Unschooling The School System. 103

Unschooling The School System. 103

“A child does not have to be motivated to learn; in fact, learning cannot be stopped. A child will focus on the world around him and long to understand it. He will want to know why things are the way they are. He won’t have to be told to be curious; he will just be curious. He has no desire to be ignorant; rather he wants to know everything. “ – Valerie Fitzenreiter, in The Unprocessed Child: Living Without School

When I started working as a teacher, I made a decision that would come to shape my work and my life in ways I could not have imagined.

I decided that I would become the best teacher that I could possibly

In striving to become the best teacher I can possibly be, my focus is to provide children with the best possible education, to be a sparring partner who respects them and listens to them and who values their insights and unique expressions. I am constantly reevaluating my teaching principles and methods and I keep developing myself as a teacher through the direct feedback from the children. I strive to see life from their perspective and to be a champion on their behalf, however I am also acutely aware of the humbleness required from me as an adult to take a step back and see the potential for greatness in my students and let them develop their own voices and become champions of their own sovereignty.

Why I unschool in the school system

Throughout my work I have found it particularly challenging to motivate children, especially as they get older, to do homework and assignments. They would generally do it the night before deadline and in some cases, the parents would sit down and do it for them, just to have something to show – as though the entire purpose of their education was to get a ‘pass’ from the teacher or to make the teacher happy and not to actually learn and develop themselves.

So I have been looking for ways to engage students, to make the work authentic for them as something they would actually want to do and find purpose in. Through this process I have found that a distinct problem with formal schooling is that it is set up as a simulation process where children are taught ‘about life’ from abstract textbooks that doesn’t have anything to do with real life. The entire purpose of formal schooling is to weigh, measure and categorize students, to apparently prepare them for ‘real life’ – completely disregarding the fact that they’ve been a part of real life since the day they were born. Children  learn something about the world and about life every minute of every day, especially in those formative years where they integrate knowledge at a quantum level.

I have therefore been working towards making the subjects and projects that we do in our classes relevant to their real lives and to give the students assignments that does not just have the purpose of measuring them or proving themselves to me, but that would actually matter to them.

As I started to develop more of such projects I saw a distinct difference, especially with the younger students interest in learning, however with the older students and especially the teenagers, I was at my wits end. Nothing I did seem to spark an interest in them. They seemed distant and demotivated and saw me as yet another adult who wanted to put them into a simulated learning environment that had nothing to do with them or their real life. I struggled to get any form of authentic connection established with them.

Then about six months ago I discovered unschooling as an educational principle and strategy and since implementing unschooling principles into my work, it has completely transformed not only the way I teach, but also my relationship with the students.

I have taken an educational quantum leap that has opened doors and potential I had no idea existed.

Since I started working actively with unschooling I have come to realize that I have been ’intuitively unschooling’ all this time, and that I have basically been a proponent for unschooling my entire life – I simply wasn’t aware that there was a word for it.

So from a certain perspective it has not been that big of a leap to go from what I was already working with to now actively start unschooling. What has however supported me a lot has been to realize that what I naturally saw as common sense and that I struggled against because I thought I had to teach in a more formal way, had already been working for a lot of people for many years. So it has supported me to trust myself more and to throw myself more into progressive forms of education rather than deliberately holding myself back because I wasn’t sure if what I was doing was okay or not.

Results of introducing unschooling in the school system

When I started introducing unschooling into my classes, I was initially quite worried about how parents and other teachers would react and I can only say that the responses and feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. I get emails and phone calls from parents saying that there children come home elated with big smiles on their faces and that they can’t wait to go to our classes.

The older sister of one of my 5th grade students recently told me that he never does homework and that he hates writing. She was utterly surprised to hear that not only did he do the assignments for our class, but he kept writing so much that I had to tell him to cut it back because it otherwise wouldn’t fit to the project we were doing. He even send me edited and corrected versions of his assignment several times – without me instructing him to – before it was submitted for final publication.

After I have started to change who I am as a teacher to be (even more) relaxed, more myself and less fearful of not getting results, entirely new dimensions have opened up in my relationships with the kids. They are more considerate and gentler. I suddenly get more hugs and invites to come home for dinner or hear them play piano. They have started to tell me about their life and the things they struggle with or are passionate about.

How I unschool in the school system

The first thing I did, as I actively let go of the fear of what parents and other teachers would think was to stop trying to control the lesson. If the children want to go, I let them go. If they want to do something else than what I’ve prepared, we do that. I don’t force them to do anything anymore. I might encourage them to push themselves, especially if I see that they are resistant or reluctant because of lack of confidence.

I listen to the students, I’m interested in what they have to say, and I am engaged with them, meaning: I am not preoccupied with getting results or accomplishing things. Instead I am here with them and let the moment naturally unfold, (while having somewhat of a plan of what we’re doing/where we’re going). But I am letting go of the ‘need’ to control the situation – which I’ve realized mostly came from fear.

Because I’m letting go of that fear and that need to control and make sure they get results, I can also be more present and listen more to their individual needs. So if someone doesn’t want to do something, I don’t make them. (Which I used to do reluctantly out of fear).

Instead I talk to them about it and make sure that they really don’t want to do it and find out why. Then we do something else, no big deal. If I see that they resist because its something they find difficult, I encourage them to push through – and they do.

An example of that is from a preschool I recently visited. A little girl aged 3 wanted me to draw her a drawing. She started whimpering and talking to me in a manipulative baby voice. Her body language changed and she started becoming emotional. I actually found the situation quite funny and looked within myself at how I could best direct it, what would be best for her and for me in the moment.

So then I calmly said to her: “Okay, but then you got to talk in your normal voice”. What she did next was very sweet and moving. She tried changing her voice back to her normal voice. She struggled at first because I’m not sure anyone has ever asked her to do this before. So she wasn’t used to directing herself to move out of the ‘cry baby personality’. But she definitely understood exactly what I meant. As she tried a couple of times and reverted back and tried again, I could see how her body language changed and she started straightening herself up. She knew exactly what she was doing. She tried a couple of times more and finally got it, back to her normal voice – and I drew the drawing, not because she manipulated me to by being emotional, but because she had asked in self-respect and I wanted to honor that.

