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 Schooling and such

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Stos
De Leonist


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PostSubject: Schooling and such   Fri Nov 21, 2008 10:39 am

One of our objectives in a socialist revolution should be to shatter the red tape schools that currently prevail. No, they are never good for people, they just kill people off. Of course, the public schooling system in a place like the US is horrible. Here in Singapore, it's like an amplified version. This was written on John Gatto's site on it (by some guy named Ian), and is pretty much correct (though it does get worse):

"Although [John Gatto’s] website centers on the American education system, I believe this system of public schooling has been widely and successfully proliferated around the world. I come from Singapore, …

I am 19 this year and have gone through the local education system [in Singapore] for a horrid 12 years. … The education system in my country is like an amplified version of the U.S. system. Here, the level of regimentation we face is beyond my description. For the sake of convenience I’ll list what I can about the system in point form:

Every student wears a dull, unflattering uniform. (government slogan for this being social integration)

No male student is allowed to color or even keep hair to ear-length. Certain female-schools don’t even allow students to have hair more than 3 centimeters below the ear. (these first two points may seem superficial, but exemplify the level of regimentation)

Schooling is compulsory, one can be arrested for even attempting “home-schooling”.

Every student wakes up between 5 and 6 every morning.

Every student essentially spends his or her entire life dealing with school-related activities. The student is usually in school till about 4 to 6 in the evening (depending on how active the student is).

Students are usually only home by dinner-time, where a small minority can afford the “luxury” of having dinner with their parents.

Time at home, for the average conforming student is spent doing an endless amount of “homework” (which is of course actually work assigned from school).

The homework is assigned in such irrationally large quantities that the average student usually spends till, if on a good day, 11, if not, then past midnight endlessly slogging through what is essentially compulsive memorization of endless chunks of facts. And astoundingly, this applies to students as young as nine or ten as well. (because of the extremity of this, you may be inclined to think it an exaggeration, but I can only give you my word that this is a harsh reality in my country)

Any minute of free time that the student has on weeknights is usually spent watching triviality on television. (not mentioning the insidious effects of television on the mind, I would really appreciate it if anyone could elaborate on this)

Tests and exams are taken to be almost literally a matter of life and death as everyone is conditioned to believe these are the judges of their abilities and therefore their societal worth. This contributes to their already heavy workload from assignments alone, and on the night before a test there will be students who completely forego sleep.

On average, in secondary school (equivalent to “high school” in the U.S.) students face 2 or 3 tests (sometimes amount to 5 or 6) every week, and a major exam at the end of every term (10 weeks). The amount of pressure and stress the student faces with such a schedule is immense and psychologically damaging so much so that it is an official statistic that one third of primary school students (primary school being the equivalent of grades 1 to 6 in the U.S.) require psychological and emotional help.

As startling as the statistic is, even more startling is that no one really blames the government for it. They see the system as an irrevocable, irreplaceable necessity, a fact of social life. They blame it on the students not being equipped to handle the pressures of the modern world.

Despite almost literally our entire lives being spent on “academically related work”, local students, despite learning “english” as a first language generally hardly ever speak with a single grammatically correct sentence. The euphemistic term they adopt for the nationwide linguistic ineptitude is “singlish” [Singapore English] which in my opinion is sinisterly parallel to the term “newspeak” in George Orwell’s 1984. Basically, the standard of english spoken atrociously, narrows and confines their range of thought and discussion to frivolities. There are of course exceptions, but this is the general standard.

These students have memorized and are even able to recite a whole geography or history textbook yet actually learn nothing educational from it. Like robots, the industrious ones literally can recite textbooks word for word, an “ability” which of course suits the nature of the tests and exams we are required to sit for.

When they reach 18 like I have, they are obliged to spend two-and-a-half years in the military, as part of the nationwide conscription for all males. The term they use for this is “national service”, again disguising the actually oppressive nature of what is essentially “forced labor”. I am also inclined to believe that this conscription is implemented more for “socialization” purposes rather than military defense.

