Time to Cut Class

Ditch habits left over from school and free your mind

| May - June 2008

  • Class Cutting Time

    image by Jason Raish

  • Class Cutting Time

Many revolutions fail when they tear down one system only to replace it with another embodying the same unconscious habits and beliefs. An education revolution would be no different. Personally, I’ve noticed time and again the habits of schooling infecting what I do; sometimes I end up perpetuating the mind-set even when I speak out against it.

How to avoid recreating the old within the new? How to prevent the underlying problems from expressing themselves in new form? Ideological vigilance is not enough, which is why I have decided to “deschool” myself, to bring these unconscious habits into my consciousness and dispel them.

In that spirit, I offer up this list of some of the habits and beliefs of schooling that I’ve noticed in myself. None of these are exclusive to school, of course, just as school doesn’t exist in isolation from other institutions of our civilization. These habits and beliefs are ambient in our culture; school is just one way of enacting and reinforcing them.

1. Seeking “credit” for the right answer.
2. Seeing problems as having a right answer, and thinking that by articulating the solution, I have solved the problem.
3. Seeking external validation for choices, as in “What should I do?” (I can’t just choose, can I? How do I know it’s the right choice? I had better go ask someone.)
4. Work: a matter of completing assignments.
5. Life: a process of graduating from one externally provided program to the next.
6. Status: defined by rank within an institution.
7. Personal worth: dependent on external evaluations.

Wait! As you read through these points, do you notice any habits of schooling operating within yourself? Are you skimming them to simply check if you “know” them already (as if for a quiz)? Are you evaluating each one to determine whether it is right or wrong?

It was in school, after all, that we first learned that it’s important to be right, to hold the correct opinion, and to be able to produce the right answer. Well, what about letting go of being right and just listening without judgment? Listening truly and deeply to another person is a new thing for me, one that requires combating habits of constantly evaluating myself and others, or listening only enough to garner information.

6/15/2008 12:24:04 PM

Hi, I share your thinking about learning/'educaton/'. I went through that anguish and never forgot related 'interactions' with former teachers. This experience shaped my teaching practice later in life. Have you read: Deschooling Society by Ivan Illich Pub:Harper,1971 There might be a more recent publication edition Peter.

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