I focus more on getting to know the students individual needs and do things that they want to do/that suit them and where they are at in their process of learning. This doesn’t change the effectiveness of my teaching, because they still learn what they need to learn, but it happens naturally without any force. Instead it comes more and more from their own interest to grow and learn. And fascinatingly enough, the work they have produced since we started working with unschooling principles have been lengthier and so much more substantial. Several students have told me that they have been working all night on some of the projects that we do and the most amazing drawings and writings have come out of that process, so much so that it has even surprised me to discover the abundance of potential within the students that I had no idea existed.

Contrary to what critics of unschooling may believe, I also don’t let the children do what ever they want at any cost. If they are too noisy and it is potentially disturbing for another class I ask them to tone it down. If I have a headache or if I am exhausted I explain it to them and ask that we do a more quiet activity. Because the relationships are becoming more equal, because they see that I respect their choices and their needs, they respect mine equally.

The basic principle of unschooling is therefore not to just let children do whatever they want at the expense of everyone else. It is about empowering children to be equals in a partnership where I stand as a point of support and guidance based on a principle of doing what is best for all.

The relationships are becoming more real and more equal which means that I am also allowing myself to learn from the kids and how they see the world. If more teachers would do this, we could compare notes and perhaps together we could steer towards a paradigm change when it comes to how we see and educate children.

Working as a teacher with progressive principles I’ve come to realize how important it is that there’s a real life purpose with what the students work with. Most of what is being taught in school is either abstract or simulated to resemble real life. The students know that and they know that what they do only matters as to measure their performance. Every person wants to contribute to society, wants to do something that matters. When children are encouraged to work with something that has an impact on real life, they give it their all.

“The reality is that the modern school is no silver bullet, but an extremely problematic institution which has proven highly resistant to fundamental reform. No system that discards millions of normal, healthy kids as failures – many of them extremely smart, by the way – will ever provide a lasting or universal solution to anything.” – Carol Black, filmmaker and educational activist

The potential is there that we, within the next fifty years will see a total transformation of the process of education and of educational environments – and that as a result, the world will be forever changed because of it. To manifest this potential, from vision to reality, we have to as adults push ourselves to go further than we’ve ever gone before, further than those who came before us, so that we can provide the future generations with a clean slate to learn and grow and explore from – a platform of learning that is unlimited and empowering in every way.

For more information I invite you to watch this recent interview I gave on the Living Income Guaranteed channel:

Links and more info on unschooling

Hacking The School System from Within. 102

Hacking The School System from Within. 102

“We don’t yet know, above all, what the world might be like if children were to grow up without being subjected to humiliation, if parents would respect them and take them seriously as people.” ~ Alice Miller

The past few months I have been working with introducing unschooling principles into my work as a teacher. As mentioned in a previous post, unschooling is an educational principle where all traditional schooling activities such as sitting in a class, doing homework and working with textbooks is taken out of a child’s educational process. Traditional schooling is replaced with self-directed and life learning principles where the child is trusted to pursue his or her interests and passion at their own pace. Instead of being educated by parents and teachers, the child relies on adults as sparring partners that stand as pillars of support.

So with unschooling being an educational principle where all traditional schooling is discontinued, how am I unschooling in the school system?

I know; it is paradoxical to talk about unschooling in the school system, especially when a basic premise of unschooling is to disengage with the school system all together. Some may say that it is misnomer to even use the term ‘unschooling’ for what I am doing since I am doing it within the confines of the school system and although I agree to a certain extent, I simply have not yet come up with a better term for what I do, and so I use the term unschooling because the basic principles of unschooling are what I am implementing into my teaching on a daily basis.

So now you may ask why am I implementing unschooling principles into the school system instead of disengaging with it all together like other unschooling advocates, especially considering what we know about the origin and design of the school system and the effects it has on children.

That is what I will discuss in this post.

The answer to the question is twofold: Firstly, I live in a country (Sweden) where it is entirely prohibited to homeschool (and thus unschool), where parents are fined and where children have taken into custody if they dare to oppose the legislation and educate their child at home. Therefore I have had no choice but to look for alternatives to unschooling outside the school system.

Secondly and more importantly; as a sociologist, children’s rights advocate and educational activist, I am interested in unschooling as a solution to the neglect and degradation imposed on children by the formal school system and my goal is to contribute to a paradigm change in the way we think about education and the way we as adults interact with children in general, with the aim of ultimately changing the education system in its entirety.

Recently, someone made a comment on a post I posted on Facebook saying that they had given up on the formal school system and had turned completely to the alternative education communities.

While I completely understand why someone would want to disengage with the formal school system and while I wholeheartedly would want for all children to be unschooled in a supportive environment, I also see the pertinent need for transformative voices within the walls of the confines of the school system.

As human beings, whether we like it or not, we live together on one planet within a world system that many of us would prefer not to have, but that we are also, through being part of the human race that created the system, directly and indirectly responsible for.

There is no ‘getting off the boat’ or the ‘sinking ship’ if you will in terms of simply calling ‘quits’ on the system and opt out of being a part of the system. Of course you can do it for a while. You may even do it for a lifetime, moving into an alternative community or building a cabin in the woods, but it doesn’t solve the problem. Maybe for you and your family it does, but because everyone else is still trapped in the same system and because of the consequences that system has on our ecosystems and interconnectedness on earth, in one way or another, it will affect you and yours. And even if it does not, I would say that we each have a responsibility for the home we all share, especially if we have opened our eyes to the atrocities and actually see solutions to the problems we are facing globally as well as locally.

