schools, learning and adults
[12/11/97; updated 9/11/98]
JAMES REDFIELD, in The Celestine Prophecy, has this to say about how we should deal with children:
We should view [children] as they really are, as end points in evolution that lead us forward. But in order to learn to evolve they need our energy on a constant basis, unconditionally. The worst thing that can be done to children is to drain their energy while correcting them. This is what creates control dramas in them, as you already know. But these learned manipulations on the child's part can be avoided if the adults give them all the energy they need no matter what the situation. That is why they should always be included in conversations, especially conversations about them. And you should never take responsibility for more children than you can give attention to....
If there are too many children for the number of adults, then the adults become overwhelmed and unable to give enough energy. The children begin to compete with each other for the adult's time... sibling rivalry.
But the Manuscript says that this problem is more important than people think. Adults often glamorize the idea of large families and children growing up together. But children should learn the world from adults, not from other children. In too many cultures, children are running in gangs. The Manuscripts says humans will slowly understand that they should not bring children into the world unless there is at least one adult committed to focus full attention, all of the time, on each child....[We] will learn to extend... families beyond blood ties. So that someone else is able to provide one-on-one attention. All the energy does not have to come from the parents alone. In fact, it is better if it does not. But whoever cares for the children must provide this one-on-one attention.
THIS IS a framework for a form of socialization more akin to tribal cultures and far less destructive of true self than our current form of brainwashing: school. But Redfield doesn't romanticize it, he just gives us the essentials for a loose but caring and attentive structure that would develop character and allow children to enter the adult world at their own pace and without antagonism. This requires parents, of course, who are motivated to enhance the development of the child's true self and his/her unique gifts-- not parents who superimpose their own goals.
IT AMAZES me that our schools insist on such archaic forms--large classes structured generally by age, authoritarian disciplinary structures, mandatory subjects, mandatory times, competition, grades-- and many mandatory years of this stuff. No child gets enough attention. Almost all are held back by the "lowest common denominator". The bright "freaks" are skipped grades, enter Harvard at 12 or 13, and remain social freaks all their lives. The majority learn far less than they are capable, and the few at the bottom of the grades list (this doesn't mean they are not bright) are so disillusioned they either give up or join gangs and fight back at the whole system. And all this when we finally have the technology (and growing pool of adults with some unbelievable skills and experience and lots to offer) to make learning available at exactly the rate and time and subject the child (and the adult) may wish it.
SCHOOLS AS they presently exist are as they are because the power-structure had a vested interest in keeping them thay way-- though schools came into existence because parents were no longer available to teach their own children when the industrial revolution took hold, and suddenly masses of adults (and children) were required to leave their homes and land each day for long periods to work in the new factories. Remember, this way of life is barely 200 years old-- the first true factories came into existence in the 1770s, along with the first mass transportation systems (canals); railroads came in the early and mid 1800s. This is when the power-structure began to view human beings as a commodity like any other-- a resource to be mined, manipulated, even owned-- and though slavery has been illegal for some 130 years, they still want to own you. This is why they want to keep you in school for all of your formative years. Conditioning you to accept their rules and their precribed view of the order of things is 80% of the time and content of our present "educational" systems.
WE DON'T NEED schools and classes and 40-to-1 student-teacher ratios anymore-- just internet-based learning resource centers staffed by adults in every neighborhood. By you or people you know or can easily get to know. And let's by all means extend our families to include these people who have time to give mentoring attention to our children.
THE CONCEPT of public schooling schooling was great: free education to all, but it has degenerated to either a place we dump our kids while we work, or an over-competitive and integral part of a soul-destroying system. There should be far less structure to it, and it must be de-institutionalized, because what I talk about here-- individually mentored "programed learning"-- has been talked about in educational cirrcles for decades, but the seeming majority of teachers and administrators resist such a change or feel powerless to make it happen.
WE NEED schools part of the time to aid in socialization, and to hold things like seminars and workshops, and, yes, testing and examinations to see if those who want to go higher are ready. We also need to get business and industry involved in these workshops and seminars, and they should be committed to training and apprentice programs-- some paid, some not-- in what corresponds to our high school years now.
WE CERTAINLY need our universities, but undergraduate education in the USA frankly stinks. Largely taught by over-worked teaching assistants, and examined via multiple-choise "examinations" that some monkeys could "ace" by chance, we make better sausages. When "lower" level (BA) learning involves more self-directed and mentored study/learning, universities will be unable to be sausage factories and will be forced to get back to what they should be: true places of higher learning.
WE NEED more people who want to teach and mentor, but many students, through self-directed and mentored study, can be good teachers themselves, and much of the teaching need not be done in schools. More should be taking place in closer community groups and, indeed, in business, agriculture, and industry. I think all this can be easily financed, because if we give ag/bus/industry tax credit for getting involved, and spend less time in classrooms, it's got to cost less.
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