Archives for the month of: June, 2014

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The Book of Learning and Forgetting
Frank Smith
Teachers College Press 1998

If pointless and time-consuming programs, drills, and tests were taken away, teachers could be free to get on with the kinds of activity that promote permanent and worthwhile learning. They could bring students into constant contact with people from whom they can learn, inside the classroom and outside. Teachers who can’t do their job without instructional procedures, materials, and goals designed by people who have no contact with their students are in the wrong occupation and should perhaps be called technicians rather than teachers.

An unremitting school experience of competitiveness, apprehension, and triviality doesn’t strengthen students for future trials and adversity. The people best able to survive sudden starvation are those who have been well fed, not starved for most of their life.

Schools liberated from the official theory of learning would not be standardized. They’d come in a variety of guises. The essence of any liberated school is that it would be a community and not a hierarchy of principal, teachers, support staff, and students. Liberated schools would lack mindless exercises, punitive tests, discrimination, segregation, pointless competition, labeling of individuals, restrictive timetables, and public/private humiliation of teachers and students.

There would be many interesting activities to engage in, from anthropology to zoology. Schools would be full of clubs, interest groups, and talent workshops that maximized highest levels of participation. Not all schools would attempt to do the same things. Schools would vary the way individuals vary.

A liberated school might be organized like a good professional conference. There is plenty going on – speakers, displays, discussions, excursions, and cultural events. There are also constant possibilities for escape, for rest, reflection, conversation, reading and writing. There are quiet corners; facilities for exercise; access to food, drink, and bathrooms; and opportunities for self and social expression, with no coercion or evaluation. A liberated school would be a civilized experience, in other words, different perhaps for every participant but rewarding and satisfying for all.

kindergarten4

kindergarten5Kinder3Inventing Kindergarten

Beautiful Handwork & Beautiful Brains

The more we disconnect our fingers from our hands and our hands from our brains and our brains from our imaginations, the better THEY like it.
All will be easier. The takeover and divestment will go more smoothly. No need for roundups or internment camps or mass eliminations because our spirits won’t cause us to resist.
That is the way THEY would like it to go down. We’ve seen all of this before, every history buff is full of stories. But these stories are of real events disrupting the creative lives of good people and there is a pattern to the narratives.
Teachers have their own special place in the refusal. They must occupy that space right now and with no hesitation. Joining with other teachers to organize not just for tenure, pensions, an end to high stakes testing, job security or a stop to unregulated, for-profit charters. What is at stake is so much bigger and more dangerous than these grassroots issues. It is the big picture that we must now image, analyze and act on before it is too late.

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