math, I see that happening simply by virtue of living. Kids learn to talk by being around others who are talking, discussing, storytelling, communicating, writing, etc. Working on building projects or growing food or keeping score in games, you automatically learn math skills.  One of my nieces often doesn’t go to school when my wife and I are staying with her, and she learns more on the days she doesn’t attend just by her natural curiosity and our willingness to lead where she wants to go. We often learn things as well as a result. One day out of the blue she said she wanted to learn some Japanese, and so we all spent some time looking up words and making sentences and laughing. So I think once the box is removed and the 45 minute bell isn’t sounded for the next subject, children have a desire to learn and create.

One thing I’ve been involved with is the concept of Gift Circles. Basically, you try to round up at least 5 people (and as many as 20 or so) who want to receive and give not only material items, but also to share skills either to provide help for someone or to teach them to someone who wants to learn. There is no money exchanged, but it’s also not barter. In the ones I’ve been involved with, we met once a week to once a month in order to put out into the circle what you’d like to receive or give. Then you simply give to someone in the circle or receive from someone, without accounting or recordkeeping, as a result of the gatherings (which usually include food). I learned how to play the piano this way. I helped someone build a root cellar who wasn’t physically able to do so but knew how to do it - so I was able to receive by learning, while giving my physical abilities at the same time. I can see this model being used for any number of things that people might like to learn – canning food, creative writing, computer repair, carpentry, physiology, sport, teeth cleaning, whatever.

I’ve also seen attempts (some more successful than others) to have skill sharing classes set up on a weekly or monthly basis, where people create classes based on what is desired to learn and the knowledge and experiences of those in the group. I know that the some of the FNB folks have started the Free Skool in New Mexico, and I’m going there next year to participate. You can find them easily online. You stay for a 1 or 2 week block of time, or probably longer if you’d like.

I like that you asked this question, as it’s something I think about a lot and I’m working toward more immersion in this type of activity. I can see how the ill-fated ideologies of the educational and monetary systems can both be circumvented by these concepts. Plus it’s really a lot of fun, and I’ve been able to form some intimate friendships along the way. I think a lot of people forget (or have lost awareness of) how much they know that they can share with others.  And a lot of us also tend to forget how much joy there is in learning when there aren’t all the absurd and constraining elements of education and punishment and money around.  My experience has been that it doesn’t take much effort to remember when there are a few willing souls who want to engage – you bring the joy of learning back to one another. It’s even easier with children, especially the young ones.

An added note about the word "education". As I understand it, the origin of the word is to "draw or lead out", which sounds pretty good to me. But as mentioned in the original question, education today is more synonymous with control and brainwashing - not that there isn't some learning to be had, but it's far from the primary objective.

edited: for grammar and clarity (a work in progress)
answered Oct 10, 2014 by bornagainanarchist (7,760 points)
edited Oct 10, 2014 by bornagainanarchist
So much good stuff in this answer!

I'll settle for an upvote and a virtual hug.
Well done, Bo@!
Thanks so much, cb. Upvote and virtual hug gladly received!
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