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The Emergence of Compulsory Schooling and Anarchist Resistance | The Anarchist Library
"It is a philosophically Platonic, Prussian-inspired compulsory school system that exists today, not only in North America, but one that is being rapidly becoming globalized in form, function and content.

The emergence of universal schooling was necessarily tied to the health and hegemony of the modern State: the two are intricately linked. Thus, the most articulate and powerful opposition to schooling has always come from anarchists, three of whom I want to mention briefly here; William Godwin, Leo Tolstoy and Francisco Ferrer.

Godwin is frequently recognized as the first anarchist philosopher, with the publication of Enquiry Concerning Political Justice (1793) the first articulated refutation of the State, and his 1797 book, The Enquirer the first published rejection of national schooling. He had tried to open a school in 1783 and when it failed, turned to writing. Godwin believed that compulsory schooling would become an immensely malleable instrument in the hands of government to manipulate and effect public opinion for their own uses.
Before we put so powerful a machine under the direction of so ambiguous an agent, it behooves us to consider well what it is that we do. Government will not fail to employ it, to strengthen its hands, and perpetuate its institutions.[10]

Godwin’s position was that genuine education should directed towards the veneration and pursuit of truth and justice, but that national schooling would always subordinate those goals to their larger political interests.

Had the scheme of a national education been adopted when despotism was most triumphant, it is not to be believed that it could have for ever stifled the voice of truth. But it would have been the most formidable and profound contrivance for that purpose, that imagination can suggest. [11]

Thus schools were mere tools, and critically influential tools, built for the maintenance and proliferation of State ideologies and patriotism. Godwin’s position was particularly interesting because he was married to Mary Wollstonecraft, the writer and feminist, who was a vocal advocate for compulsory schooling, arguing that it would be the best means for inculcating an ethic of equality and allowing equal access for men and women.[12]

Leo Tolstoy, Christian anarchist and celebrated novelist, on the other hand, was more interested in children than writing about them. He established a school for peasant children on his estate, called, like journal he founded exploring his thinking about schools and children, Yasnaya Polyana. Significantly, Tolstoy differentiated between education and culture in a way that I consider striking and still relevant. He wrote that
Education is the tendency of one man to make another just like himself... Education is culture under restraint, culture is free. [Education is] when the teaching is forced upon the pupil, and when then instruction is exclusive, that is when only those subjects are taught which the educator regards as necessary.[13]

Tolstoy’s school was centered around the idea of free inquiry and foreshadowed Summerhill[14] in many ways. He held that since teaching and instruction were only means culture transmission when they were free, students should be left to learn what they wanted to learn, directing both themselves and the kinds of classes they wanted taught. Without compulsion, education was transformed into culture.[15] Tolstoy was less concerned with state schooling (although he opposed it) and more interested in anarchist pedagogy.

Like Tolstoy, Francisco Ferrer was an active anarchist when he opened his school, the Modern School, in Spain in the 1901. Ferrer was most interested in creating an institution where children could be free of dogmatic ideological interests and could develop in an atmosphere not intended to forge good citizens, religious individuals or even inculcate strong morals. “Since we are not educating for a specific purpose, we cannot determine the capacity or incapacity of the child”[16]

Ferrer was intent upon loosing schools from both hegemonic teaching and State control. At the turn of the 20th Century it was becoming evident that no only were schools forging citizens but industrial workers, and that government control was essential to their nature.
They know, better than anyone else that their power is based almost entirely on the school. ... [They want schools] not because they hope for the revolution of society through education, but because they need individuals, workmen, perfected instruments of labor to make their industrial enterprises and the capital employed in them profitable... [They] have never wanted the uplift of the individual, but his enslavement; and it is perfectly useless to hope for anything but the school of to-day.[17]

Much like Godwin, Ferrer regarded schools as powerful governmental tools, made all the more dominant by their compulsory nature. After developing his school, sparking the rise of the Modern School movement[18], starting the International League for the Rational Education of Children as well as a journal L’Ecole Renovee, Ferrer was executed in Spain in 1909 for plotting an insurrection.

