Monday, May 23, 2011

The unattainable ideal

I have been reading Guerrilla Learning...I am finding it a bit hard at the moment possibly because of sick children but possibly because I find some of the ideas a bit hard to comprehend at the moment and probably need to do a bit more reading.

But I've still really enjoyed this part here....see below

Whatever the Reasons, Schools Are the Way They Are and We Can Stop Pretending They're Otherwise

Perhaps no one deliberately aimed to design schools that would leave most of the people in them -teachers as well as children - uninspired, cynical, and defeated. Perhaps our schools are only victims of the trap into which all human institutions, as mythologist Joseph Campbell has pointed out, fall prey: They evolve into systems with their own purposes and ultimately come to exist for the preservation of their own survival, rather than to serve the human beings whose lives they were originally designed to enhance.

Thus government officials wind up working for the expansion of their departments, instead of for the improvement of public life; healthcare systems shift paradoxically toward conditions hostile to health; and religious institutions can grow, in time, to be the least likely places on earth one might experience the divine.

Systems by their nature are unfeeling, rigid, and abstract. They take what is alive and turn it into machinery, sacrificing vitality for efficiency. One function of mythology, said Campbell, is to help people transform and transcend outmoded systems, which have inevitably grown self-serving and gained a stranglehold on the life of the community

No matter what caused our schools to be the way they are, if one looks honestly and openly at them-now and in the past-cynicism and defeat is what one sees. But often we don't look honestly and openly. As parents, as teachers, as grown-up children ourselves, we often ignore our real-world experience of schools in favour of a shared cultural fiction about how school works. We've been subtly indoctrinated into a fable that somewhere there exists a peaceful, orderly classroom, full of happy, diligent children, where the strict but loving teacher inspires young minds to love learning and to develop discipline. But this classroom almost never appears here and now. Where is this ideal classroom? It is down the hall. No.... Then it must be in another school, across town, or across the country Wait, that was several years ago. Oh, you went to that school? It wasn't like that, after all? Did this ideal school exist in the 1950s, or was it in the late nineteenth century?

If our children would just buckle down, implies the cultural myth, or parents were more involved, or teachers were better trained, or the newest ideas and techniques were implemented, or we returned to the basic techniques of the past, our classrooms would work too.

Maybe some people experienced such a classroom in their youth. Or maybe some kids are in one right now. For many, however, the ideal-school myth distracts us from noticing the actual conditions of this school, these children, the reality in which we live. Like unattainable ideals about family life, this ideal is not inspiring but oppressive. It doesn't tell us how to be the way these ideal people are; it just tells us that the way we are is wrong. The unattainable ideal distracts us with an inappropriate question: What's wrong? What's wrong with my kids? What's wrong with this classroom? This school? This teacher? Kids these days? The country? Me?

I find this last part so true in so many areas. I used to blog about children/babies and their sleep needs. When I first started blogging I had no idea how much our culture had developed these ideas and how much we tried to fill them. The idea that children well Babies sleep through the night.

And now children and their learning or the type of school which we see as ideal. So nothing is wrong with our children they are just children. Some learn what you want to learn NOW and some do not. Some learn how you want them to learn and some do not.

It is not the school, or the teacher or the child which is not right .... its the ideal...the dream which someone has started and everyone tries so hard to aim for. Like getting a baby to sleep through the night....yes you can do can make them "cry it out" and you can win...but what is the price that you have to many people do not look at that price or even think that there is a price because they feel that they have obtained the ideal/perceived normal where in fact we are so far from it.

But baby and sleep is a touchy issue...then so is school...maybe both need some looking into.

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