Of course, the government can get away with murder here, as people are docile, unable to critically analyze, apolitical, materialistic, mechanical and self-centered, yet nationalistic (which is in effect the instinct to blindly conform to all government policies, because it is “nationalistic” and “patriotic” to make a sacrifice and accept it if the government implements a policy you don’t agree with; this is, by the way, what we are taught in “social studies” in school).

When tourists visit Singapore they tend to have a pleasant impression of it largely because everything is peaceful, serene, and seemingly successful on the outside. But one has only to send one’s child to the education system here to uncover this colossal facade.

All in all, the long-term accumulated effects of this tragic system have far-ranging consequences on the minds and character of people in my country."



I go to a private school (it's slightly better in terms of homework and study (at least, till IB), but generally not at all. Also, we wake up at 6-7 rather than 5-6, it's still stupid). I'm looking to nab the Teenage Liberation Handbook and see about rising out of school, but here it's pretty much illegal. Crud, I doubt even free skools would be legal (there aren't any anyways). So, I'm sure you can understand when I complain about Singaporean society being fucking horrible, because it is, and this is pretty much why. Of course, there are definitely worse places, but at least in the US and such you can homeschool without getting chucked out of the country (see, I need a student card to stay here. We get that by going to our school. Now, if we wanted to go for unschooling, we'd probably not be allowed to even if we were born here, but even if not, we'd have to get a permanent residence card, meaning forced labour at 18. Awesome place, eh, 'libertarians'? Well, it actually used quite a bit of regulation to become as 'successful' as it is now, but people still like to bring it up as a success for 'deregulated' capitalism)
What the hell, I'm already in trouble for disliking the school (yeah, they run it bureacratically, and then we get chucked out if we don't like it. Heh. The excuse? They have many more enthusiastic students on the waiting list. Really, it's just like the army of the unemployed. Nothing changes, it's always the same crap through our whole lives. Steal this post), not doing homework or giving it in pretty late (really, it's mostly incredibly stupid, pointless, and just helps alienate us from what we're learning), and presumably also for organizing a debate in English class on the free school movement. Yeah, I got my group to do that. According to our teacher, only 'intelligent' people would be able to do it. People are intelligent by birth? Woah, what's the point of school at all, then? Heh, I also have to see a counsellor (you never see co-councelling mentioned anywhere, I wonder why? Ah yes, it assumes that human beings are not, as the cappies would have you believe, mostly sheep by nature, and actually takes a positive view of us. We can't have ourselves not being helpless creatures that require bureacratic bullshit, can we?)
Of course, I also support the unschooling movement, but... Yeah. They're pretty much two sides of the same coin, it depends entirely on personal preference in which one you want to do. Neither take in the whole respect for authority (ie. mindless obedience), busywork, grading, exams, boredom, and red tape bullshit. In fact, they would probably complement each other. If an unschooled kid wanted to, he could just pop in to a lesson or course at a free skool, for example, if he were interested in computer systems, he could go to a course on computer systems, and be taught by an expert in the field (it would probably be more rewarding than simply internet lessons).
Quote :
A change that pleases me very much this year was to watch our son Steve (12), who spent four years in public school, and who spent his first year of homeschooling asking for "assignments," become a more self-motivated learner. He became interested in mechanical drawing when I gave him a beginning drafting set and he spends a lot of time designing cars and space ships. He has discovered science fiction and reads Asimov, Bradbury, Heinlein and others with great enjoyment (he has always read a lot, but despises the school-type reading programs where one must answer questions to prove comprehension). We both enrolled in the IBM Systems computer course at the state Vo-Tech school and he thoroughly enjoyed that--the perfect classroom situation, in my opinion, no tests, no grades, just people voluntarily coming to learn about something which they were interested in, from a helpful expert in the field. Since Steve's career goals tend toward the technical at this point, he works real hard at mathematics, and at his request we added the Key Curriculum algebra and geometry series to his regular sixth grade math. He surprised me this year by informing me that he didn't want to take a summer break from his schoolwork!
Ah yes, remember all of the fuss about teens these days reading crappy books or not reading at all? What's the solution? "Force them to read!" Rolling Eyes
Quote :
"Lora only read what she was forced to read when she was in school, and I would sometimes coerce her by reading one chapter out loud to her and then having her read the next to me. All of a sudden, during the summer between school and homeschool, she became an avid reader....I don't know how many books she read that summer, but I was amazed--it was as if now that she didn't have to, and she was free, she wanted to read. She has read over sixty books in each nine months of homeschooling. If we did nothing else these two years, I consider that a major accomplishment."
The masses are stupid sheep. What is the solution? "Let's make them have compulsory schooling, and more exams, and longer school hours!" Fuck you, that's the cause, not the solution.
So then somebody came up and proclaimed that ah people couldn't think for themselves. The solution? "Teach them how to think for themselves and be independent, then set them homework on it so that they don't forget it." That actually happened at our school. Y'know? The lessons on how to think for myself were never much use anyways. It was artificial, and it was stupid. Basically, we saw a movie on Fox News. "Wow, Fox News is evil!" "Wait, the movie may have been exaggerating" "Good point." "Alright, so think about that." "Hey guys, Twilight is such an awesome series!" Ugh.
Blah, wow, we can think about bloody Fox News. Wow. Why not teach us to think for ourselves by, I don't know, letting us think for ourselves? It's the most effective way.
"But homeschooling is only done by fundamentalist xians!" Bull. 'Homeschooling' is often used to refer to unschooling, except that it makes it sound more acceptable (see, most people learnt a lot from school, such as that people are incapable of teaching themselves, and only lunatics on drugs that work at McDonalds are dropouts). Of course, 'homeschooling' can also refer to the parents setting their children work and teaching them instead. Basically, parents brainwashing children, rather than teachers brainwashing them (don't get me wrong, teachers could be great people, but, to quote Ralph Emerson, "If you put a chain around the neck of a slave, the other end fastens itself around your own.")
Of course, there's also the nonsense about communism being 'good on paper, but impossible due to human nature' and bullshit, but you know the drill. As Gatto points out on the stifling of critical thinking by the schooling system, :Few teachers would dare to teach the tools whereby dogmas of a school or a teacher could be criticized, since everything must be accepted"
Of course, in school, all of the rigid categorization by age, and everything else, teaches you something. That is, you come to know you place. You also get taught dependence, how to be powerless, passive and pathetic.

