Free Progress Education + Self-Directed Education
I believe I have identified the path to which my children’s education will follow.
The well-grooved path of the current educational model matches the current infrastructure that is American society at large: artificial pavements that provide pre-determined path-seeking at ever increasing speeds in directions already known. The potholes are repaved with cheap material so as to look fresh and smooth to glazed-over, paved-over eyes, but the underlying issue remains embedded in false hopes and beliefs. It is only a matter of time before the surface cracks again. The glazed-over, paved-over eyes have seen this trick before and many have been eying alternatives, variant pathways that take us to destinations these paved pathways cannot reach.
I saw today a datamap of a topological territory. It represents “max travel distance per X hours in a mountainous area” The data points (or data lumps) progress slowly where there were more hills to ascend and valleys to descend. Where there is a river bed or flat ground, the progress was quicker. When I observed the map as it unfolded in time, I was made aware that each data line progressed at their own rate, and even more to the point, each data line had no specific destination in mind. The path was chosen and the ground was covered. I would like to think of self-directed education as a similar model, each individual branching out on its own path, the journey as the mission in mind, not a specific end point.
If we bring this back to reality, with each individual’s learning curve in mind, one could easily see this as a mess, as a free for all rather than a free progress. Where is the structure? What is the point of “random” points going willy-nilly as they please? I feel this is where, in our real life, without the metaphorical data points, we can include the interpersonal. The parents, the teachers, the comrades, the co-workers, the mentors and the family units. These groupings introduce the influence, the meaning in the path. The child (as a data point and a real individual) will constantly observe (Michael’s note) the groupings, learn from observation, seek advice, ask for help, ….a healthy adult will also seek out others for observation and advice, continuing education.
I frequently state that this site is a placeholder for my education. What I have listed above can be applied to my journey here. I play hooky from work so I can sneak behind the school and smoke the cigarettes of life, sneak a drag of reality, speak easy with undercover agents, conspire on how to overthrow the system and create a beautiful anarchic wonderland in our minds…and even more so, in the true world. The things that I read and hear from you I am living. The smokes you bring are of the finest quality. Yes, I will still “smoke” in secret…I haven’t accumulated enough power and influence to smoke these great ideas in public, to fend off the blowback of blowing my cover, to charm the pants off those seeking to put me back in class or in detention.
I have been reading your book @MarcoM (I feel it to be of great importance to get to know the ones I love and admire, through their writing…so I couldn’t resist purchasing your book!) and am learning. I am learning again that education, real education does not have to be a clandestine endeavor.
My son, since the age of two (now approaching 5 and then Kindergarten next autumn), has stated at times, matter-of-factly, that he does not want to go to school. He also states that he is a teacher, not a student. We have tried to explain how learning works, how teachers are there to help the learning process, how school will be a fun place to explore friends and new projects. I am having doubts on occasion that our words are real. The teachers and schools mean well and may be excellent schools, but is this the best we can offer as parents?
When he states that he is a teacher, I believe him…teaching Miles is next to impossible. Your opening quote, Marco, from Galileo “you cannot teach a man anything, you can only help him find it within himself” approaches a deeper truth now that I have experienced teaching first hand. He will learn on his own damn time. He is doing things his way which is the right way, goddammit! I believe him. He has essentially self-taught through self-directive efforts since he could make his own choices. He learned to read soon after his fourth birthday, starting with maybe 50-75 words in his vocabulary. Now he reads books 50-75 pages…a 2nd or 3rd-grade level. His memory and comprehension are next to flawless. Of course, he is being taught through undercover parental methods and tricks (I’m beginning to become an expert in this secret agent stuff)…his parents are the right balance of direction and allowing self-direction. We plant seeds around the home (no TV, books falling off the shelves, a large backyard) and in the community (the Friends community reflects our values and provides social outlets, the Filipino friends and family are a direct antidote to the American individualism and isolationism). I will continue to state that I know my children will be receiving a full-bodied education wherever they may be. My sons are highly resilient. I imagine that my children will go through the public education system as @achronon has described his children experienced it…constant questions, bucking the system respectfully, etc. I do hope that they receive detention at some point for their stubbornness and refusal to give into the system.
I wish to close with a quick thank you for everyone’s efforts to articulate what education means. it is really a beautiful thing to discover the like-minded, open-minded along with the open-hearted and all the rest.