- Anna Brix Thomsen
Hacking The School System from Within. 102
“We don’t yet know, above all, what the world might be like if children were to grow up without being subjected to humiliation, if parents would respect them and take them seriously as people.” ~ Alice Miller
The past few months I have been working with introducing unschooling principles into my work as a teacher. As mentioned in a previous post, unschooling is an educational principle where all traditional schooling activities such as sitting in a class, doing homework and working with textbooks is taken out of a child’s educational process. Traditional schooling is replaced with self-directed and life learning principles where the child is trusted to pursue his or her interests and passion at their own pace. Instead of being educated by parents and teachers, the child relies on adults as sparring partners that stand as pillars of support.
So with unschooling being an educational principle where all traditional schooling is discontinued, how am I unschooling in the school system?
I know; it is paradoxical to talk about unschooling in the school system, especially when a basic premise of unschooling is to disengage with the school system all together. Some may say that it is misnomer to even use the term ‘unschooling’ for what I am doing since I am doing it within the confines of the school system and although I agree to a certain extent, I simply have not yet come up with a better term for what I do, and so I use the term unschooling because the basic principles of unschooling are what I am implementing into my teaching on a daily basis.
So now you may ask why am I implementing unschooling principles into the school system instead of disengaging with it all together like other unschooling advocates, especially considering what we know about the origin and design of the school system and the effects it has on children.
That is what I will discuss in this post.
The answer to the question is twofold: Firstly, I live in a country (Sweden) where it is entirely prohibited to homeschool (and thus unschool), where parents are fined and where children have taken into custody if they dare to oppose the legislation and educate their child at home. Therefore I have had no choice but to look for alternatives to unschooling outside the school system.
Secondly and more importantly; as a sociologist, children’s rights advocate and educational activist, I am interested in unschooling as a solution to the neglect and degradation imposed on children by the formal school system and my goal is to contribute to a paradigm change in the way we think about education and the way we as adults interact with children in general, with the aim of ultimately changing the education system in its entirety.
Recently, someone made a comment on a post I posted on Facebook saying that they had given up on the formal school system and had turned completely to the alternative education communities.
While I completely understand why someone would want to disengage with the formal school system and while I wholeheartedly would want for all children to be unschooled in a supportive environment, I also see the pertinent need for transformative voices within the walls of the confines of the school system.
As human beings, whether we like it or not, we live together on one planet within a world system that many of us would prefer not to have, but that we are also, through being part of the human race that created the system, directly and indirectly responsible for.
There is no ‘getting off the boat’ or the ‘sinking ship’ if you will in terms of simply calling ‘quits’ on the system and opt out of being a part of the system. Of course you can do it for a while. You may even do it for a lifetime, moving into an alternative community or building a cabin in the woods, but it doesn’t solve the problem. Maybe for you and your family it does, but because everyone else is still trapped in the same system and because of the consequences that system has on our ecosystems and interconnectedness on earth, in one way or another, it will affect you and yours. And even if it does not, I would say that we each have a responsibility for the home we all share, especially if we have opened our eyes to the atrocities and actually see solutions to the problems we are facing globally as well as locally.
This is not to say that parents who choose to homeschool or unschool their children are doing the wrong thing – in fact I commend those who are able to do so and I would certainly have wanted parents who respected my sovereignty to such an extent as a child. However, we also need activists, leaders, politicians and advocates who work towards changing the system from within.
Why it is important to hack the system from within
We all know that demanding change is futile; the system is not suddenly going to ‘come to its senses’ as it is a man made entity that has gained such a stronghold on our collective bodies and minds, that it holds the entire world population in an indefinite gridlock. Instigating violent revolutions is equally redundant because even when they are successful, the system recreates itself and eventually reverts back to its dysfunctional ways.
Money and organization is one of the primary factors why making change in the system can be so difficult and this is also one of the reasons why so many turn their back at the system in an attempt to disengage with it to be part of the solution rather than making matters worse. Adding the gross amount of cognitive disinformation flooding the public sphere with a toxic haze of sedation, it easily seems like an impossible to penetrate the iron wall of lunacy that this world system has become.
It is therefore imperative that we as citizens and grassroots activists start inserting ourselves into the ‘belly of the beast’ and start changing the system from within to literally hack it from the inside and this is exactly what I am doing through introducing unschooling into the school system.
In the next post I will go more into detail about how I unschool the school system in my daily work as a teacher and I will discuss how this is something all teachers and parents can do and actually make a profound difference in the education system.
It doesn’t cost any money. It doesn’t require an army of lawyers and academics and publicists. All it requires is one person who is willing to change themselves to make a difference in this world.
For more information I invite you to watch this recent interview I gave on the Living Income Guaranteed channel:
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