When schooling is good, it can be really awesome

You might have read me bitching about schooling on this blog before (at least on Why the school system is dangerous). I do think schooling is bad for our children when only the traditional systems and ignoring the children’s interests is behind the scenes.

Fortunately, there’s also good schooling. Some alternatives to the traditional schools are around, like Montessori, Waldorf, Reggio Emilia, The Sudbury School, Summerhill School and Homeschooling, you can find information on some of these inspired methods here (and please add any other you know in the comments section to spread the good information).

These schools usually have different and changeable curricula, age mixing, order and discipline (forget accusations on mere anarchy), values on education, holistic philosophies, pluralism and political neutrality.

When a school uses ideas of group learning and intrinsic motivation, I am all about it.

When I was couchsurfing in San Jose, I met Sharon, a ¨fundamentalist¨ unschooler.  She was instructed enough with studies and experience to talk about the topic and made strong impressions on me.

She criticized parents saying that their children love school. ¨Well¨, she said, ¨if you are so sure, you should ask your child every day if she wants to go to school¨. When not given the choice of not going, you can’t really say that is the child who wants it. Fair point.

Well, I´m happy that Luísa is attending a Waldorf kindergarten here in Costa Rica, that she undoubtedly loves going to. She also loved the kindergarten in Brazil, but given the chance to stay home, she wouldn’t miss that. But now, I can even use school to make her ready to leave, I say: ¨As soon as you’re finished with that, we can go to school¨, and ready she gets.

Waldorf education is all about producing individuals ¨who are able, in and of themselves, to impart meaning to their lives¨, it’s about educating the whole child ¨head, heart and hands¨.

This is definitely out of traditional schooling, where there is absolutely no ¨heart¨ involved.

While traditional schooling is about making the individuals fit in the roles of existing paradigms (aka-getting jobs as soon as they are out of it), Waldorf is about preparing the children to be contributors members of society, care takers of OUR world.

For the present system it’s ok to have starvation and people left out of decent living standards.  We are obviously more concerned in producing more goods to sell than to take care of human beings without any profit involved.

I remember learning in my traditional school about Economy on how having 10% of an unemployment rate was an ok figure to handle. Something about having a good number of people needing jobs was good for the Economy. I remember studying all the wars. In traditional school, we learn to conform to all the scary shit going on and there is not much room to think differently. To pass the tests you have to memorize how things are the way they are.

Traditional schooling prepares people to fight in a competitive world, while alternative schooling is all about forming community.

We need to work together. And if Luísa can learn this in school, like she is learning now, then I’m happy about it.

In Luísa’s school, parents are invited to collaborate and choose an active role in the school. Parents are advised to meet and know the other families well, for them is vital to create a community around the children. It makes sense.

When children are respected and encouraged to think for themselves, they can become writers, scientists, socio-thinkers and all you can think and cannot think of. Try watching this 8-minute TED talk given by a 12-year old girl on ¨What adults can learn from kids¨ and you’ll be surprised at how far children can go when given support and a relevant education.

When school is good, it can stimulate children to reach their full potentials. It gives them space to develop their individuality, to think for themselves, to be problem solvers and ultimately to make the world a better place.