These three were hardly on their own, there were many who resisted compulsory schooling right from its first proposal, from various political stances and rationales, some laudable some reprehensible, all over Europe and America. The point in highlighting Godwin, Tolstoy and Ferrer is to make clear that resistance to compulsory schooling is also at heart resistance to centralized control. In that, alternatives of all kind are built on ideals of self-reliance, community control of resources, and the idea that democracy has to be local."
matthern  education  schooling  schools  anarchism  anarchy  2003  plato  rousseau  voltaire  condorcet  diderot  louis-renedelachalotais  history  prussia  horacemann  williamgodwin  tolstoy  franciscoferrer  unschooling  deschooling 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Friends of the Modern School
"Between 1910 and 1960 a remarkable educational experiment took place in the United States under the aegis of the anarchist movement. For half a century anarchists from New York to Los Angeles carried on a venture in learning that was unique in American history. Inspired by the execution of Francisco Ferrer, the Spanish educator and martyr, more than twenty schools were established in different parts of the country where children might study in an atmosphere of freedom and self-reliance, in contrast to the formality and discipline of the traditional classroom.

These Modern Schools, as they were called, differed from other educational experiments of the same period in being schools for children of workers and directed by the workers themselves. Their founders, moreover, were anarchists, whose prophets were Bakunin, Kropotkin, and Tolstoy as well as Rousseau, Pestalozzi, and Froebel, and who sought to abolish all forms of authority, political and economic as well as educational, and to usher in a new society based on the voluntary cooperation of free individuals."
modernschools  modernschoolmovement  anarchism  tolstoy  rousseau  froebel  franciscoferrer  nyc  losangeles  education  history  schools  us  lcproject  openstudioproject  freedom  mikhailbakunin  pestalozzi  emmagoldman  willdurant  alexanderberkman  alexisferm  elizabethferm  peterkropotkin  friedrichfroebel 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Louis C.K. Was Almost Right About Smartphones, Loneliness, Sadness, the Meaning of Life, and Everything | The Frailest Thing
"“I think these things are toxic, especially for kids …” That’s Louis C.K. talking about smartphones on Conan O’Brien last week. You’ve probably already seen the clip; it exploded online the next day. In the off-chance that you’ve not seen the clip yet, here it is. It’s just under five minutes, and it’s worth considering.

Let me tell you, briefly, what I appreciated about this bit, and then I’ll offer a modest refinement to Louis C.K.’s perspective.

Here are the two key insights I took away from the exchange. First, the whole thing about empathy. Cyberbullying is a big deal, at least it’s one of the realities of online experience that gets a lot of press. And before cyberbullying was a thing we worried about, we complained about the obnoxious and vile manner in which individuals spoke to one another on blogs and online forums. The anonymity of online discourse took a lot of the blame for all of this. A cryptic username, after all, allowed people to act badly with impunity.

I’m sure anonymity was a factor. That people are more likely too act badly when they can’t be caught is an insight at least as old as Plato’s ring of Gyges illustration. But, insofar as this kind of behavior has survived the personalization of the Internet experience, it would seem that the blame cannot be fixed entirely on anonymity.

This is where Louis C.K. offers us a slightly different, and I think better, angle that fills the picture out a bit. He frames the problem as a matter of embodiment. Obviously, people can be cruel to one another in each other’s presence. It happens all the time. The question is whether or not there is something about online experience that somehow heightens the propensity toward cruelty, meanness, rudeness, etc. Here’s how I would answer that question: It’s not that there is something intrinsic to the online experience that heightens the propensity to be cruel. It’s that the online experience unfolds in the absence of a considerable mitigating condition: embodied presence.

In Graham Greene’s The Power and the Glory, his unnamed protagonist, the whiskey priest, comes to the following realization: “When you visualized a man or woman carefully, you could always begin to feel pity … that was a quality God’s image carried with it … when you saw the lines at the corners of the eyes, the shape of the mouth, how the hair grew, it was impossible to hate.”

This is, I think, what Louis C.K. is getting at. We like to think of ourselves as rational actors who make our way through life by careful reasoning and logic. For better or for worse, this is almost certainly not the case. We constantly rely on all sorts of pre-cognitive or non-conscious or visceral operations. Most of these are grounded in our bodies and their perceptual equipment. When our bodies, and those magical mirror-neurons, are taken out of play, then the perceptual equipment that helps us act with a measure of empathy is also out of the picture, and then, it seems, cruelty proceeds with one less impediment.

