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How schooling damages people, and how we can fix it

This is a collection of links to articles written by Shaun Kerry, M.D. (Diplomate, American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology), and other people. These lists were found on world-prosperity.org.

Our government spends more than 550 billion dollars per year on education, yet home schooled children - who have markedly fewer financial resources - continue to outperform those students who are schooled in traditional classrooms.  In order to truly reform the system, we will need to cease placing such excessive value on standardized testing, and realize that education may not always be easily quantified.  This site focuses largely on the detrimental psychological effects of institutional rigidity and the "tough standards movement."

The "Tough Standards" Movement: A psychiatrist's description of the "Tough Standards" movement and an explanation of how school interests are dominated by the political and corporate worlds.

Education and Freedom: Education discussed as a coercive psychological system that forces students to conform, and prevents them from thinking for themselves or developing according to their own personal constitution's.

How People Learn Differently: The system fails to recognize that all people learn differently.  Males often learn differently than females.  This lack of recognition leads many people to denial and a lack of emotional integration.

Getting the Big Picture: Not everyone is able to learn solely through the use of the written word.  We need a teaching method that works for everyone, and incorporates other methods of learning.

Education for the Whole Brain: The human brain has many parts, but our present educational system only addresses a small percentage of these.

Short and Long Term Memory: Forcing students to do rote memorization and complete repetitive exercise does nothing in terms of actual learning. Short term memory, rather than actual understanding or long term memory, is what the school system's focus.

Mind Damage Through Excessive Control: Schools function similarly to cults, controlling the lives of their students, and hindering their healthy emotional and mental development.

Discovering Who We Are: Forcing students to take part in a rigid curriculum stunts their growth as unique individuals.  Education shouldn't be mandatory, but rather, an invitation.

Mental Illness: Mental illness is now the leading cause for hospitalization of children ages 5 through 19.  Rather than help to alleviate this problem, our schools only make it worse.

Families and Mindfulness: Much of the dysfunction that plagues the modern family can be traced back to false ideas and damaging practices that are an inherent part of the school system.

The Alienation of Emotion: A personal experience from my psychiatric training, and commentary about the high prevalence of mental illness in our society.

Alienation In The Life Of Students: The modern classroom produces feelings of alienation, particularly when the administration controls the curriculum, and the students feel powerless.

Destructive Anger: Tracing anger back to early childhood development, I found that it was usually the result of three things: abuse, control, and neglect.  Three things that are prevalent in our schools.

Follow The Leader: Article by Periel Kaczmanrek that explores the flaws of compulsory education.

"Do No Harm" : The present educational system is damaging to young people. If it doesn't serve to help young people learn, it should at least adopt the rule of doing no harm.

Famous High School Dropouts: A partial listing of some famous and highly successful high school dropouts.

Storm Of The Century: Discussion of symbolism found in the compelling novel by Stephen King, which has also been adapted into a film.  Fear, forced compliance, and a system that operates on the "give me what I want and I'll go away" principle.

A Logical Overview: Our entire school system is based on faulty logic, which, in turn, is based on false assumptions.  We must reexamine our beliefs regarding the functioning of society.

Education as Top Priority: In a poll conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates, 76 percent of the respondents asserted that the federal government should increase spending for education, thus ranking education as the most important issue among 14 issues including health care, Medicare and crime (cited in Public Agenda Online, 2002b).

Institutionalization and Deschooling:  The adverse impact of institutions on patients living in psychiatric facilities can be analogized to the experiences of children who have been subjected to the pressures of traditional schooling.

Animals in Captivity vs. Animals in the Wild:  One of the key problems with placing animals in captivity is the fact that the typical development of their authentic being is arrested at all levels.

Bibliography: A list of books that discuss school reform, and support the conclusions upon which our ideas for educational change are based.

Our school system is the most fundamental cause of the social problems that our society faces today.  Traditional methods of compulsory education have managed to isolate the classroom from greater society, stifle creativity, and prohibit children from progressing at their own pace and according to their own needs.  Through reexamining our fundamental beliefs about learning, allowing children to control their own education curriculum, and utilizing modern technology, we can make school more enjoyable, effective, affordable, and tailored to the unique needs of individual students.

School-Reform.net: The school system considered as the most fundamental causes of our modern social problems, and how to change society, beginning with the classroom.

School Reform That Works: All children have a unique personality, and would learn best if they were allowed to develop their own educational programs.

Mindfulness: A Definition: Transcending the mediocre and the negative. Developing patience and focus.

Mindfulness: What It Looks Like: Characteristics of mindful people.

How to Be Mindful: An Introduction: Methods for developing mindfulness; how to cultivate an intense and profound self-awareness, which lies at the heart of an ideal society.

Mindlessness: What it Looks Like: How elaborate buildings conceal the true impairments of the school system.

Mindfulness: How To Develop It Within the Schools: Abandoning the rigid curriculum, getting rid of the pressure, and catering to the needs of the individual students.

The Bottleneck Subjects: High schools need to offer instruction that prepares people for careers as lawyers, doctors, electricians, and plumbers. Trades should be given equal emphasis as academic subjects.

The Mindlessness Of Irrelevancy: Institutional learning is more hindrance than help.  Kids would learn more if they were allowed to learn about the subjects in which they were interested.

Technology In Education Reform: How to use technology to integrate the classroom and the real world.

The Way We Learn: Changing the way we teach to improve the quality of students' learning.

