Ideas from Unschooling Oppression Conference

From the organizers of the Unschooling Oppression conference (November 2007, Ottawa):

This is what was brainstormed by the breakout groups and written on the board during the conference’s concluding caucus (problems and proposed solutions). We don’t need to use any or all of it, but it is useful in helping to refresh our memories and reinvigorate our passion:

A) Problems with current/traditional education (more or less organized into general categories):

a) structure-related problems
– university structure
– the physical and mental space (students are neither free nor empowered)
– structure and rules vs freedom
– no democratic structure
– age segregation
– education is not self-directed
– imprisonment and artificial environment
– funding (inadequate)
– the size of the institution is overwhelming, there are too many problems
– passivity
– hidden curriculum
– hierarchy
– bullying (by teachers/staff)
– professionals and students not involved in determining system/curriculum
– death (as in, the current system is life-suppressing)
– military structure
– hydra (too many heads/authorities; undemocratic)
– authority and student/teacher roles (ex: banking model)
– standardized
– superficial
– no autonomy
– no transparency
– oppressive system (to kids)
– adult supervision and proportionality
– blaming kids for failures
– teachers and learning process, lack of continuity (ex learning ‘stops’ during summer break)
– symbolic violence (most of this list fits here)

b) motivation
– grades and ranking
– motivation (external, superficial)
– intention of schools (to indoctrinate workers)
– institutional dependence
– symbolic violence (most of this list fits here)

c) content
– no choice
– no critical thinking
– sexism, racism, classism, homophobia… (phobias and -isms)
– lack of accuracy
– need for balance, not representative
– no emph on action or practicality
– insufficient resources
– no time to focus or really care, superficial coverage
– symbolic violence (most of this list fits here)

B) Proposed solutions
(not organized; mostly just a list of tactics):

– challenging authority and -isms
– eliminating authority and -isms
– empowerment
– school squatting
– individual action
– skill shares
– school of life (everyday presents potential learning experiences, etc)
– boycott (standardized) testing
– sabotage
– petitioning
– workshops and presentations on schooling
– public workshops
– input @ board meetings, tangibility
– teacher teach-in
– exile for workshops
– demand accountability, and empower to do so; assertiveness-training
– involved community
– learning exchange
– present at teacher’s-ed conference
– communal kitchen/eat-in/learning event
– booth with info
– festival
– build a free school
– edu-tainment
– let demand dictate resources
– unSchooling Oppression 2008
– mental self-defense
– protest/demos at ministry of education
– re-writing the dictionary
– support the building of a super-library

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