The second insight I appreciated centered on the themes of loneliness and sadness. What Louis C.K. seems to be saying, in a way that still manages to be funny enough to bear, is that there’s something unavoidably sad about life and at the core of our being there is a profound emptiness. What’s more, it is when we are alone that we feel this sadness and recognize this emptiness. This is inextricably linked to what we might call the human condition, and the path to any kind of meaningful happiness is through this sadness and the loneliness that brings it on.



But the smartphone is not altogether irrelevant. It is part of a practice that is itself a manifestation of the problem. The problem is not the smartphone, it’s this thing we’re doing with the smartphone, which, in the past, we have also done with countless other things."
louisck  michaelsacasas  via:tealtan  2013  culture  digital  internet  behavior  empathy  commenting  alanjacobs  anonymity  blaisepascal  grahamgreene  cyberbullying  loneliness  sadness  humancondition  humans  human  happiness  web  online  meanness  rudeness  cruelty  smartphones  tolstoy  lmsacasas 
november 2013 by robertogreco
This Isn’t Franzen’s World Anymore | Hazlitt | Random House of Canada
"The real issue, it seems, is the declining moral and critical standing of the novelist. We don’t believe what Franzen and Eggers tell us about the world. Even if we enjoy their novels, they haven’t earned the moral and critical authority to translate their judgments to nonfiction, or even for us to respect their vision. They don’t just seem nostalgic for a time before social media took over our popular discourse—they’re nostalgic for a time when the novelist was, or at least was capable of being, at the center of that discourse.

The gap today is really between people who still want to assign literary novelists that role and people for whom only nonfiction will do the job. Emile Zola wrote “J’accuse!”, his great letter intervening in fin-de-siècle France’s notorious Dreyfuss Affair, with a moral authority that frankly seems impossible today. When the Kennedy administration wanted to improve racial relations, attorney general Robert F. Kennedy met with James Baldwin (along with Harry Belafonte, Lorraine Hansberry, Lena Horne, and a smattering of civil rights leaders); it was the public failure of that meeting that led directly to both President Kennedy’s address supporting new civil rights legislation and that August’s March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

What do we do in a world where Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg has more moral authority than a popular-critical novelist like Franzen or Eggers? Is it possible for any novelist to have Tolstoy‘s or Baldwin’s or even David Foster Wallace’s authority today? Consider Franzen:
In my own little corner of the world, which is to say American fiction, Jeff Bezos of Amazon may not be the antichrist, but he surely looks like one of the four horsemen. Amazon wants a world in which books are either self-published or published by Amazon itself, with readers dependent on Amazon reviews in choosing books, and with authors responsible for their own promotion. The work of yakkers and tweeters and braggers, and of people with the money to pay somebody to churn out hundreds of five-star reviews for them, will flourish in that world. But what happens to the people who became writers because yakking and tweeting and bragging felt to them like intolerably shallow forms of social engagement? What happens to the people who want to communicate in depth, individual to individual, in the quiet and permanence of the printed word, and who were shaped by their love of writers who wrote when publication still assured some kind of quality control and literary reputations were more than a matter of self-promotional decibel levels?


With social media, we are at no shortage of opinions, diagnoses, and feelings about our world, its apocalyptic implications, and our future place in it. And it increasingly feels as though a writer like Franzen is talking about a much narrower place. Instead of facts, instead of expertise, he is giving us “the quiet and permanence of the printed word,” a media artifact that is not endangered, but is no longer central.

Franzen is no longer central, if he ever was. He cannot be Tolstoy. He cannot be Baldwin. He cannot even be David Foster Wallace. And if those authors were with us today, what guarantee would there be that the role they occupied would command the same respect, let alone exist? That time is ending, and Franzen knows it."
2013  timcarmody  jonathanfranzen  daveeggers  internet  fiction  literature  writing  expertise  tolstoy  experience  nonfiction 
october 2013 by robertogreco
La Educación Prohibida | Un proyecto audiovisual para transformar la educación…
"La Educación Prohibida es una película documental que se propone cuestionar las lógicas de la escolarización moderna y la forma de entender la educación, visibilizando experiencias educativas diferentes, no convencionales que plantean la necesidad de un nuevo paradigma educativo.

