Radical Unschooling

#100 Days of Home Ed…Day 11

Yesterday, I closed with a quirky saying…

Edu-me-cation.

My family history behind that word is not very positive. My natural father, i.e. sperm donor, was a dreamer (What me? Nuts don’t fall far from trees, you say?). He was attending the local men’s college and living with his sister and brother-in-law when my mother met him. They were one of the worst matches imaginable…and if not for me…

Of course, being raised in a ‘poor white trash’ working class family going to college was seen by my family as…uppity. In fact, I think they blamed education for him leaving us when my mother was pregnant with my brother. So all my life growing up, I heard them talk about how…edu-me-cated…my father was. It was double edged sword…a knock on him for trying to break free of his ‘rightful’ place…and them too for mis-pronouncing a word they knew well.

Of course, when I married the preacher thirty years ago…he was also called edu-me-cated. Oh dear, what would they have thought of Cookie Monster? Good thing I edu-me-cated myself and rose above all that prejudice.

So that word historically did not have positive connotations for me. But as I typed…How’s that for edu-me-cation? It dawned on me. That is WHY I home ed PanKwake.

To put the ‘me’ in education…to personalize it.

It all goes back to that one room schoolhouse I spoke of yesterday…and in fact further back to the very foundations of state run education. So today, let’s take a brief look at the history of education in the US and UK…and why standardization is NOT a good thing.

One thing to realize is that the education system as we know it today is only about one-hundred and fifty years old. Prior to that only the wealthy could afford tutors or ‘schools.’ Of course, that did not mean that working classes did not know basics like reading and math. But like Abraham Lincoln that was knowledge gained by the oil lamp in the home, usually at the mother’s knee…after the day’s work was finished. Its purpose was simple…so you could read the bible and people not be able to cheat you when you sold your crops.

Then came the Industrial Revolution…and the move to the cities. In England this coincided with other Victorian reformations. But at its core, state supported education had two purposes:

  1. Provide free childcare for factory workers.
  2. Train up the next generation of those workers…making them better for the employers…i.e. a reliable under class.

This second purpose can still be seen today in the focus of schools upon sitting quietly at your desk, walking in orderly lines and above all doing what you are told without questioning.

There is more than a grain of truth to this quote attributed in various degrees to comedian George Carlin…

Do Not Get Me Wrong…This is NOT about the teachers…the educators. I have friends who are teachers. Heck, two of my adult children have worked in the school systems in the UK and China…and one aspires to do so in the US. Even PanKwake has said that she wants to when she grows up…so she can protect the ‘superheros’ like herself. These people are under-paid, unappreciated and over-worked. Many of them went into teaching for the right reasons. Even some of the ‘bad ones’ were probably once idealistic.

No, I am talking as Carlin was about…THE System.

A system that is geared to conformity. That values rote memorization of facts and dates…more than understanding the WHY behind them. A system that esteems to generate workers more than leaders.

But I could go on and on and on about this one. And I will. Tomorrow…and likely the next day. But right now, this worker bee needs to get up and moving. Making that beautiful house into a home…a fortress and refuge for the people I love.

Besides this is a good stopping point…make you think about that for a while…

 

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