Is education a human right or human nature?
This question gets at the heart of what we are asking here at the Co-op? Are we educating children and adults or are we instead taking part in a “essential gesture of human existence” as Theodore Roszak states in his timely (written in 1977, but just as relevant today, if not more so) book Person/Planet: The Creative Disintegration of Industrial Society. (Read for free on Google Books)
What happens when we remove the idea that education is done to us and instead look at education as a state of being, how does that change the make up of our practice of teaching. Test scores and seating arrangement become less important if we see education as sharing of the “daily progress of our lives as we move through the adventure of experience, selecting, rejecting, shaping the moments into some workable meaning” (Roszak pg. 192).
Education and schools are not just for “the special population of learners called ‘the young’,” (pg. 192). We can’t just talk about education happening in schools and to children. We need to change the discussion to education and living as a whole because “education is for everybody, anywhere, and for a lifetime.”
If we begin to talk about education as a life process, as a natural part of human nature then we begin to move beyond the narrow standardized ideas of the industrial model and reach towards a education where people matter not as numbers, but as unique humans who are on the path of life that leads to learning and growth. We can, as teachers, friends or parents, choose adventures and experience that will help them down that path, but we are also mindful that it their path, not ours. These paths will be challenging and at times academically rigorous, but they will also have times of silence and reflection; artistic and creative output; and both individual and cooperative learning. They will balance the needs of the whole person, not just the mind, but also the physical body and the spiritual or emotional self.
It is a path that looks at life as a holistic journey-not a linear time line, but more web like, where the paths of life intersect at different points and times, branching out to new and unique journeys. It is in this web that true learning happens, and yet the system of education is designed as if education stops at a certain age and life begins after that. As if a student’s potential for learning occurs only at one time and one place, and if it doesn’t happen then, it will never happen.
Is this true, or is it not just one of the “worst tyrannies of (our) system”?
We need to reshape our discussions to include the more holistic ideas of learning and life. We need to talk about a true system of education that would support a life that gives us all the “freedom to experiment, to fail, to turn back, to begin again-if necessary, to start a second career, to launch a new life.”
How do you think we can move away from discussion of test scores and data and instead start to talk about the people involved in the learning? How do we have a pragmatic, action-oriented discussion about education as a “Essential gesture of Human Existence”?