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+2 votes
The essay below was a response to a paper written on a website promoting student centered education—as opposed to a curriculum centered eduction. I have participated in the conversation opposing curriculum centered education for some time. I never thought about posting it here until today. I thought some here might appreciate it and might add to it or give reasons to debate the point.

On another thread the meaning of morality was debated/discussed a bit. I realize that the word “moral” might pose a problem to some—not all—anarchists. Anyway, I did not want to get bogged down with the same discussion again about whether morality exists or its invention in history.  Below is a link to the essay I wrote.  Too long to post.
by (90 points)
which essay did you write on the link you provided?

i see a few essays and responses and don't know for sure which one you meant.
I tested the link and it seems to work half the time.  Sometimes it goes to the appropriate essay and sometimes it goes to the web-site's home.  it is a response to the "Smart Society, part one" by gordsd Oct. 20, 2015
got it. thanks.

i don't want to "organize a school system". i'd prefer to live without one, or the desire for one.

regarding the essay, i agree with the points about the nearly daily conditioning of authority most of us experience, especially when in compulsory school systems, and also about the lack of collaboration in most people's lives that i know. but the numerous references to "morality, moral, immorality", etc. make it difficult for me to resonate very deeply with the essay as a whole. i just don't think in those terms.

edited: grammar

BAA  'references to "morality, moral, immorality"'

i had a notion that would happen.  Just think of morality as doing the right thing for the most people; some care some don't--about concerning themselves with the welfare of others--in this case kids.

"i'd prefer to live without one, or the desire for one [school system]."

So, what do we do in the mean time while we got one?

i already think of morality as "doing the right thing for the most people"...and that way of thinking doesn't interest me.

however, that doesn't mean i "don't concern myself with the welfare of others". i don't see those two things ("doing the right thing for most people" and "concern with the welfare of others") as synonymous. far from it.

what would i do in the meantime? while in my school age years, i attended as little as possible, ran away from home once, and missed hundreds of classes. now, with the young people i know who attend school and who don't want to go, i empathize with them as much as i can, letting them know i understand their frustration and desire for freedom....i help them to get out of school as much as i can, and often run into difficulties with their parents for that help. it sucks much of the time....but i don't intend on reforming or creating any "systems".

edited to add:

i also collaborate with school age people as much as possible...i work at keeping my awareness so that i don't reflexively (due to years of the conditioning you spoke of) relate to them authoritatively. i usually enjoy the company of young children to most adults i know, especially when those authoritative notions have not yet taken hold as fully.

Hoping there wouldn't be a school system regardless of how it's run. The concept of grouping a bunch of people together specifically for education time isn't that appealing to me for an anarchist society. I don't see a reason for why there should be a school system in an anarchist society.

The desire for a more democratic process concerning running schools, that you or whoever references, is still conditioning the people to accept the authority of the outcome of said process. It can still be authoritarian in its own way, even if it's democratic.

Besides, for 99% of human existence, schools did not exist. :)

sas, you might want to check out this thread too for more discussion of the subject....

and here...

my answers to those questions explain a little more about my thoughts....although a year later i might express some things differently.

BAA and human.

Thank you for your replies I will read the links and get back.

ba@: "however, that doesn't mean i "don't concern myself with the welfare of others". i don't see those two things ("doing the right thing for most people" and "concern with the welfare of others") as synonymous. far from it."

right on.

it is not possible to know what is the "right thing" for "most people", and i find it patronizing when folks think they do. and almost everybody thinks they do. my concern for others is abundant, but that concern is not some universal, monolithic thing. it directly correlates to my relationship with the being i am concerned with. 

(edited for clarity

2 Answers

+4 votes

here is this anarchist's take:

there would be no school "system". learning would happen primarily through the experiences and activities of life itself. since people would be much more directly engaged in the activities that sustain and fulfill them them, the basics - things like growing and preparing food, making clothes and shelters/dwellings, working with water, constructing the things they need and want -  would be learned fairly young. 

as people (of all ages) discover the things that particularly interest them, they can focus on those areas, sometimes (often?) with others that share the same or similar interests. [edited to add] of course folks sharing a given interest will have different levels of expertise and experience in those areas; those with more advanced skills would naturally and organically impart some of their knowledge to those with less skills who are open to it. [end edit] if they want to do that in a more "formal" setting, cool, have at it. those involved and interested are the ones that would make it happen. there would be no institutions, and the idea of "going to school" would not make sense - living life would serve the function of "learning" far better than that outdated, authoritarian, capitalist concept.

the school system has as its primary goal - at least at the level where it fits very neatly into the network of institutions that dominate life - to churn out "productive citizens". this anarchist wants a world where neither of those words have any meaning. 

by (13.4k points)
edited by

"discover the things that particularly interest them, they can focus on those areas," FA

Very good.  I appreciate your answer along with the others who responded.  Focusing on what interests the student is the goal of student centered teaching also--since students learn far more when they study what interests them.

