Software and life, mostly life.

03 December 2007

Instead of Education

Not all people will give the word "education" the meaning I give it here. Some may think of it, as I once described it, as "something a person gets for himself, not that which someone else gives or does to him." But I choose to define it here as most people do, something that some people do to others for their own good, molding and shaping them, and trying to make them learn what they think they ought to know. Today, everywhere in the world, that is what "education" has become, and I am wholly against it. People still spend a great deal of time--as for years I did myself--talking about how to make "education" more effective and efficient, or how to do it or give it to more people, or how to reform or humanize it. But to make it more Effective and efficient will only be to make it worse, and to help it do even more harm. It cannot be reformed, cannot be carried out wisely or humanely, because its purpose is neither wise nor humane.

Next to the right to life itself, the most fundamental of all human rights is the right to control our own minds and thoughts. That means, the right to decide for ourselves how we will explore the world around us, think about our own and other persons' experiences, and find and make the meaning of our own lives. Whoever takes that right away from us, as the educators do, attacks the very center of our being and does us a most profound and lasting injury. He tells us, in effect, that we cannot be trusted even to thing, that for all our lives we must depend on others to tell us the meaning of our world and our lives, and that any meaning we may make for ourselves, out of our own experience, has no value.

Education, with its supporting system of compulsory and competitive schooling, all its carrots and sticks, its grades, diplomas, and credentials, now seems to me perhaps the most authoritarian and dangerous of all the social inventions of mankind. It is the deepest foundation of the modern and worldwide slave state, in which most people feel themselves to be nothing but producers, consumers, spectators, and "fans," driven more and more, in all parts of their lives, by greed, envy, and fear. My concern is not to improve "education" but to do away with it, to end the ugly and antihuman business of people shaping and let people shape themselves.


John Holt, Instead of Education pp 3, 4

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Baltimore, MD, United States
Husband and father, software developer in Baltimore, MD. http://adambachman.org