This is not to say that parents who choose to homeschool or unschool their children are doing the wrong thing – in fact I commend those who are able to do so and I would certainly have wanted parents who respected my sovereignty to such an extent as a child. However, we also need activists, leaders, politicians and advocates who work towards changing the system from within.

Why it is important to hack the system from within

We all know that demanding change is futile; the system is not suddenly going to ‘come to its senses’ as it is a man made entity that has gained such a stronghold on our collective bodies and minds, that it holds the entire world population in an indefinite gridlock. Instigating violent revolutions is equally redundant because even when they are successful, the system recreates itself and eventually reverts back to its dysfunctional ways.

Money and organization is one of the primary factors why making change in the system can be so difficult and this is also one of the reasons why so many turn their back at the system in an attempt to disengage with it to be part of the solution rather than making matters worse. Adding the gross amount of cognitive disinformation flooding the public sphere with a toxic haze of sedation, it easily seems like an impossible to penetrate the iron wall of lunacy that this world system has become.

It is therefore imperative that we as citizens and grassroots activists start inserting ourselves into the ‘belly of the beast’ and start changing the system from within to literally hack it from the inside and this is exactly what I am doing through introducing unschooling into the school system.

In the next post I will go more into detail about how I unschool the school system in my daily work as a teacher and I will discuss how this is something all teachers and parents can do and actually make a profound difference in the education system.

It doesn’t cost any money. It doesn’t require an army of lawyers and academics and publicists. All it requires is one person who is willing to change themselves to make a difference in this world.

For more information I invite you to watch this recent interview I gave on the Living Income Guaranteed channel:

 

Radical Unschooling: Education Outside The Box. 101

Radical Unschooling: Education Outside The Box. 101

“Rules in the absence of principle are often found to be irrelevant by children. Principles lived fully make rules unnecessary.” —Karen Tucker

We are facing a time in history where breaking with the conventions of yesteryear is not only inevitable but in fact a necessity. Radical unschooling represents such a break with conventional thoughts, as it challenges everything we thought we knew about education and parenting.

Out with the old. In with the New.

The realization that we exist in an Orwellian system of control is slowly but surely making its way from the fringes of society to its mainstream arenas. The walls of segregation are thinning and the veil of wool that we have pulled over our eyes is slowly but surely starting to unravel.

We realized long ago that the revolution would not be televised. The time of paramilitary overthrows of totalitarian regimes is over. The grand idea of a global revolution has become archaic in a world where the powers of a system that should not be, has wormed itself into every fiber of our existence and has engulfed the world in a paralyzing toxic haze.

One by one, we are starting to realize, each in our own way, that to subvert the subjugating mechanisms of this system, we must to become creative, and as the Icelandic activist and member of the Pirate Party Birgitta Jónsdottir puts it: find ways to hack the system from within.

All over the world, people are finding ways to subvert the system of control, from guerilla gardening to co-op farming and alternative media outlets. This is done, not through vehemently fighting against the system and demanding that it change, but through understanding that, as corporate whistleblower Richard Grove puts it: “The system wasn’t broken, it was built this way.”

We must assist the system to collapse – and we do that through immersing ourselves into the system, through changing it from within.

Hacking the System from Within

The iron claw of the system reaches into even our most private and intimate spaces, but instead of looking upon that with apathy and trepidation, we can use this as an opportunity to start hacking the system virtually anywhere, in any place, in any area of our lives – and we can do that as individuals without necessarily having the support of large communities, vast financial resources or intricate knowledge about how to take down the overlords of the military-industrial complex.

Each one of us has skills and abilities or unique insights into sustainable solutions that can be used to defuse the firewalls of the system, from independent journalists that tirelessly work towards exposing the cognitive disinformation oozing from the mainstream media to high-school kids inventing affordable 3-D printers in their bedroom.

We can hack the system in our personal lives through recognizing the inner mechanisms installed through predictive programming, where our minds too are subject to the system of control, for example through the alluring promise of happiness and fulfillment offered to us by the advertisement industry. Once we understand the mechanisms and see them for what they are, once we admit to ourselves that we too fell for the magic trick, we can begin the process of restoring (or for the first time creating), our sanity.

We can hack the system in our relationships with other people, through agreeing upon principled ways of living, where we see that which is best for everyone, (including children and animals) as being of equal importance, thereby disrupting the patriarchal, authoritarian and speciesist narratives that for so long have governed and restricted our lives and our ability to co-exist peacefully with one another on this planet.

Education and upbringing is a hallmark example of the extent to which the system of control has saturated our lives, bodies and minds. We do not realize is how extensively our way of seeing the world and more importantly; how we see ourselves in it, is a direct result of our upbringing and education. As Ivan Illich, the author of “Deschooling Society” puts it: “School is the advertising agency which makes you believe that you need the society as it is.”

One of the most prominent examples of how it is possible to hack – and thereby take directive action to reprogram, the system in our day-to-day lives is through radical unschooling.

Radical Unschooling Paves the Way for a New Humanity

Unschooling is an educational philosophy, but even more than that, it is a form of direct political activism that aims at empowering the future generations through a total paradigm change – and it is all happening inside the home.

Educator John Holt coined the term ‘unschooling’ in the 1970’s. Holt believed that children did not need to punished or threatened into learning, that each child had a natural capacity and ability to learn. Unlike traditional homeschooling that aims at bringing the traditional school classroom and curriculum into the home, unschooling takes the approach of ‘learning through living’ where the child has no textbooks, no tests and no curriculum to follow, but instead can follow its own interests and passions, with the guidance and support of a parent.

Common – and for most provocative – examples of how different unschooling is from traditional schooling includes: no fixed bedtimes for children, no restrictions on food and no restrictions on media consumption. Unschooled children wake up and go to bed on their own accord. They have no chores, no homework, no textbooks to read and they learn in the way that is most comfortable and interesting to them. As such an unschooled child might spend weeks or months on end playing Minecraft or building with Legos, all supported and facilitated by their parents. Unschooled children are also not expected to learn how to read, write or learn math according to any specific time-frame or method and are often self-taught at that.

