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The Art of Education: Part 2 of 4

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The Art of Education: Part 2 of 4

By Linda Dobson

ChangeAhead education

Reclaim your family, community and self.

We have sleepily accepted that each young mind exists as an empty vessel that needs to be filled with an accumulation of facts and figures, and we accept that, once accomplished, this will lead our children to success. This term – success – the goal of our backwards educational practices, has itself been perverted. Schools spend lots of time teaching us a connection between success and job, money, materialism, and class status. There’s even a lesson in relative success (your success depends on your classmates’ failures) thrown in for free.

Redefining Education Success

What’s to stop us from broadening this definition of success? Can’t the woman who discovers that turning cakes into works of art gives her the greatest joy have as her reward for work, not fame or fortune, but a sense of fulfillment? Can’t we call her a success?

Or what about the family who finds life in the woods in a broken-down house harder but more rewarding and peaceful than the tension and crowds of the city? Can’t we say these family members are succeeding in accomplishing that which is most important to them?

Of course we can. We need only change our perspective and reeducate ourselves to accept a broader definition of success, like The Britannica World Language Dictionary sets forth: “A favorable or prosperous course or termination of anything attempted.” (Emphasis added.)

Changing perspective, particularly about success, is not easy. After hearing the old lessons for so many years, the same message continuously bombards our daily lives through TV, newspapers and magazines, bulk mail catalogs, friends,  neighbors, and family. The old lessons run  deep. But when held up  to the  light  of scrutiny, they offer no truth.  They offer, instead, conditioning that creates producers and consumers, the  kind of conditioning  needed  to  keep  the  economic  machine of our country humming. And the machine has a voracious appetite.

Education Without School

If someone announced, “As of today, all U.S. schools are bankrupt. Anyone wishing to learn something should learn it at home,” imagine the panic in households from Seattle to Miami! We, the people, would have to figure things out! But no matter how much this turned your life upside down, it wouldn’t come close to the confusion that would rumble through the halls of every state capitol and in Washington, D.C. Schools would no longer hand out learning in controlled, measured doses – we, the people, might get too smart. They would no longer choose what we learn – we, the people, could learn about things we didn’t like and work to change them. They would no longer tell us where we could learn – how in the world would they measure and compare us? They would no longer say why we learn what we learn – imagine if we studied about subjects and vocations that satisfy our own inner needs, instead of subjects far removed from our daily lives, and chosen by people who don’t know us or anything about us. The education business would no longer prescribe how we learn – the book  learned,  card-carrying,  professional  teachers  would  have  to  make room for the community member who has practiced his skill, perhaps for decades, and shares his wisdom with anyone interested enough to find out about it. Schoolmen would no longer dictate, down to the very month and year, when someone should learn, say multiplication – it would be up to us to acquire skills when we found them necessary to our lives.

Are we capable of making these decisions? Of course. Do we believe we are capable of making these decisions? Sadly, I don’t think the majority of us do. Our thirteen plus years in school taught us only too well that others should lead, that we should wait until we’re told when, why and how it’s important to know something. Schools and their peculiar brand of training are vital to our economy, not to us as thinking individuals. Knowledge and real learning – a truly educated populace – would send shock waves through everything politics controls.

The need to rebuild public education is obvious. But all the talk about school choice and longer days and teacher competency tests and Head Start for newborns (and yes, ever more money!) is like patching the bricks with Elmer’s glue while we ignore the roof falling on our heads. All of these “patches,” no matter how noble they sound, no matter how deeply we reach into our pockets, fail to reach the heart of the problem.

I want you to ponder, long and hard, a point I trust will shock you, anger you, horrify you, and/or awaken you enough to move beyond passively reading this book to actively carrying out your important role in reclaiming yourself, your children, and your community:

The public school system in this country is based on a false definition of education. Its path leads us to false goals. At the same time, the public school system does not follow the true meaning of education. Therefore, we are not educating our children at all. We are conditioning them.

The Art of Education This series is adapted from The Art of Education: Reclaiming Your Family, Community and Self by Linda Dobson. The classic homeschooling book is now available in e-Book format at the link for just $4.99.

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