Schools are 'socially toxic'

Last updated 05:00 30/12/2012
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HAPPY AT HOME: Children are simply excited to learn and do so at their own pace in a familiar and safe physical environment.

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About twenty years ago, the Government announced an education shake-up and introduced a new initiative called Tomorrow's Schools in which changes were to be made to accommodate the learning needs of New Zealand's youth.

I became quite excited about this and watched eagerly to see what our country's intelligentsia would come up with. It soon became apparent that things were not going well and since then I have observed a rocky road of increasing dissatisfaction in most areas of the education system.

Why do we have an education system? What is it about the current system that is problematic, and how can it be solved?

Firstly, I didn't enjoy school. I felt it robbed me of an enjoyable childhood. I made some friends but I also made friends outside of the school system so socially, it wasn't necessary.

The worst part about going to school was the threats. The education system was and still is run on threats, as is most of our society. I was forced to be there, forced to interact and forced to digest what was served up in the syllabus. If I didn't obey then I was threatened with punishment and received it on a few occasions. As a little boy I remember telling my mother that I didn't like school so I didn't want to go. She informed me that it was against the law to not go and that she would be put in jail if I didn't. This was very disturbing and effected me emotionally for years after.

I know people who have home-schooled their children but apparently it is not easy to get permission and once obtained the provided syllabus must be strictly adhered to. Why?

I've concluded that the compulsory nature of education is not designed to benefit most of us as individuals but to control us and channel our development in a particular way. That channel is for the benefit of the system itself and a very few people who stand to gain most from the structure in its current form.

There is no way that these few want or will allow the structure to change. The same old problems have become exasperated to the point where schools are rapidly becoming a socially toxic environment.

Fortunately since the creation of the web, alternatives to this obsolete way of doing things are rapidly becoming available. I've seen very young children learn language and math skills via their web devices long before arriving at school age Their enthusiasm to learn is extraordinary. There is no compulsion involved. The children are simply excited to learn and do so at their own pace in a familiar and safe physical environment.

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I believe The New Tomorrow's Schools will be at home and education won't be compulsory. Archives of Knowledge Quests will be available for individuals or groups to explore as they wish and free of charge. All forms of education will be optional and teachers can make themselves available when and if they wish. The authoritarian approach including qualifications will be dropped and education will cease to be something that is done to us but rather something we explore because it interests us.

This idea will need to interface with another changing social phenomenon: The work ethic. How parents spend their time is paramount. Currently, schools have become child-minding institutions while parents are slaves to their jobs to earn income. The whole social structure needs to be re-thought and the way we conduct our lives re-addressed.

Force is no longer a viable long-term solution to education and other social structures. It simply isn't working as is shown by the statistics. Many children are now arriving in to adulthood illiterate. That coupled with record youth suicide rates, child poverty and mental illnesses are all blatant indicators that the system needs to change.


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