Radical unschooling takes unschooling a step further as it rejects any notion between educational and non-educational spaces. As protagonist Sandra Dodd says: “everything leads to everything.”[i] Radical unschooling is further more an approach to parenting and education where equality and respect become practical and tangible principles that can be transferred into the participants daily lives. The parent is no longer an authoritarian figure who’s role it is to modify behavior through punishment, but a partner and a facilitator who makes it possible for the child to explore and develop their unique natural learning abilities. Education is no longer about the child preparing itself to be functional in a dysfunctional society but about exploring life in a natural and expansive way. Radical unschooling thereby becomes not only a way to transform the notion of what a family is or how education happens but can even be utilized as a tool for self-transformation of who we are as parents and human beings in our relationships with one another.

By showing that a child that learns from home (and life in general) in its own pace without any restrictions, is just as equipped to step into society, perhaps even more so, than a traditionally schooled child, radical unschooling parents are challenging the very foundation of our education systems. It can however only work if the parent dares to step out of their preconditioned ideas about life and as such become a catalyst for change.

Radical unschooling provocatively questions the very foundation of our education systems and playfully shows us how it is possible to not only succeed by stepping out of the schooling industry, but also how tremendously limited we have become because of it. As John Holt says: “Trust Children. Nothing could be more simple, or more difficult. Difficult because to trust children we must first learn to trust ourselves, and most of us were taught as children that we could not be trusted.”

Deschooling Detox

A specific element of radical unschooling thus has to do with a detoxification period that parents as well as child who have been in the school system, have to go through called ‘deschooling’. One of the key aspects of deschooling is that especially the parents have to go through a process of deconstructing and letting go of preconditioned fears and beliefs programmed into them through their own school years. This could for example be the parent thinking that “a child needs boundaries and routines” or that “punishment teaches the child that there are consequences in life.” (Author Charles Eisenstein has long been a protagonist for the process of deschooling and regularly hosts seminars on the subject. [ii] In his seminars he encourages participants to investigate the effects that schooling has had on them.)

Another aspect of the deschooling process is a period of ‘binging’ on things and activities that previously would have been seen as ‘sinful’ such as gorging on candy, computer-games, movies or staying up very late. According to many unschoolers this is a natural part of the process that will slowly but surely even itself out, where the child and adult will become more inclined to making decisions that are best for them as they get in contact with their authentic selves beyond the limitations of rules and restrictions.

Dangers of unschooling

Unschooling is often criticized as leaving children unprepared for stepping into society. Those critical of the philosophy fear that unschooled children are left unsupervised and unsocialized and that they will have trouble integrating in society, as they grow older. According to a survey[iii] done by professor Peter Grey Ph.D at Boston university for Psychology Today, unschooled children do not only go onto higher education such as college, but tends to do remarkably better than their traditionally schooled peers.

Unschoolers have claimed that one of the reasons why unschooled children do well in college and university is because they have been self-motivated to learn their entire life. Often they have discovered a passion for a specific area already in their early teens, so when they start college they are self-driven and purposefully directing their education. Prominent unschooled people who have gone on to being successful in the system includes filmmaker Astra Taylor, astronomer Lisa Harvey-Smith and professor of law at Duke university, Jedediah Purdy.

So perhaps the greatest danger of unschooling is how it questions everything we thought we knew about education and shows us that the traditional school system is not only failing at its basic task of educating the young, but that it was never meant to in the first place.

The greatest anarchistic experiment of our time?

Radical unschooling might very well be one of the greatest anarchistic and open source experiments of our time. As Sandra Dodd says: “I never knew how much damage school did, until I saw someone who hadn’t been”. It begs the pertinent question of what the world would look like if all children were supported to harness and explore their unique natural learning abilities? Radical unschooling might very well be a significant key to the transformation of the world system, exactly as it will be significant to transform the way we live with the earth, the way we conduct business, how we work together or the way we view and speak about gender. No stone can be left unturned when it comes to subverting the subjugating mechanisms that has become our accepted ways of co-existing.

Each area of our lives that we dare to look upon with brutal self-honesty and see for what it truly is, through the veil of conformity, and thus take responsibility for changing, will be a significant and imperative key to rewrite the codes that govern our lives. It will not happen overnight and it will not be a global revolution where the whole world will joyously join together in some grand awakening. Instead it will happen one individual at a time, on a one-on-one level, from within the very depths of the system, in the miniscule seemingly insignificant everyday moments of our lives.

Radical unschooling shows us how each of us can take the process of changing the world into our own hands by starting with ourselves. Radical unschooling is an example of the transformation that our societies (and minds) has to go through, for us to upcycle the toxic waste of the past and turn it into something of substantial and lasting value – not just for us, but for generations to come.

Sources

[i] http://sandradodd.com/unschool/radical

[ii] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Avd1EgAHnD8

[iii] https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/freedom-learn/201406/survey-grown-unschoolers-ii-going-college

http://www.outsideonline.com/outdoor-adventure/nature/Unschooling-The-Case-for-Setting-Your-Kids-Into-the-Wild.html

http://opensource.com/education/12/3/unschooling-open-source-way

http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2014/09/how-do-unschoolers-turn-out/

http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2013/10/harnessing-childrens-natural-ways-of-learning/

 

 

Are You Supporting Your Child To Reach Their Full Potential? 99

Are You Supporting Your Child To Reach Their Full Potential? 99

supporting your child to reach their full potentialThe other day while getting my hair cut, I struck a conversation with the hairdresser who has two children of her on. We talked about how difficult it is for parents to know whether they’ve sent their child to a good school or not. I could see a subtle look of concern in her eyes glancing back at me from the mirror when I shared with her how different the schools are and how the child might be taught something in one school in grade 1 that in another school is only being taught in grade 6 or maybe not ever.

She said what most parents say when asked about the quality of their child’s school: “Well, it seems good.”