"I do not believe much in education. Each man ought to be his own model, however frightful that may be." --Albert Einstein

Link to excerpts for Teenage Liberation Handbook. It's pretty much required reading for all teenagers. That is, read it, now. Adults may read it in order to realize what they've been missing out on. Razz
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WeiWuWei
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PostSubject: Re: Schooling and such   Fri Nov 21, 2008 4:54 pm

I want to be a teacher just because of issues like these, because the current schooling systems suck. I am convinced that all students of all ages need liberal - not in the political sense - and free forms of teaching.

As an Anarchist, I would want to integrate students entirely in the class, always having them involved in discussion, allowing them to express themselves fully, and I'd like them to be on my level. I'm only human, I'm not right about everything, so it just makes sense that the teacher shouldn't have authority over children.

Make class attendance non-compulsory. That's the main first step.

Although, to be fair, I'm for testing; what I'm not for is testing at that extreme. The point of tests is not to mechanically remember obscure facts. The point of tests is to find out what sticks with students, what they remember, and then later attempting to fill in the gaps for the things that students have a hard time with. I feel like, with the system they have there, students aren't learning anything; they're simply remembering things, which, of course, is not the same thing.

The point of learning and education is not to arm yourself with a degree so that you can get ahead in a dog-eat-dog economy. The point of it is, purely, to become more learned for the sake of being learned. I think that you'd be able to get a decent society that way.

That's what I think teaching must be like in a free and democratic society.

What you have described is against every principle I hold.