La Educación Prohibida es un proyecto realizado por jóvenes que partieron desde la visión del quienes aprenden y se embarcaron en una investigación que cubre 8 países realizando entrevistas a más de 90 educadores de propuestas educativas alternativas. La película fue financiada colectivamente gracias a cientos de coproductores y tiene licencias libres que permiten y alientan su copia y reproducción.

La Educación Prohibida se propone alimentar y disparar un debate reflexión social acerca de las bases que sostienen la escuela, promoviendo el desarrollo de una educación integral centrada en el amor, el respeto, la libertad y el aprendizaje."

[Direct link to video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-1Y9OqSJKCc ]
tolstoy  democratic  democraticschools  freeschools  escuelaactiva  sudburyschools  sudbury  2012  asneill  summerhill  españa  perú  español  prussia  schooliness  montessori  waldorf  rudolfsteiner  johntaylorgatto  williamkilpatrick  rosaagazzi  agazzisisters  johannheinrichpestalozzi  olvidedecroly  célestinfreinet  olgacossettini  emmipikler  reggioemilia  mariamontessori  ivanillich  paulofreire  schooling  history  schools  parenting  learning  education  progressive  deschooling  unschooling  colombia  ecuador  uruguay  argentina  chile  laeducaciónprohibida  spain 
august 2012 by robertogreco
The Believer Logger — INTERVIEWER On various occasions, especially in...
"…you’ve spoken about dispensing with the old accessories such as plot & characters. But are those old accessories so useless as that; are there no truths to be reached with them?

NATHALIE SARRAUTE: One reaches certain truths, but truths that are already known. At a level that’s already known. One can describe the Soviet reality in Tolstoy’s manner, but one will never manage to penetrate it further than Tolstoy did with the aristocratic society that he described. It will remain at the same level of the psyche as Anna Karenina or Prince Bolkonsky if you use the form that Tolstoy used. If you employ the form of Dostoyevsky, you will arrive at another level, which will always be Dostoyevsky’s level, whatever the society you describe. That’s my idea. If you want to penetrate further, you must abandon both of them and go look for something else. Form and content are the same thing. If you take a certain form, you attain a certain content with that form, not any other."
thebeliever  interviews  characters  plot  writing  literature  truth  content  form  society  princebolkonsky  annakarenina  dostoyevsky  tolstoy  nathaliesarraute 
may 2012 by robertogreco
7 Obscure Children's Books by Authors of Adult Literature | Brain Pickings
1. The Cat and the Devil, by James Joyce
2. Advice to Little Girls, by Mark Twain
3. The Widow and the Parrot, by Virginia Wolf
4. Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, T.S. Eliot
5. Maurice, or The Fisher's Cot, by Mary Shelley
6. Classic Tales and Fables for Children, by Leo Tolstoy
7. The Happy Prince and Other Tales, by Oscar Wilde