Like most parents she has little to no idea what her children is being taught in school, because school-life and home-life has been inexorably separated and severed from one another. Teachers and parents barely have time to meet or to talk and when they do, it is only to make sure that everything is going according to schedule when it comes to the development of the child’s cognitive and social abilities.

Let me tell you a little bit about my work:

I go to over 20 different schools every week. In some preschools, the teachers hug the children each morning when their parents drop them of. They make sure to have a personal and individual conversation with each and every child and this is not a show they put on for the parents, because they do it whether the parents are there or not. It makes it a safe place to come to school, even for someone as young as 3 or 4. These preschools (and schools in general) are often private, small in size and/or run by a cooperative of parents. The state- and municipality-run schools are usually bigger in size and have a constant influx of teachers.

Unfortunately most parents don’t get to chose which schools to send their children to and even if they do it’s difficult to know whether the school is good or not. Often you only find out when it’s too late.

I teach students individually or in groups of three. Through teaching this way I have discovered that each child has its own entirely unique and individual learning requirements. No child is in the exact same place in its development process; some benefit from more structured and calm environments. Others learn best when they can take initiatives and push themselves. Some are good at math but bad at reading. Each one has their entirely own unique needs for an educational environment that will support them to grow and develop their potential.

The way the school system is build doesn’t even come close to supporting each child’s unique requirement for learning, not even by a long shot. When 30 students are stuffed into a small room with 1 teacher and are expected to rush through a standardized curriculum, at best we call it a ‘one size fits all’ system – at worst it is a system that prohibits each individual child from reaching his or her full potential.

The fact of the matter is that children can learn, all children have the potential to expand and grow and even defeat the odds that comes with poverty or learning disabilities.

So on one hand the education system is random. It’s like a lottery where, if you’re lucky enough your child might just end up in a school where there are teachers who teach because it is their passion and where there are resources. On the other hand, the education system is also tragically predictable in most cases, where it is almost guaranteed that your child will not be able to reach its full potential.

As parents it is our responsibility to be the main caretakers and guardians for our children in those first vulnerable years – but when it comes to education most of us have completely handed over the reigns to the education system, turning a blind eye to the fact that it is in no way equipped at providing our children with the education they require to truly reach their full potential, academically as well a personally.

It is time that we as parents start daring to see what is actually going on in the world of education today – and that because no one cares about our children as much as we do, it is our responsibility to make sure they get the education that will foster and nurture their full potential to develop.

Whether that means getting involved with the school board or setting up impromptu lessons around the dinner table or investing in sound educational materials for our children, we have to stop relying on the hope that the problems we see in schools today will sort themselves out.

If you don’t have the skills or resources to teach your children, if you don’t know what’s actually going on in school, if helping your child with their homework is daunting or something you resist doing – then start there. Start by taking one step, just one step towards ensuring that your child won’t just become another number in the statistics used by corporations and governments to serve some obscure and delusional agenda leading our world into even more dire straits than what they’re already in. The change starts with you, because without you, your child won’t stand a chance, and your child is the future of tomorrow.

If you start today, you will give your child a head start to face tomorrow and it will be a gift that will last a lifetime, with the potential to change, not only your child’s life, but also the world as we know it.

If you are ready to get involved in a political and economic change of paradigms and thereby also a change of our education systems, I invite you to investigate the Equal Life Foundation’s proposal of a Guaranteed Living Income System. This proposal suggests a groundbreaking change in political paradigms that doesn’t ‘take sides’ but instead presents a completely new approach to solving the problems we are currently facing in this world.

 

Domesticating the Natural Child. 98

Domesticating the Natural Child. 98

domesticated childWhen children are demonized, they are often described as feral. But feral is what children should be: it means released from captivity or domestication.” – George Monbiot.

From the moment a child is born, it is expected to assimilate to the culture and society surrounding it, to make its norms and traditions its own. It is a war with the goal to break down the child until it surrenders its natural instincts and accepts its domestication.

This process is unnatural and not without bloodshed. Screaming, conflicts and violence ensues when the child tries to fight tooth and nail to express itself in a way that comes natural to it and not succumb to the unnatural assimilation process. It almost never works. And when it does, the child is labeled with one of the increasingly pervasive diagnoses that we hide behind to not have to take responsibility for our creation; the invention of a society and a culture that breaks down life before it had even had a chance to grow. We call it ADD, ADHD, hyperactive disorder, child depression or simply: ‘bad seeds’. The child innocently asks: “But why?” The parents response? “Because that’s just the way it is. Get with the program.”

Let me give you an example: We expect children to sit down, sit still and stay put and only be active in their minds exercising abstract cognition. We think: “Well what’s the problem? I love sitting still, I can sit and work a whole day without getting fidgety so surely a child should be able to do the same!”

We say that “the child is acting out” or “it is misbehaving” or “the child doesn’t follow the instructions.” But have we really considered what it is like for a child to have to sit still all day? Have we considered that we too are the result of this brutal process where our natural expression has been broken down and suppressed until nothing was left but a docile thinking-machine that can’t even feel, let alone consider itself as a living, breathing physical organism?

A couple of days ago I read an article where veteran teacher, Alex Wiggins describe what she realized after following two students around for an entire day. She would do the work they did, sit with them during class and basically experience everything that a student goes through on a daily basis.

What she found was heartbreaking and alarming to say the least:

“In every class for four long blocks, the expectation was for us to come in, take our seats, and sit down for the duration of the time. By the end of the day, I could not stop yawning and I was desperate to move or stretch. I couldn’t believe how alert my host student was, because it took a lot of conscious effort for me not to get up and start doing jumping jacks in the middle of Science just to keep my mind and body from slipping into oblivion after so many hours of sitting passively…”

“High school students are sitting passively and listening during approximately 90 percent of their classes.”

“In eight periods of high school classes, my host students rarely spoke. Sometimes it was because the teacher was lecturing; sometimes it was because another student was presenting; sometimes it was because another student was called to the board to solve a difficult equation; and sometimes it was because the period was spent taking a test.”