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Stos
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PostSubject: Re: Schooling and such   Fri Nov 21, 2008 10:44 pm

So a free school/skool, basically? I may become a teacher in one if possible (basically, we hold whatever classes we want, if enough students wish to participate. For example, you could do something on the Spanish Civil War, on socialism, then calculus the next day, whatever. Of course, students can also teach each other, or do whatever the hell they want (within democratically decided rules). Lessons can take place in gardens, etc, as well as rooms. It's basically mini-anarchy). Of course, the first one (probably) was created by Ferrer, an anarchist, and was responsible for radicalization of many Spanish people who formed the anarchists in the Spanish Civil War. Us libertarian socialists have all the good ideas. Smile
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Zealot_Kommunizma



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PostSubject: Re: Schooling and such   Sat Nov 22, 2008 9:29 am

WeiWuWei wrote:
I want to be a teacher just because of issues like these, because the current schooling systems suck. I am convinced that all students of all ages need liberal - not in the political sense - and free forms of teaching.

Seconded. I would also be a teacher because in my view is one of the best jobs you can have. Is one of the best jobs in which they pay you to potentially fuck up the system (being optimistic of course).

WeiWuWei wrote:

As an Anarchist, I would want to integrate students entirely in the class, always having them involved in discussion, allowing them to express themselves fully, and I'd like them to be on my level. I'm only human, I'm not right about everything, so it just makes sense that the teacher shouldn't have authority over children.

Right also, yet while the teacher must grant the students complete freedom of expression, inclusion and consideration, he/she is indeed excepted to have a greater knowledge authority at least than most of the students. He's not superior in anyway but he indeed must count with more knowledge, not in everything of course but at least in the case of specialized knowledge, yes.


WeiWuWei wrote:

Make class attendance non-compulsory. That's the main first step.

Seconded.

WeiWuWei wrote:

Although, to be fair, I'm for testing; what I'm not for is testing at that extreme. The point of tests is not to mechanically remember obscure facts. The point of tests is to find out what sticks with students, what they remember, and then later attempting to fill in the gaps for the things that students have a hard time with. I feel like, with the system they have there, students aren't learning anything; they're simply remembering things, which, of course, is not the same thing.

Well more than being for testing students' memory, I guess it's more to prove which student has a greater understanding of the phenomena being studied, a greater knowledge and of course a greater interest. After all, I'm also for interest-guided education.

WeiWuWei wrote:

The point of learning and education is not to arm yourself with a degree so that you can get ahead in a dog-eat-dog economy.

Except when you are in a capitalist system in which precisely education is for that, but not only. It's also to indoctrinate you into accepting the status quo as unalterable and to accept your roll either as employee or boss.

WeiWuWei wrote:

The point of it is, purely, to become more learned for the sake of being learned. I think that you'd be able to get a decent society that way.

This is an objective and socialist point of view on education, but, how does it apply to capitalism? No way! Education is intended to break down your spirit and to accept your condition either as slave or master.

Else, education may partially dictate some way (there's always the "rebellious" kind of teachers like us who will definitely go against the actual educational system) but after all, there's a society based entirely on this nepharious economic system and it will also teach people "the way to go". So I think that we shouldn't just educate those inside classrooms but also those who never attended or stopped attending long ago. Otherwise, our efforts at educating the students will be futile to a great extent.

WeiWuWei wrote:

That's what I think teaching must be like in a free and democratic society.

What you have described is against every principle I hold.

Seconded.
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Stos
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PostSubject: Re: Schooling and such   Mon Nov 24, 2008 2:37 am

Quote :
Seconded. I would also be a teacher because in my view is one of the best jobs you can have. Is one of the best jobs in which they pay you to potentially fuck up the system (being optimistic of course).
Eh, they'll pretty much get your hands tied down by the curriculum.

Quote :
Well more than being for testing students' memory, I guess it's more to prove which student has a greater understanding of the phenomena being studied, a greater knowledge and of course a greater interest. After all, I'm also for interest-guided education.
Tests don't generally test if students have a greater understanding, I don't see how one can do that with the test format.