[Another list here: http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2011/07/25/childrens-books-by-adult-authors-2/ ]
books  children  classideas  jamesjoyce  marktwain  tolstoy  oscarwilde  virginiawoolf  maryshelley  tseliot 
july 2011 by robertogreco
The Stelton Modern School: A Brief History of Fransisco Ferrer
"The concepts of rational education did not grow out of a vacuum. [explained]  … The ideals of free education begin in response to the ideals of classical education that were particularly prevalent at that time.  The first part of the free education system begins with the belief that imitation and repetition perverted or inhibited the natural development of the pupil.  The learning of new skills, both simple and complex should instead be done in a natural fashion.  In contrast to the development of ivory tower scholarship, the proponents of rational education believed in knowledge derived from both experience of, and interaction with the world - "learning by doing.""
education  history  anarchism  anarchy  freeschools  learningbydoing  lcproject  progressive  teaching  learning  pedagogy  franciscoferrer  peterkropotkin  schools  escuelamoderna  modernschools  interaction  experientiallearning  mikhailbakunin  trinidadsoriano  paulrobins  tolstoy  rousseau  frederichfroebel  steltonmodernschool 
february 2011 by robertogreco
Paris Review - The Art of Fiction No. 120, Mario Vargas Llosa ["I realized then that we [Latin Americans] have extremely interesting writers—the novelists perhaps less so than the essayists or poets.…]
"…Sarmiento, for example, who never wrote a novel, is in my opinion one of the greatest storytellers Latin America has produced; his Facundo is a masterwork. But if I were forced to choose one name, I would have to say Borges, because the world he creates seems to me to be absolutely original. Aside from his enormous originality, he is also endowed with a tremendous imagination and culture that are expressly his own. And then of course there is the language of Borges, which in a sense broke with our tradition and opened a new one. Spanish is a language that tends toward exuberance, proliferation, profusion. Our great writers have all been prolix, from Cervantes to Ortega y Gasset, Valle-Inclán, or Alfonso Reyes. Borges is the opposite—all concision, economy, and precision. He is the only writer in the Spanish language who has almost as many ideas as he has words. He’s one of the great writers of our time." [That's just a snip. There's lots more inside.]
mariovargasllosa  latinamerica  literature  borges  sarmiento  facundo  interviews  fscottfitzgerald  dospassos  writing  reading  perú  victorhugo  floratristan  guimarãesrosa  sartre  dostoyevsky  balzac  flaubert  tolstoy  nathanielhawthorne  charlesdickens  hermanmelville  gabrielgarcíamárquez  gabo  cervantes  spain  spanish  español  language  history  politics  ideology  happiness  unhappiness  parisreview  depression  josélezamalima  hemingway  joãoguimarãesrosa  españa  williamfaulkner  jean-paulsartre 
october 2010 by robertogreco
Open Education, Personal Learning and National Policies | FLOSSE Posse
"With these action we have a chance to maintain the happy family we have been for a long time. Right now it looks that we may loose it.

“All happy families resemble one another, each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” – Leo Tolstoy

I was last weekend in Copenhagen. I learned a lot about many things. I have been many times in Copenhagen but only now realized that it is a happy family.

With the Tolstoy’s thought in mind I am now really interested in to study “happy families”. Whatever you consider your “family” to be a modern nuclear family, commune, neighborhood, language or racial group or an online community they resemble one another. They are mutually supportive and empathic."
tolstoy  teemuleinonen  happiness  policy  community  communities  tcsnmy  amsterdam  finland  openeducation  empathy  socialsafetynet  education  freedom  deschooling  capitalism  socialism  well-being  learning 
september 2010 by robertogreco
Jonathan Harris . Oct 21, 2009 [Sisters, OR]
"Sometimes I think about moving to a new town. I mean, leaving behind my old life and opening up shop in some new place, if not for the rest of my life then at least for a long time and in earnest. Big cities make this daydream easier to imagine and small towns harder — because, just as all happy families are alike but every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way, Tolstoy might agree that all big cities are alike, but every small town is strange in its own way. … I wondered what it would be like to move here, for the people in that coffee shop suddenly to become my friends, my potential future spouses, my future kids' teachers, my drinking buddies, my neighbors. Until you commit to a place, you can inhabit the anonymous nether-regions of ghostliness, floating into and out of coffee shops and communities without any compulsion to talk, tell stories, charm, make nice, or make friends. … I wonder how you finally learn to settle, and what that takes."
jonathanharris  place  sisters  oregon  smalltowns  cities  tolstoy  belonging  families  urban  urbanism  cv  glvo  meaning  strangers 
august 2010 by robertogreco
Blogging died in 1882 « Learn Online
"We were all then convinced that it was necessary for us to speak, write, and print as quickly as possible and as much as possible, and that it was all wanted for the good of humanity. And thousands of us, contradicting and abusing one another, all printed and wrote - teaching others. And without noticing that we knew nothing, and that to the simplest of life’s questions: What is good and what is evil? we did not know how to reply, we all talked at the same time, not listening to one another, sometimes seconding and praising one another in order to be seconded and praised in turn, sometimes getting angry with one another - just as in a lunatic asylum." - Leo Tolstoy: A Confession. 1882

[pair with: http://radar.oreilly.com/2006/10/homophily-in-social-software.html ]
tolstoy  quotes  blogging  echochambers  forums  socialmedia  slow  conversation  discussion  1882  listening  philosophy  writing  wisdom 
january 2009 by robertogreco

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