Thoughts on Thinking

"When somebody persuades me that I am wrong, I change my mind. What do you do?" John Maynard Keynes

"If you're unhappy with your life, change your thinking." Charles Fillmore

"The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it." Eckhart Tolle

"People are not disturbed by things, but by the view they take of them." Epictetus

"The unexamined life is not worth living." Socrates

"Consciousness is a terrible thing to waste." PunditGeorge

Friday, August 08, 2014

Polarity Goes to School

I’ve been thinking and writing about polarity of late which means, of course, that I will find a lot of it.  Polarity, the presence or manifestation of two opposite  principles or tendencies, is similar to a dichotomy - a difference between two opposite things.  The point is that everything has two expressions and an infinite scale of points between the opposite expressions.  Love and hate are the same emotion but have an infinite number of degrees.  That’s the way the universe is constructed.

So, it’s not a total surprise to come across in the space of two days, two dramatically different expressions of education.

First, was an intriguing feature by Ben Hewitt titled “WeDon’t Need NO Education” appearing in the September 2014 issue of Outside Magazine.  As capsuled on line:  We Don't Need No Education.  Thanks but no thanks, say Ben Hewitt and a growing movement of unschoolers. Dissatisfied with classrooms that leave kids staring out the window all day, they want to set our little learners free. PLUS: How to rewild your child.

Unschoolers?  Rewild?  Hewitt chronicles how he and his wife approach the education of their two sons.  Not home-schooled.  “Perhaps the best way to explain it is that all unschooling  is homeschooling, but not all homeschooling is unschooling.”  I get that.  Unschooling’s guiding philosophy is that school, especially traditional schooling, diminishes the natural love of learning inherent in all children.  Traditional schooling stifles a child’s natural curiosity about everything.

Cited in the article is psychologist and author Peter Grey:  “Children are forced to attend school where they are stripped of their’s like locking a child in a closet.”  The Boston College professor contends “What kids need exploration and play without supervision.  It is this that allows them to develop self-determination and confidence.”

Granted, the Hewitt lads romp freely on their northern Vermont farm, an environment not available to every child, but the thinking holds.  “This is what I want for my sons:  freedom.  Not just physical freedom, but intellectual and emotional freedom from the formulaic learning that prevails in our schools.”

Ouch.  Formulaic learning that prevails in our schools.

Michelle Malkin pounced on that, big time, in her August 8, 2014 column:  Readin’Writin’and Social Justice Agitatin’.  Watchdog for creeping statism, her lead paragraph wastes nothing:  It’s back-to-school season across the country. But in an increasing number of districts, “back to school” doesn’t mean back to learning. Under the reign of social justice indoctrinators, academics are secondary to political agitation. Activism trumps achievement.

In her usual way, she documents several schools where “social justice” guides the curriculum.  For instance:  At the Paulo Freire Social Justice Charter School, also in Massachusetts, students won’t learn math. They’ll be taught “social justice math.” (Freire was a Brazilian leftist who wrote a social justice teacher’s Bible called “Pedagogy of the Oppressed.”) His acolytes explain the push for radicalization of math: “Math is an instrument for detailing social justice issues and developing critical consciousness.” In the hands of progressive teachers, math “becomes an analytic tool to bring awareness to important world issues.” In other words: One plus one equals “That’s unfair!”

There are schools and homeschoolers all over the scale between these two approaches.  The question is which one would you want for your child?  Or, wish you had when you had to “go to school?”   Trust the state or trust the instinct for learning?

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