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robertogreco : voltaire   3

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
More on Postmodernity and the Long Reach of the Past | The American Conservative
"What we call “postmodern” is, then, intrinsic to modernity itself, as a kind of counter-narrative to the dominant modern one. It’s always there, dissenting from the easy story of human progress and human emancipation. A brilliant and far too little-known book on this subject is Stephen Toulmin’s Cosmopolis: the Hidden Agenda of Modernity.

My larger point is simply that ideas live far longer than we usually think they do, and that our ancestors entertained and even embraced many thoughts that we think peculiarly our own. In general, the past is closer to us than we are likely to realize. Consider this — a story I’ve told before but that’s worth remembering: I’ve met a woman who as a teenager met T. S. Eliot; Eliot’s grandmother, Abigail Adams Eliot, whom he knew as a child in St. Louis, was the great-neice of John Adams, second President of the United States, and remembered him from her childhood; when Adams was a young man in Paris, one night at the theatre he saw Voltaire, who was born in the seventeenth century. Six degrees separate me from Voltaire. What we think of as the distant past is not really so distant, and it influences our current thinking more than we know."
postmodernism  history  atemporality  alanjacobs  2013  stephentoulmin  tseliot  voltaire  time  ideas  abigailadams  johnadams  postmodernity 
october 2013 by robertogreco
March 21, 2011 : The Daily Papert
“Every deep thinker who has looked at our education system, and I think of everyone, from Voltaire, Rousseau, Piaget, Vygostgy, John Dewey, they’ve all focused on one point, that our school is much too focused on information, on getting facts, far to little on doing things, on learning by doing, by action.”
seymourpapert  rousseau  voltaire  piaget  vygostgy  johndewey  rote  rotelearning  facts  factoryschools  learningbydoing  unschooling  constructivism  projectbasedlearning  tcsnmy  lcproject  pbl  jeanpiaget 
march 2011 by robertogreco

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