The point about doing away with the institution as we now have it, does make sense to me.  I'm not sure, at this point, if I agree.  I need to finish some of the reading suggested above.  Anyway, I got the point.  Thanks.

i am not familiar with student centered teaching, but if it actually does what it claims, that would no doubt be preferable to my educational experience (likely typical across the u.s., at least in my generation). it is just difficult for me to imagine something truly being "student centered" in almost any institutional setting. i graduated from a large, inner city high school in new york city in the 70s, having attended maybe half the time in my 4 years. one thing i did get out of the experience was the clear understanding that i had zero desire to pursue further "education". i had learned far more on the streets in those 4 years than i could even imagine learning in a classroom, and i never even considered college. (i also learned how to strategically lie to adults really well).

sas, i have to say you seem like one of the more open minded progressives i have come across in some time. i don't mean that to sound condescending, i am serious.

FA, "not familiar with student centered teaching, but if it actually does what it claims, that would no doubt be preferable to my educational experience"

The web-site is dedicated to it.  There are a "few" schools out there that are student centered as opposed to curriculum centered.  Just have to google it.  I actually took education classes from Dr. Lafer, the creator of that web-site mentioned above at UNR.  He is currently fighting the school system's way of doing things--state standards and the stupid testing which goes along with it--memorize and forget it.  He is not very well liked among the leaders of the school system!

"open minded progressives"

I did write that I am definitely a progressive, but I do not like labels.  There is a cliche' saying, "If you label me you negate me."  I think, to a degree, it is true.  It's not what people believe or say; it's what they do that matters.  That is how I try to evaluate people.  Too, I just try to listen to people and try to understand their point--learn from it--and go on.  


sas: "but I do not like labels"

agreed, i hate labels. despite that fact that i do use them as shorthand.

FA, "i do use them"

One of the drawbacks of using language; it is always an abstraction of the reality itself: symbols representing something else.  It is not easy to be a good communicator.

On the other hand, some language is so abstract that it does not represent anything real, but it is so authentic that it can bring a vision so spectacular that others that will actually help make it become real.  Just rambling about the ramblings of a few anarchists.

0 votes
This anarchist/egoist/post-modernist/food-eater/proletarian-warehouse-worker/guy-who-likes-kids-but-not-in-a-creepy-way/lifelong-student-of-the-universe would organize the school system as such:

1. I would not call it a school system, but an extensive daycare network.

2. It would consist of thousands of warehouses.

3. It would be student centered, but all adults would leave them alone unless they needed help. But i would ask the supervisors just to enjoy their lives and not worry about it too much.

4. I would pass out lots of candy and snacks.

5. There would be lots of video game consols, but no tv's, because they just make your brain rot! grrrr!

6. Passivity and submission would not be tolerated! All students would be able to defend themselves from violence (physical or mental!)

7. They would all get payed .00000000001% interest on their parents bank accounts.

8. Pedagogy would not be tolerated. We would have a zero tolerance program regarding to this!

9. There will be a robot called the answer, and it would answer all questions in a highly interactive manner. The children (not the adults) may destroy, hack, poop on, and dismember this robot to their liking because I don't think after the interest payments im going to be able to afford to repair this thing.

10. There would be a zero-tolerance policy regarding the ability to not-talk about your experience inside one of the warehouses. Nobodies going to enforce this policy but....come on!

11. Parents may sign up to be a part of the warehouse too, as children, but they must fallow adult guidelines even if they are under the age of 18.

12. Supervisors will be selected on the basis of having the most severe case of shizophrenia, and all applicants will be provided with an answer key that will allow them to fake being a schizophrenic on the FAFSA form 9278z-000000-xyz-communist-human-resource-reduction-plan.

And the rest is up to the kids!
edited by anonymous

RST 666, When you wrote "warehouses" I was reading it too fast and I thought you wrote whorehouses.  When I realized you meant warehouse and not whorehouse, it was kind've a let down.  I live in NV where there are the legal whores and the illegal whores.  The first thing I would do as a head-master in this school is introduce the kids who are old enough to the NV whores and ask them to write an essay on why they think a whore is any different or better or worse than anybody else selling their time and bodies to make a living: like driving a truck or working in a grocery store.

I did like the part about pooping on the robot; I could do that just about every morning about 5:30 am.