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Dear Ms. Adams,
If I had more available time, I could try to inspire you or refer you to some of the more inspirational literature and people I’ve encountered. Maybe later. However, those people I’ve come across in the alternative community so far and many in the school domain (not the “educational field) are chock full of inspiration, enthusiasm, and elation, while unable or unwilling to accept reality as it exists. False promises and illusory hopes abound. Going in repetitive circles is not “significant progress”.
Grassroots social change is a wonderful and reaffirming enterprise. I’m all for it. Unfortunately, withdrawing from a real fight when there are children being subjected daily to a denial of constitutional rights, dignity, and authentic educational opportunities and are forced to endure harmful conditioning and abuses on a grand scale is foolhardy and, in my opinion, cowardly. Going off into these thrilling protected enclaves to provide freedom for a few happy-go-lucky children, hoping that setting an example and spreading the gospel of self-directed learning far and wide will lead to “large scale system change” is irresponsible and dangerous. Systems don’t provide education and systems don’t support autonomy. Bad laws create bad non-systems.
You may want easy answers and great experiences with cool friends. You may genuinely care about kids and the future. But, we don’t have any more time to dilly-dally and re-invent the educational wheel. No one alive today can say they invented freedom and autonomy for children. This isn’t about encounter or alternative lifestyles. It’s about saving democracy itself from utter destruction.
Find a copy of Tolstoy’s “Essays on Education”. Read Friedenberger’s, “The Disposal of Liberty and Other Industrial Wastes”. Investigate the reasons why John Holt’s revolutionary message has been hijacked or misapplied to just another iteration of school reform without the school or the reform. Rescuing a handful of children, waiting for a tidal wave when superficial change is all one sees, and dreaming about an ideal or Utopian future is not for me. Check out my website. Oops, not allowed. Contact me personally for my website then. Also, I recommended the book, “Philosophy in the Flesh”, by Lakoff and Johnson to another poster. That’s if you are serious and are looking for an actual paradigm shift instead of a glacial slide or a decline into chaos.
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