Quote :
So I think that we shouldn't just educate those inside classrooms but also those who never attended or stopped attending long ago. Otherwise, our efforts at educating the students will be futile to a great extent.
Some of them would have actually got a far superior education to that which you get in most schools (unschoolers), though many just have no choice, for example, if they have to drop out to help their family raise enough money by working, etc.
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PostSubject: Re: Schooling and such   Mon Nov 24, 2008 10:00 am

Stos wrote:

Eh, they'll pretty much get your hands tied down by the curriculum.

Fortunately, at least here in Mexico, many dismiss the curriculum. The new curriculum was designed for lazy teachers in that it reliefs them from the need to teach their class. Now they can just tell students to study by themselves while leaving them enormous ammounts of homework and classwork. The only thing they'll do is to say "ok" or "not ok, do it again" or "you failed". But many teachers choose to give their classes the way they want and the direction won't mess with them as long as they cover tghe topics presented by direction and an apparent ammount of work.

I remember my teacher of Biology in High School, he would give his classes like he was chatting with us, would let us sit the way we wanted we would talk about topics in general, use cursewords, eat during class and so on. He'd do his best to prepare us to pass the test required by direction and would help out those that failed. Sometimes the director paid visits to the classroom so we often checked when he was approaching and when he approached we just put the chairs in place and he started explaining something tedious until the director went away.

Teachers had to collect a number of signed works so that direction didn't mess with them, so he told us this, he dictated little parragraphs or did schemes in the blackboard that we would copy, very little and simple tasks, he would sign them as if they were the work and he would show that to direction, which wouldn't notice.

As long as the system is not excesively repressive and organized you can trick on it.

Stos wrote:

Tests don't generally test if students have a greater understanding, I don't see how one can do that with the test format.

I think it depends on the subject, the way you apply tests and the kind of questions you formulate in said tests.

Stos wrote:

Some of them would have actually got a far superior education to that which you get in most schools (unschoolers), though many just have no choice, for example, if they have to drop out to help their family raise enough money by working, etc.

The keyword here is "some". Most workers really don't have a high level of education, and specially in 3rd world countries where lots of people barely know how to read and write.
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Stos
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PostSubject: Re: Schooling and such   Tue Nov 25, 2008 1:06 am

Zealot_Kommunizma wrote:
Stos wrote:

Eh, they'll pretty much get your hands tied down by the curriculum.

Fortunately, at least here in Mexico, many dismiss the curriculum.
Great. It's not perfect, but it's still superior to the curriculum-based bullshit we have here. However, we also get loads of teachers queing up because of the high wages, so they could just fire teachers with impunity if they're not teaching the kids to obey.

Quote :
Stos wrote:

Tests don't generally test if students have a greater understanding, I don't see how one can do that with the test format.

I think it depends on the subject, the way you apply tests and the kind of questions you formulate in said tests.
Stuff like debates, projects, or just allowing people to do stuff that they're interested in without testing them, is generally a better idea.

Zealot_Kommunizma wrote:

Stos wrote:

Some of them would have actually got a far superior education to that which you get in most schools (unschoolers), though many just have no choice, for example, if they have to drop out to help their family raise enough money by working, etc.

The keyword here is "some".
Of course many dropouts don't, the capitalists need some people to work at their fast food restaurants.
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Zealot_Kommunizma



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PostSubject: Re: Schooling and such   Tue Nov 25, 2008 1:16 am

Stos wrote:



Great. It's not perfect, but it's still superior to the curriculum-based bullshit we have here. However, we also get loads of teachers queing up because of the high wages, so they could just fire teachers with impunity if they're not teaching the kids to obey.

Wow, high wages for teachers... here in Mexico they're paid almost the minimum wage.

Stos wrote:


Stuff like debates, projects, or just allowing people to do stuff that they're interested in without testing them, is generally a better idea.

Well in the case of engineering and such things tests could be a good idea. They would just have relevance as a way to see the theoretical proficiency the student has in said subject.

Stos wrote:

Of course many dropouts don't, the capitalists need some people to work at their fast food restaurants.

Well in many cases these people conform the majority.
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