“It was not just the sitting that was draining but that so much of the day was spent absorbing information but not often grappling with it.”

“I asked my tenth-grade host, Cindy, if she felt like she made important contributions to class or if, when she was absent, the class missed out on the benefit of her knowledge or contributions, and she laughed and said no.”

“…it made me realize how little autonomy students have, how little of their learning they are directing or choosing. I felt especially bad about opportunities I had missed in the past in this regard…”

You feel a little bit like a nuisance all day long.”

“I lost count of how many times we were told be quiet and pay attention. It’s normal to do so – teachers have a set amount of time and we need to use it wisely. But in shadowing, throughout the day, you start to feel sorry for the students who are told over and over again to pay attention because you understand part of what they are reacting to is sitting and listening all day. It’s really hard to do, and not something we ask adults to do day in and out. Think back to a multi-day conference or long PD day you had and remember that feeling by the end of the day – that need to just disconnect, break free, go for a run, chat with a friend, or surf the web and catch up on emails. That is how students often feel in our classes, not because we are boring per se but because they have been sitting and listening most of the day already. They have had enough.”

“In addition, there was a good deal of sarcasm and snark directed at students and I recognized, uncomfortably, how much I myself have engaged in this kind of communication…Of course it feels ridiculous to have to explain the same thing five times, but suddenly, when I was the one taking the tests, I was stressed. I was anxious. I had questions. And if the person teaching answered those questions by rolling their eyes at me, I would never want to ask another question again. I feel a great deal more empathy for students after shadowing, and I realize that sarcasm, impatience, and annoyance are a way of creating a barrier between me and them. They do not help learning“.

Teachers are stressed; the educational environment is artificial and ironically not designed to optimize learning. There are too many children in one class and while all children has specific individual needs, they’re expected to follow (and the teacher must teach according to) a standardized ‘one-size-fits-all’ lesson plan. It is no wonder that most of us leave school asking ourselves if we ever really learned anything.

In my work as a teacher I also come across children that ‘act out’ and that can’t sit still, and I do get frustrated. But what I refuse to do is to blame the children – and if I do it anyway in the silence of my own mind, I make sure that I investigate how I can stop blaming the child and instead look for solutions through which I can change the situation.

I had a class where the students were continuously goofing around and laughing. As it kept happening and it made it difficult for me to teach, I became more and more frustrated. I tried talking to the kids about it, explaining to them how it was difficult to teach when they were goofing around all the time. I even agreed with them that they could have a portion of the lesson to goof around if they promised to pay attention the rest of the time. Nothing seemed to work. So I decided to take another look at the situation and see if there were dimensions missing that I hadn’t considered.

I then began looking at how I could solve the point and to my surprise I realized that it was me who was being too restrictive because I had an idea about how the lessons were supposed to go. I realized that within my need to control the lesson and how it played out, there was actually a fear in terms of my own role as a teacher, what the children are ‘supposed to learn’ and a fear of how others would see me as a teacher if I was not following ‘the norm’.

I realized that I too am a product of the exact same school system that perpetuates an unnatural learning environment, not optimized for learning but for producing docile and complacent individuals.

I decided to let go of my control. I decided to let the children do what they do and see if I instead can join with them and support them. So I did and it was very interesting. I laughed with them, I goofed with them. I allowed myself to relax.

What I started to realize is that the students primarily need interactive exercises that are not just about reading and writing while they sit still. They need to feel, touch and hear. They need to use their hands, be creative and create a connection between themselves on a physical level and whatever it is they are learning about.

Because as we’ve seen, learning as it is constructed now, is based on the premise that the child must disconnect from its physical body and literally ‘plug out’ or go into a vegetative state, while the mind is supposed to be the only active tool that the child use. By doing that, we are cutting the child off from its life force, from its creativity, its passion and as a result: from itself. THAT is why they are so passive, why they don’t participate, why they don’t feel an ownership for what they learn; because essentially, it has nothing to do with them. Their bodies and minds belongs to the school, to society.

The whole purpose of going to school is to assimilate children just enough for them to be functional members of society who will work and consume in an endless cycle like little cogs in a wheel.

In previous blogs, I’ve discussed how important it is for children that whatever they learn is connected to the real world, that it has meaning for them so that school doesn’t just become a mock or simulated version of reality that is entirely disconnected from their own lives. What I hadn’t considered was that one of the ways that education must be real and connected to the child, is through the physical.

So I realized that I had to connect the lesson material and the topics, the words and the grammar to physical activities. So I started to incorporate that into my lessons, where the children would switch between reading , writing and doing physical exercises or otherwise interact/be creative. To my surprise. I was able to teach them a lot easier. They were not disrupting or disturbing and they would happily join in. It was also a lot more fun for me as a teacher and even I learned a lot.

So what all this has taught me, is to focus more on checking where the students are, especially if they’re disrupting – because there might be something that I’m not seeing where they need and require a different type of learning environment, especially focusing more on being physical and less on sitting still. Overall I’ve discovered that anything interactive is much more enjoyable for them, and even here they can still learn all the things they need to learn – but it can be in a fun and creative way. I learned that when I allow myself to let go of control, lean back and observe, I actually see a lot more and can see solutions that I hadn’t considered before because I was too locked in an idea about how I wanted things to be.

We domesticate children to exist in a world that is anything but civilized, but that is in fact barbaric and savage and we tell them that what is inside them as their natural expression is ‘too wild’, ‘too savage’, that it must be contained, controlled and cannot be let out into the open, because: “What if everyone did that?”

Well… what if they did?

It is not the children that has to change, that has to behave, sit up, sit straight and shut up. It is us. We have to dare to think out of the box, hell; live out of the box – and realize that we’ve become the box and to change it, we have to change ourselves..