The Transition to Valuable Social Contribution: Fear is a poor tool for motivating students.  What they really need is independence and teachers who care rather than control.

Integrating the Resources of Public Schools and Home Schooling: Combining the flexibility of home schooling with the guidance of teachers to create 'learning centers'.

The Unschooled Mind: Students who excel at academics often are unable to comprehend the basic fundamentals.

The Damaging Effects of Inappropriate Control on our Children:  Research shows how damaging excessive control from the educational system and parents interferes with child development.

Frequently Asked Questions: Page one    Page two    Page three    Page four

Action: Some concrete steps that you can take to help reform our school system.

Bibliography: A list of books that discuss school reform, and support the conclusions upon which our ideas for educational change are based.

This website contains various summaries of some of the most important and influential books that have been written on topics pertaining to education reform, and includes reviews of books written by such prominent authors as John Taylor Gatto, John Holt, and Alfie Kohn.  These books elaborate upon some of the major themes that arise in our education and school reform websites, and will add to our readers' understanding of the current state of our school system.  Though it will be highly beneficial to read these reviews, we recommend that, if a particular summary peaks your interest, you read that book in its entirety.  By doing so, the depth of your understanding will be dramatically increased.

A Different Kind of Teacher: According to John Taylor Gatto, the problem with our schools is not that we have bad teachers, bad parents, or bad administrators, but rather, that we have an underlying institutional flaw.  The present educational system is built upon a foundation of coercion and control.

Dumbing Us Down - The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling: John Taylor Gatto, a former New York State Teacher of the Year, exposes the fallacies of compulsory education.  Remember, prior to 1850, mandatory 'schooling', in the traditional sense of the word, didn't even exist in the United States.

Rich & Happy: A review of the book entitled "If You Want to Be Rich and Happy, Don't Go to School" by Robert T. Kiyosaki, which argues that our present school system's claim that it helps young people grow into adults who will realize the 'American Dream' is bogus.  Rather than evolve with the world, our educational system clings to obsolete practices.

Punished by Rewards: Alfie Kohn explains how rewards systems destroy people’s intrinsic motivation for learning - i.e. the pure love of a subject - and replace that with extrinsic motivation.  This tool is used to control students, and intensifies the imbalance of power that exists between children and their teachers.

Freedom and Beyond: In the book by this name, John Holt stresses that reforming our educational system means changing our conception of education, rather than simply modernizing schools and buying more equipment.  In going beyond educational reform, the book also addresses the issue of schooling and its relation to poverty.

How Children Learn:  In this book, John Holt rejects the idea that children are "monsters of evil" who must be beaten into submission or computers whom "we can program into geniuses."  Neither are they the passive receptacles of knowledge that can only learn in a schoolroom.  Instead, he calls upon parents and educators to "trust children."

Deschooling Our Lives: Matt Hern presents a compilation of short essays by deschooling parents, advocates, and educators.  He discusses the various aspects of alternative schooling, ranging from the philosophies of its original supporters to representatives from modern alternative schools.

You Know What They Say... : The Truth About Popular Beliefs  Using humor and armed with expert studies Alfie Kohn attempts to question some of most basic beliefs on a variety of subjects.  Kohn's synthesis and critique of various studies whose attempts at science are often times dubious-prove for some surprising results.

Family Matters - Why Home schooling Makes Sense: David Guterson’s case for home schooling.  Unlike the public school system, home schooling offers a child-centered curriculum that promotes the children’s pursuit of their interests.  Rather than impose their expectations of education on their children, parents allow their children to take the initiative in the learning process by guiding them in the right direction.

The Case Against Competition: Alfie Kohn exposes the "myths of competition" and explains how such beliefs thrive in our classrooms, pitting one student against another, bolstering insecurity, and damaging self esteem.

How Children Fail: Drawing on his observations of modern education, John Holt concludes that our school system produces feelings of boredom, fear, humiliation, and confusion and predestine our children for failure.

 Beyond Discipline: Kohn challenges traditional assumptions about classroom management and control that have dominated the school system for decades, and advocates a democratic classroom, in which students direct the course of their own education.

The Unschooling Handbook: A book by Mary Griffith that will teach you "How to Use the Whole World as Your Child’s Classroom."  Present day Americans have difficulty imagining an education that takes place outside of the walls of the school.  Griffith provides the blueprint for just that: and education that isn’t confined to the classroom.

 Flow:  The Psychology of optimal Experience: A book by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, which describes the concept known as flow.  This term refers to the feeling that makes an experience genuinely satisfying; or a state of concentration so focused that it amounts to absolute absorption in an activity.  Basically, flow equates to happiness.  At present, our present school system all but prohibits students from experiencing this sensation.

 Learning All the Time: John Holt explains how the present school system treats students as passive beings, who are waiting to be taught subject matter by their teachers or other adults. This couldn't be further from the truth.  Children are naturally scientists, writers, thinkers, and problem solvers.  And living is a powerful learning process in itself.  School impedes this process.

 Growing Without Schooling: John Holt's compilation of the first twelve issues of the publication "Growing Without Schooling" is a record of the grass roots education movement, which includes information on relevant legal concerns, home schooling methods, and studies of both current and past alternative education movements.

Challenging the Giant: This book by Mary Leue captures the unique characteristics, the philosophy of independence, and the creative methods which have defined the alternative education system for nearly four decades. 

Sources: world-prosperity.org - here, here and here.

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Posted in: Resources by SoulRiser on January 28, 2010 @ 7:53 PM

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