Monday, 18 October 2010

The Real Education Revolution

Ask most Australians about the dilemmas they are facing with regards to their children’s education and you will probably get their position on private vs. state schooling. Ask our Prime Minister the same question and you’ll probably get lots of hot air revolving around some mystical education revolution, words with less substance than a bone that was just treated by a pack of hounds.
It is exactly because of this limited public discussion on our education system that I am worried. I am worried because I recall my own days in school: the more great books I read, the more I despise the boring unreadable stuff we were forced to study at school; the more exposure I have to the works of great scientists the more stomach pain I get at memories of dreadful math and incoherent physics lessons. I recall the dread I felt before every test; I remember the lengths I went to in order to ensure I pass them. Grades, NAPLAN tests, VCEs: When I look back at my school days what I see is a manufacturing line producing subordination and conformism, in the process taking away all the natural curiosity and sense of wonder I came equipped with as a child. It took me years to reacquire some of that lost magical touch.
If you were to ask me what the dilemmas I am facing with regards to the education of my child are, my answer to you is that I am very hesitant to expose him to our schooling system, period. What crime did he commit that I should strive to have any sense of independent spirit smashed out of him with sledgehammer like subtlety? Why should he be inflicted to the same suffering I had to endure?
The Julia Gillard of this world, elected and paid by us to serve us, should take notes when designing their “education revolution”. Start with this video as an example for what education should really be about:

4 comments:

Sarah said...

Don't forget you have educational options beyond state vs. traditional private schools. There are Montessori schools and Steiner schools. There is Preshil which prides itself on students that "enjoy a love of learning, have a social conscience, and have a firm belief in themselves". Google "alternative education/schools/theories and Melbourne or community schools" and check out the range of options.

Moshe Reuveni said...

I doubt we would be able to afford these forms of schooling, but I will look into them.
Cost aside, they have other issues: I remember how one of my pains in high school was to do with being far away from my school friends (it was a school like Melbourne Grammar, a selective school where people from a large area converged). I suspect this was the seed for making me quite the antisocial person I now am...

Don't get me wrong, though: I really appreciate your inputs. I'm really curious about these things, but at the end of the day I'm quite a chicken.

Moshe Reuveni said...

OK:
I had a look and the info you've provided over the web, and it's all very interesting - thanks!
I would very much like to hear what you have to say about these approaches as a professional who seems to understand my concerns. I suspect we'd have to reserve such discussions to the next time we meet in person; there's that much that can be properly communicated through a keyboard.

I will be honest and say I doubt anything special would come out of me checking these things out, for reasons I have already mentioned:
1. Cost
2. Geographical distance
3. Non conformism is scary.
Therefore, I suspect such things are only going to be seriously discussed if Dylan is identified to have some learning challenges that normal schools cannot cater for.

I also want to add that my concern is not restricted to my son, but rather to society in general: I do not want to live in a world of conditioned automatons. I would, instead, like to live in a country where secular public education is the only mainstream option and where this public education system is focused on the needs of the child rather than 19th century dogmas.

Moshe Reuveni said...

Here's a fine example for a true to life manifestation of what I see as the proper way to educate children:
http://bit.ly/b0qQMv
(the link leads to a Cory Doctorow article in The Guardian)