Supporting the creation and nurturing of self-aware and self-responsible child is imperative for us to change the current course our world is on. Because it is through the domestication of children where we disconnect them from being alert, awake and present in their physical bodies, that we create those zombie-like placated human beings that do not contribute anything of value to our world but perpetuating the cycle of working and consuming.

For example: Students only learn about the world; the names of the countries, cities and continents as abstract knowledge that they just have to learn to survive without fully understanding why. They are disconnected from seeing themselves as part of the world, as existing in an interdependent and interconnected world. They are unable to place themselves in the shoes of another with compassion because they have never learned to even be firmly grounded in their own shoes. Instead they exist in an artificial tension field between virtual reality and their own minds. It doesn’t have to be this way.

Education could be so much more if we would only admit to ourselves that the society we are preparing our children for, is NOT the most optimized, is not how the world should be. (Obviously because the situation is what it is, we also can’t just entice them to rebel and become oppositional because that doesn’t work either.) But we can show them both sides of the coin.

We can provide them with a holistic perspective that works with a three-dimensional and tangible reality, instead of focusing exclusively on a one-dimensional simulation. We can stand by them and stand with them as they go through the education system, to not allow their life force and expression to be squashed, but to find creative ways to work with the system in the system and slowly but surely prepare the road before us of taking the leap into a different way of co-existing.

Just imagine the adults who would come out of such an education system and the potential they would have to create substantial change in this world.

If you are ready to get involved in a political and economic change of paradigms and thereby also a change of our education systems, I invite you to investigate the Equal Life Foundation’s proposal of a Guaranteed Living Income System. This proposal suggests a groundbreaking change in political paradigms that doesn’t ‘take sides’ but instead presents a completely new approach to solving the problems we are currently facing in this world.

Relevant articles and materials in relation to the subject of domestication of the natural child:

http://missnightmutters.com/2014/11/dear-parent-about-that-kid.html

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/10/24/teacher-spends-two-days-as-a-student-and-is-shocked-at-what-she-learned/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/03/critical-exposure-school-to-prison-pipeline_n_6094376.html?utm_hp_ref=mostpopular&ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000010

http://www.edutopia.org/new-teacher-burnout-retention

Re-Educate yourself here:

A couple of months ago I was part of the panel on a Live Google Hangout about the Common Core standards initiative. I definitely recommend watching it.

The Ultimate History Lesson with John Taylor Gatto:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YQiW_l848t8

PROPAGANDA | FULL ENGLISH VERSION (2012)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6NMr2VrhmFI

The Century of the Self
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7EwXmxpExw

Psywar
http://metanoia-films.org/psywar/

The Trap
http://archive.org/details/AdamCurtis_TheTrap

The Power Principle
http://metanoia-films.org/the-power-principle/

Human Resources: Social Engineering in the 20th Century
http://metanoia-films.org/human-resources/

The Story of Your Enslavement
http://youtu.be/Xbp6umQT58A

Blind Spot
https://vimeo.com/30559203

Inequality for all documentary:
http://www.putlocker.to/watch-inequality-for-all-online-free-putlocker.html

The Four Horsemen:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5fbvquHSPJU

On Advertisement and the end of the world:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_8gM0Q58iP0

Third World America – Chris Hedges
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=drZE65_134g

More articles about parenting and education in a Guaranteed Living Income System:

http://livingincomeforall.wordpress.com/2014/04/03/parents-need-a-living-income-now/

https://livingincomeguaranteed.wordpress.com/category/parenting/

http://economistjourneytolife.blogspot.com/2014/01/day-259-living-income-guaranteed-and.html

https://livingincomeguaranteed.wordpress.com/2014/04/04/the-self-perpetuating-cycle-of-homelessness-and-living-income-guaranteed/

Watch the hangout about Education for a New World in Order: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zlj5wGCRnSU

 

Refugee Children as Casualities in the Global War for Profit. 97

Refugee Children as Casualities in the Global War for Profit. 97

I work as a native language teacher and my colleagues and I teach children who come from over 100 different countries. Some come from severely war-torn countries such as Palestine, Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Others come from countries with various degrees of poverty, starvation and civil unrest, such as countries in the African region, South America and parts of Asia.

All across the world, families migrate from countries with dangerous and poor conditions to countries with higher living standards and stable infrastructures.

My colleagues often talk about the struggles the children (and parents) experience when immigrating to Sweden. Many of the children have nightmares from their experiences with war in their homeland; they talk about the dangerous and arduous journey they’ve taken before arriving in Sweden. Sometimes they’ve had to undergo terrible struggles involving fleeing from country to country or having to spend months and years in destitute refugee camps in desolate parts of the world.

Many children come with little to no school background, but even those who have gone to school have trouble using their experience and knowledge because when they migrate to a new country, they have to start over with the most basic language skills. In an extreme way, its like a reset button where nothing that existed before migrating to the new country is is valuable or relevant. That is also why so many immigrants desperately try to cling onto a little bit of their past lives, their culture and customs. Integration of immigrants in a new country’s culture is a complex and long process and many immigrants will have experienced having lived in a country for more than 20 years and still feeling like an outsider or being seen as an outsider by the native population. Immigration is therefore also not the one-size-fits-all solution to the global problems faced by so many countries, but I will discuss that in a moment.

Sweden is unique in that it is a country that has first language education for children on its state budget. What this means is that all children, all the way from kindergarten to high school, whose parents come from a different country have the opportunity to receive a weekly lesson in their first language and some even receive additional tutoring if they’re struggling to cope with the lessons taught in Swedish. So if a child is for example from Somalia and is having trouble in the Swedish-speaking chemistry classes, a Somalia teacher can come to the school and assist them specifically with chemistry or other subjects that they struggle with.

Sometimes the children come directly from war-torn Syria or other countries and are siphoned straight into the Swedish school system without having even the most basic language skills. Other times children even come unaccompanied by adults and the municipality the child arrive into initiates an apparatus of support with interpreters, accommodation and school.

