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Our Survival May Depend Upon Kids Who Haven’t Been to School – November 29, 2011
Once again I have heard the term “anarchy” incorrectly used to describe an incident of vandalism, violence, and mayhem said to have been perpetrated by “anarchists.” In reality, anarchy can be defined as a society without a popularly recognized government or a central governing authority. And that, most people assume, will automatically lead to vandalism, violence, and mayhem.

Why do they think that? Most people just can’t imagine living without hierarchy, laws, leaders, and authorities telling them what to do and how to do it. In the same way, most adults cannot believe that children are capable of managing their own lives and learning without adult direction. We simply do not trust ourselves and other people, including our own children, to live peacefully and productively without being told what to do.

We have been brought up to be followers who do what we’re told by a class of experts and leaders – in our families, churches, schools, and other institutions. As I wrote in Challenging Assumptions in Education, the school assembly line has conditioned us to think that anything more difficult than which brands to buy should be left to the “experts.” Doctoring ourselves is irresponsible, constructing our own houses is impossible, learning on our own is unreliable, and organizing within our communities is subversive.

We’re experiencing mayhem these days – economically, environmentally, and socially. Will we ever find just the right government, political party, or leader to fix everything for us? Probably not. In fact, we just might have to take matters into our own hands, as many people around the world have been doing, in a variety of ways. And many people find that scary. For instance, the Occupy movement’s use of tools like consensus decision making and lack of spokespeople is as frustrating to many observers as it is important to its existence and message. We are not used to active participation and problem-solving, and that which is unfamiliar we often find scary.

However, we need to develop these tools and many more in order to find a way out of the mayhem my generation has created. And those who are growing up without school and with their active questioning abilities, self-esteem, self-reliance, and other important qualities intact are those most apt to do that.
Posted: 2011/11/29 11:30 AM


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