Thursday, 10 September 2009

Why School Damages Children by Imran

Another post by Imran which he has kindly given me permission to blog.
A permission I requested so that his  thoughtful and informed ideas can be available in the public domain.

From a post to a home ed support list. 

Hi New Person, and also to ___
Thank you for saying what you said about school, and challenging us for
our anti-school bias. Given the anti-school bias that you pointed to in
this forum, I acknowledge your stand for something different, for
presenting an opposing point of view.
Having said that, I disagree with your point of view; I believe that
school damages children. The only instance when it can be a salvation
is when home life is so distressing that going to school is a relief. I
maintain that most children are damaged by schooling. The problem is
that this "damage" has become normative, and that there are no controls.
Last point first. I had a good time at school. Wasn't bullied much, did
okay academically, and pretty much enjoyed myself. I don't have another
me who was HE'd at the same time that I can draw comparisons with. This is a
challenge that we all face. How can we be sure that what we are doing as
parents really is the best for our children?
By normative abuse, I mean that school is so part of our culture, that
we don't see, or even stop to consider what are the disadvantages, and
the damage it does. If everyone suffers the same way, then it’s harder to
see the damage because it doesn't stick out. If I use bottle-feeding as
an analogy, I can make my point clearer. A woman bottle feeding in
England, doesn't stick out the way she would in Sweden or among the
Yanonami in the Amazon. A child fed on bottle milk appears to be
thriving. What's not apparent is how the health of the colon is
compromised, or the immune system is compromised. So it is with a child
that appears to be happy and doing well at school. What's not apparent
is the internal, intrinsic compromises; internal processes that don't
develop to their full potential. This doesn't get noticed because
everyone else's processes have been similarly compromised.
Schooling impairs neurological function. The numbers of
connections that each neuron can make to others is reduced, thus the
ability to think divergently (i.e. the ability to have your thoughts go
off in many, many directions) is impaired. Children's social skills are
distorted by being forced to mix with 30 others of the same age, and be
ordered about all day by an adult. This is not the same as learning to get on
with people of all ages, in real life. That after all is our
evolutionary legacy. We are designed to live in multi-generational
communities, learning by imitating and trying and asking. We don't need
to be taught in order to learn. We are born with the ability to think
conceptually, and only need the space to give our thoughts and ideas
If you are not convinced, you could look at the results. Many US states
require all children to sit SATS. HE kids do considerably better than
schooled kids, with those being autonomously educated often doing best
of all. Why is that? Why should those with the least formal HE do better
than those with the most formal of education i.e. schooling? I think it
is because the ability to learn is natural to us as human beings. School
gets in the way. That was after all the way the Prussian aristocracy
designed it. They didn't design "skoles" for the sake of the infant
peasantry. They designed it to instill compliance and obedience, and to
destroy the capacity for independent thought. That played right into
the hands of the industrialists who lobbied their governments to make
school compulsory so that they would have a workforce that would put up
Victorian factory conditions, day after day, without a murmur of
dissent. Schools weren't designed out of concern for the literacy of
children, which goes some way to explain why literacy in the US has
actually declined since the advent of factory schooling. An educated
proletariat is a dangerous proletariat. An educated worker is a
dangerous worker. He is more likely to stand up for his rights, know
what they are, and/or leave to get a better job, with a better wage. It
serves the needs of capital to keep workers dumb.
It was not out of benign concern that the Europeans exported factory
schooling to their little brown subjects in the Americas, and Africa and
Australia and Asia. The British Raj didn't bring schools to India as an
act of charity. Educated Indians would be dangerous...unless of course
you can occupy their time elsewhere, in a school, engaging in
meaningless tasks, learning to be subservient to a foreign Queen,
versus to their own parents and traditions, and their own Gods. This way
you can stop them from really educating themselves; which is why I
believe that Hitler outlawed home education. Too bad if your parents are
Communists, or opposed to the Nazi vision, he wanted to ensure that no
one got to escape the poisonous influence of the Hitler Youth.
So there you have it, school as a tool for advancing the agenda of the
state. That is not the same as being designed to educate our young.
Think about it if you were to design a system for educating children,
would you really design it this way? Would anyone? In this system,
bullying is endemic, and all suffer: those that bully, those that are
bullied, and those that are bullied. In this system a child is lucky if
she gets 10 minutes one to one time with her teacher in a week. In this
system the poet has to endure physics, and the artist has to endure
maths. The kinaesthetic child has to sit still, while his more sedentary
friend is forced to jump. No child gets what they need it when they need
it, as their needs are always subservient to the needs and demands of
the school factory. In this system, the average child will spend over
14,000 hours of her life, when all she needs is 80-100 hours of one to
one time to learn to read as well as you and I, and to cover the entire
school maths curriculum. This system produces people who cannot think
for themselves. I see it in the work I do in the Middle East, training
Indian workers in communication skills. Years of being taught to the
test, of being ordered about and told what to do has altered their
neurons. They have been conditioned not to think, only to please the
teacher, as that is how you ensure you get good grades, or at the very
least escape punishment. They don't think. They shut up and put up,
waiting to be told. Just as Johann Fichte, the Prussian philosopher who
lobbied the Prussian ruling class to institute "skoles” said they
That is an affront to human potential. That is why I disagree with your
point of view. Schools do damage.

Another post by Imran is blogged here.


Anonymous said...

I love his writing. He just bangs out the un-p.c. truths :-)


Maire said...

He is fantastic isn't he.

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