Teachers who teach Swedish as a second language often represent the children’s first encounter with the Swedish school system and the ones I have talked to unanimously express how happy and excited the children are when they come to school. One teacher shared with me how the children who immigrate to Sweden have an entirely different drive and passion for going to school than most Swedish children; they are grateful. More than anyone, they know what it is like to go to bed scared and hungry and more than anyone, they know that life is not something to be taken for granted. If only adults knew the same. All over the world children go to bed beaten, starved, petrified that they might not see another day.

When my colleagues receive children from Syria that cannot sleep at night because they have nightmares about burning bodies, nightmares that comes from real events their little eyes should have never been witness to, we stand face to face with the consequences of the world we have created. But there is little we as teachers can do, besides doing everything in our power to provide those children with an education that ensures that they can grow up and make a real difference in the world. And that is after all quite a lot.

No child (or any person) should have to flee their home country due to famine, war or lack of resources or infrastructure, but because of the world we have created for ourselves on this planet, people are forced to migrate around the globe to seek for better lives for themselves and their children.

Immigrants in receiving countries are often looked at as a pest, a form of human infestation. More and more countries in Europe but also the US and Australia are becoming increasingly hostile towards immigrants and refugees and all along no one talks about the elephant in the room; the fact that these same countries contributed to and largely are responsible for creating the current situation.

Countries such as Syria, Iraq, Palestine, Mexico, Burma and Sudan where people are fleeing from, are not isolated from the rest of the world; it is all interconnected and economic interests in one country sets of a spiral of events in another, a fact that is largely ignored by the citizens of the countries that benefit from the riches.

We are happy as long as we can buy cheap clothes and purchase cheap oil while blissfully ignoring the chain of events that brought those cheap products into our lives. But when we come face to face with the people whose lives were destroyed so that ours could be safe and prosperous we ought to take a good long hard look in the mirror and ask ourselves whether it is worth it.

Whether we like it or not, the world is joined at the hip, however disjointed it it may be. We can’t escape each other and we can’t escape the mess that we’ve made for ourselves on this planet, and no matter how high we build fences to barricade ourselves from the hungry mob, we cannot escape the fact that this world exists as one interconnected system.

I am grateful that I get to meet people from countries such as Somalia, Syria, Palestine, Iraq and Iran on a daily basis, that I get to ask them questions, stare them in the eyes and shake their hands and see and feel that they are real people, real living human beings with skills and qualities and expressions that are unique and irreplaceable. Because otherwise it is easy to start looking at people at a distance and see them as numbers at best, and at worst, as nothing more than parasites.

I am continuously humbled by the resilience of my colleagues from war-torn countries; that they are able to go to work and teach children and I am humbled by the respect and perseverance that my Swedish colleagues put into receiving children from around the world, to not be invasive or dogmatic or normative, but to gently assist them to acclimatize to a new life, a life in a country that they would have preferred not to be in, but that they are grateful to be welcomed into nonetheless. Let’s not make them regret it.

For the sake of our children, because they are all our children – we ought to seriously consider choosing a different path than the one we are on at the moment, because it brings nothing but more death and destruction.

When we at the Equal Life Foundation talk about a Right to Life for all people, these are not just empty words that we speak in one instance, while in the next callously contribute to the death and destruction of thousands through our indirect actions. We are actually proposing a solution, an innovative way to solve the problem, by making small but significant adjustments in our political and economic systems. Each country will be able to implement this for themselves in a way that suits their particular needs, but through it we will also be able to help and assist each other on a global level, so that no one has to flee from war or famine or escape a life destined to be lived in poverty and squalor.

Imagine being a parent and having to send your child alone on a dangerous journey to a country halfway around the world, because you know that this is the best opportunity they have to survive. Imagine being a child having seen nothing but death, destruction and famine since the day you were born, having to flee across the world and coming to a country where you don’t understand the language only to be looked upon with fear and disdain. No one should have to experience that, ever. That is why my vote goes to a Living Income Guaranteed System and for the sake of all children, I hope yours does too.

If you are ready to get involved in a political and economic change of paradigms and thereby also a change of our education systems, I invite you to investigate the Equal Life Foundation’s proposal of a Guaranteed Living Income System. This proposal suggests a groundbreaking change in political paradigms that doesn’t ‘take sides’ but instead presents a completely new approach to solving the problems we are currently facing in this world.

Re-Educate yourself here:

A couple of months ago I was part of the panel on a Live Google Hangout about the Common Core standards initiative. I definitely recommend watching it.

The Ultimate History Lesson with John Taylor Gatto:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YQiW_l848t8

PROPAGANDA | FULL ENGLISH VERSION (2012)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6NMr2VrhmFI

The Century of the Self
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7EwXmxpExw

Psywar
http://metanoia-films.org/psywar/

The Trap
http://archive.org/details/AdamCurtis_TheTrap

The Power Principle
http://metanoia-films.org/the-power-principle/

Human Resources: Social Engineering in the 20th Century
http://metanoia-films.org/human-resources/

The Story of Your Enslavement
http://youtu.be/Xbp6umQT58A

Blind Spot
https://vimeo.com/30559203

Inequality for all documentary:
http://www.putlocker.to/watch-inequality-for-all-online-free-putlocker.html

The Four Horsemen:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5fbvquHSPJU

On Advertisement and the end of the world:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_8gM0Q58iP0

Third World America – Chris Hedges
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=drZE65_134g

More articles about parenting and education in a Guaranteed Living Income System:

http://livingincomeforall.wordpress.com/2014/04/03/parents-need-a-living-income-now/

https://livingincomeguaranteed.wordpress.com/category/parenting/

http://economistjourneytolife.blogspot.com/2014/01/day-259-living-income-guaranteed-and.html

https://livingincomeguaranteed.wordpress.com/2014/04/04/the-self-perpetuating-cycle-of-homelessness-and-living-income-guaranteed/

Watch the hangout about Education for a New World in Order: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zlj5wGCRnSU