Project World Peace logo10+ Reasons Why I Dislike Conventional Education

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Smarter Education??
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10+ Reasons Why I Dislike Conventional Education Penguin and books graphic
  • 1. Age segregation: Modern schools separate children from adult life and group them by age. In most traditional societies, children live and work alongside adults, and they play and learn in mixed-age groups of children. (Carol Black, posted 7 April 2014, accessed 9 October 2017)
  • 2. Hierarchical ranking and competition: In modern schools, students compete to be the best, and are ranked by their performance. Many traditional cultures are more egalitarian, and consider overt competition or ranking to be bad manners. (Carol Black, posted 7 April 2014, accessed 9 October 2017)
  • 3. Hierarchical control: Modern education is normally organized in hierarchical authority structures, where the teacher controls the child, the district and state control the teacher, and increasingly, systems of national standards and funding control the state. Traditional learning is often non-coerced, and the child is frequently free from direct control of her moment-to-moment choices and activities. (Carol Black, posted 7 April 2014, accessed 9 October 2017)
  • 4. Separation from nature: Modern schools usually require children to be indoors for most of the day. Children in traditional societies typically spend much of their time outdoors in the natural world, and develop an intimate knowledge of their local ecosystems through their daily activities. (Carol Black, posted 7 April 2014, accessed 9 October 2017)
Three traditional kids hanging over the edge of a canoe, which also contains fresh food plants
  • 5. Restricted physical activity: Modern schools usually require children to be sedentary and quiet for many hours each day. Children in traditional societies are generally free to move about, talk, laugh, etc., and are physically active both in work and in play. (Carol Black, posted 7 April 2014, accessed 9 October 2017)
  • 6. Text-based rather than experience-based learning: Most learning in schools is based on de-contextualized knowledge encoded in written form. In most traditional cultures, children learn most of what they know through hands-on experience and participation in community life. (Carol Black, posted 7 April 2014, accessed 9 October 2017; also see #14, #18)
  • 7. Direct instruction: School learning relies heavily on lecture and direct teacher-controlled instruction. Learning in traditional societies is more often initiated by the child through observation, experiment, play, and voluntary community sharing of information, story, song, and ritual. (Carol Black, posted 7 April 2014, accessed 9 October 2017; also see #14, #18)
  • 8. Age-based “standards” and the invention of “failure”: Modern schooling creates standards of learning based on chronological age and then talks in terms of failure or disability when children do not meet those standards. Traditional societies generally have a more flexible approach to child development, assuming that a child will learn when she is ready, and that variations in the timing of learning have little importance. (Carol Black, posted 7 April 2014, accessed 9 October 2017)
Broken brick wall, fractured in many places
  • 9. Teachers Too Stressed = their Mental Health is Poor. As at 2019, over two-thirds of UK teachers say their job has adversely affected their mental health. Watch this 1½ minute animation! "It takes a village to raise a child" (African proverb). We need a group effort rather than individuals.
  • 10. Where is the Love (Part 1)? We’ve bought into the idea that education is about training and “success,” defined monetarily, rather than learning to think critically and to challenge. We should not forget that the true purpose of education is to make minds, not careers. A culture that does not grasp the vital interplay between morality and power, which mistakes management techniques for wisdom, which fails to understand that the measure of a civilization is its compassion, not its speed or ability to consume, condemns itself to death.” (Chris Hedges, Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle)
  • 11. Where is the Love (Part 2)? “An absence of love within a family or a relationship is taken as a sign of something having gone very wrong... We could say an absence of love means a school may coach children to pass a set percentage of tests, rather than helping them learn how to live.” (AL Kennedy, posted 27 September 2013, accessed 15 February 2019)
  • 12. Where is the Love (Part 3)? “Why should I be studying for a future that soon may be no more, when no one is doing anything to save that future? And what is the point of learning facts when the most important facts clearly means nothing to our society?” (Greta Thunberg, Swedish climate activist)
Dark Planet
  • 13. Politics. "Governments didn't educate and vaccinate to be nice. They needed the masses to be useful." (Yuval Noah Harari, BBC, posted/accessed 28 April 2017; also see #17, #19)
  • 14. Where is the Testimony? "The work goes best when you draw on participants' own personal experiences, not their opinions. Opinions invite argumentation. Telling about experience invites listening. Opinions tend to bring on conflict, whereas shared experiences tend to elicit curiosity and empathy. When participants move from experiential testimony to opinion, bring them back, knowing that most schooling discourages testimony." (Peggy McIntosh, ‘Some Notes for Facilitators on Presenting My White Privilege Papers’, dated 2010, accessed 9 June 2020; also see #6, #7, #18)
  • 15. Where is the Flow? Daniel Goleman in Emotional Intelligence (Chapter 6) advocates Flow as a new model for education. Flow is about finding skills or knowledge that a child spontaneously engages in. That state of flow is mildly ecstatic and thus very motivating. In order to sustain the flow requires slightly challenging your ability. This is the seed for high levels of attainment. Flow and its associated positive states are the healthiest and most natural way to teach children, '...motivating them from inside rather than by threat or promise of reward.' It avoids the boredom, anxiety, emotional dysfunctionality and coercion of conventional education. 
  • 16. Gender issues. Schools are either mixed-sex or single-sex (only boys or only girls). Traditional societies will have aspects of both of these; most of the time, mixing happens [see point 1]; there may also be times of separation when traditional gender roles are learned. As adults are present throughout all this in traditional cultures [see point 1], sexual harassment and abuse are easily handled - unlike modern schools (also see here). This fluid approach to gender is authentic socialisation.
A mother carries a stick over her shoulder from which hang two baskets, one with firewood, the other with a child, Myanmar
  • 17. The risk of being a lifelong slave of Evil = The need to Unschool. If you have been conventionally schooled, you will have been brainwashed by many oppressive forces. These include: patriarchy & authoritarianism, sexism & misogyny, racism & privilege, consumerism & capitalism. You need to demedicalise! Free yourself from the dominance of competition as the only way to be, and move far more to cooperative and win-win ways in your life. You will need to unlearn many things and it is a Herculean task. [Also see #13. #19]
  • 18. Lack of Imagination (& Thinking for Self, Problem Solving). Consider: (1) Prof. Feynman (8 July 2022 tweet): 'When your "education" limits your imagination it's called indoctrination. Those who cannot think for themselves are truly lost. Education should be a rewarding experience which allows you to think, imagine, question, doubt and solve problems.' (2) Albert Einstein: 'Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.' and 'The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.' [Also see #6, #7, #14]
Screenshot of Christopher Cartwright 4 July 2022 tweet, whose essence is: 'Mankind is prepping to go back to the suicidal climate of 4 millions years ago - and people believed that education and internet would make mankind smarter'
Does conventional education and the internet make humans smarter?
Or do we need to deschool, decolonise, demedicalise, etc.?
(Screenshot of Christopher Cartwright, 4 July 2022 tweet with his sarcastic humour 'So fun')

  • 19. We do not nurture responsible and compassionate Global Citizens. "My dad is a teacher and he always felt very frustrated by the western education system – he used to say that the two most difficult things a human being ever learns how to do is how to walk and how to talk. Yet from day one at school, you’re taught to sit down and shut up. But if you think about what we actually need to be teaching children, which is how to be a contributing member of society, then there are really only two things that you need to teach them: empathy and curiosity." (Oliver Jeffers, children’s author, who grew up in Belfast and lived through the Troubles, quoted in The Guardian, posted and accessed 9 October 2022; also see #13, #17)
Two boys are playing in a forest stream, splashing water joyfully, whilst a bird flies between them

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Natural Education

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Page last updated: 20 September 2023.