“Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains.” Rosseau
I had a Twitter conversation this morning with a friend from grade 9. A fellow passionate educator whom I reconnected with last summer while I was at the OTF Teaching and Learning in the 21st Century conference.
It started when I tweeted her to ask if she was going to the #ITSE2012 conference in San Diego. She isn’t. For some interesting reasons. The conversation got to the school system and how the neo-liberal system we live in binds the hands of teachers who want to do “radical” things with their students.
I’m thinking that a lot of my discomfort with the system relates to the neo-liberal paradigm. Considering that I studied Political Science for my undergraduate degree you would think I would have paid more attention to this idea.
I never really thought of myself as radical but I guess I am. I do know that I never felt like I really fit in anywhere. I never did find my niche in terms of my philosophy. I don’t mean my educational philosophy, I mean my personal and political philosophy which I haven’t fully defined.
What does this mean? It means that I think children should have autonomy. That they can direct their own learning. They can ask their own questions and follow up with research. It means that they shouldn’t have to create a diorama, essay, blog, or anything else to prove it. Assessment. A waste of time. We spend so much time and money on it but what is the point? To prove that a student has learned some content? To prove they know how to learn?
As I’ve written over on Urbanmoms.ca here and here, I want to unschool my children. Some of my reasons revolve around the school system as I write about here. My husband and I have not made that possible. So far our choices revolve around my job. Teaching in a neo-liberal system that I don’t think supports human learning and development. I want my kids to have models who are mindful, empathetic, passionate about life and learning, naturalists, and free.
I believe in public education because I believe in equity. But our system is not equitable. Neo-liberalism does not foster equity. I don’t think a paradigm shift is coming any time soon, so in the meantime I will learn as much as I can about inquiry learning in the classroom.
I need to think about this a lot more. Good thing summer is coming.