Democracy or Oligarchy? The Role of Education in the Choice
(Mike DePung — Post II.124–17)
Education should be true to the word from which it has been formed. The word indicates to lead forth. Education concerns leading forth from the child that with which each one arrives here on planet Earth. Without knowing what a child’s natural interests and passions are, it cannot possibly be educated in a manner that has the best interest in mind.
And if education does not have the best interest of the individual in mind, then it is an informal conspiracy meant to manipulate and brainwash kids for others’ purposes.
When we force students from day one to do things for which they can see no rationale except adults are bigger and stronger than them, we are not educating.
When everything is prescribed — the day is planned minute by minute, the textbooks are printed, the tests are copied, the averages are known, and the grade scales are set — then, the philosophy is, in essence, “Do it this way because that is what is expected of you.” All the add-ons, the cutesy projects, class votes, inviting students to be on a committee — all of that stuff is relatively meaningless. The belief is that a set, prescribed curriculum by some very few people will communicate — what? Society expectations? Business goals? College standards? It really doesn’t matter because students have no part in any of that, and if they don’t, none of it is valid.
Humans, any human, young or old, knows how to learn, how to collect knowledge, make personal connections, and create new knowledge resulting from that. This is education, and it is natural. Formal education helps discoverers delve into specifics and organize the efforts.
In my redefinition of and revolution in education, students should design their own curriculum. Many educators aren’t equipped to know how to assist in that because it puts educators in the uncomfortable position of not having everything prescribed, preset. It’s relatively easy to appear to be the all-knowing oracle when you already have everything written down — or the teacher textbook. It’s not so easy to be a real coach or teacher when you are thinking, working together in an emergent curriculum. Implications? Teacher training, education needs to change. Teachers need to experience education the way they should employ it with students. (I know it can be done because my master’s program did it.)
How? On the most basic level, it’s a matter of spiritual awakening. No, that can’t be boxed off. We are complete beings, holistic, and something as fundamental as education cannot leave out any factor. We don’t have an education section of the brain, a religious section, or any other compartmentalized ones; just like education, it’s all connected.
No one will know where passions that develop into even academic pursuits lie until they know themselves. No, this cannot be taught; it can, however, be encouraged indirectly, as it should be, by simply not creating a subculture of conformity, which is what “school” becomes. Individuality, valuing of diversity, thinking for oneself, identifying and engaging in interests — all these and more open us to Heart operating within us.
Education starts there, and that has to do directly with school environment and culture and nothing to do with desks in straight lines, the same books to each student, the same assignments at the same time, the same tests — or any tests for that matter.
As students progress, so do the depths of their interests, which necessitates increasing collection of knowledge. It works. While I struggled to maintain this philosophy in a standard classroom, many other schools exist employing this sort of philosophy. One of the most advanced and functional organizations is the Big Picture Schools.
The details of this model of education which is antithetical to mainstream practices today, not to mention one that should shame the current federal Department of Education, from here on out would become very individual. I have worked it in the classroom over many years. I have led teacher study groups based on democratic principles. I know it impacts lives, and the experience I gave students helped some to know they have a Heart to which they can respond.
Educating young people based on the reality of our composition as human beings holds the only hope I know of if we in democratic nations are to avoid falling prey to lying leaders who are gradually transforming freedom into forced servitude, without the slaves even knowing they are such. That’s scary, but it’s happening as of today. I know my truth, so the bastards in government can lie through their pearly whites while they smile — “O villain, villain, smiling, damnéd villain. That one may smile, and smile, and be a villain…” (Hamlet) — and I will go on creating according to my truth, exposing the likes of them, encouraging young people and educators in democratic models of edcuation.
I’m not suggesting a gradual trial here. I’m saying an immediate revolution may be the only thing that can save liberty in the sense we desire, at least I desire: that everyone in their own way may engage in “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” without prejudice and with joy and protections of government for our basic rights. The current drift is not this way at all, not when rights are being sacrificed for business, profits, money, power, wealth.
No matter what socioeconomic level people find themselves in, their rights are no different. It includes rights to live in natural environments, which means environmental protections are in place, too. It means rights of minorities and subcultures are protected, as long as they do not involve destruction of others’ basic rights.
Yes, a revolution that employs the redefinition of education beginning with the most basic level of curriculum designed by each student for themselves, which by nature encourages and engenders discovery of Self and all the wonders of the Universe. Our hardwiring as social creatures will take care of the organization and interactions, and the facilitation of all of this will be in the hands of well-trained educators. I can tell you from experience, the professionalism called for in this redefinition of education requires hard work, damn hard work. But it is so worth it.
Blessings as you, no matter what stage of life you are in, consider these things. You say you care about democracy and freedom? The way things are now lead straight to acceptance of an oligarchy without us even being aware, and it’s been conditioned through the school system. It’s time to revolt, time to awaken to Self.