Saturday, 18 September 2010

PART 8: ALTERNATIVE EDUCATION

"Men had better be without education than be educated by their rulers; for this education is but the mere breaking in of the steer to the yoke; the mere discipline of the hunting dog, which by dint of severity is made to forego the strongest impulse of his nature, and instead of devouring his prey, to hasten with it to the feet of his master." - Thomas Hodgkins


"He that will not apply new remedies must expect new evils." - Roger Bacon


ONE of the main reasons people choose to become involved in political activity, is due to a growing concern towards the kind of world our children will be forced to inherit in the future. As opponents of private and state capitalism we would all like to see a new generation of young people become instilled with our own healthy values, but for a System which allows its moral and intellectual standards to be fixed by the mass society - so that individuality and non-participation are discouraged - this becomes a rather subversive demand. Are we fighting a losing battle or can we somehow ensure that our message of political, social and economic decentralisation is passed on to the youth of tomorrow?

It is our view that the political and economic objectives of the National-Anarchist Movement must be preceded by a spiritual revolution which begins in the hearts and minds of individuals and then spreads by example. If we cannot change ourselves, then we cannot ever expect to encourage others to share our worldview and thus help build alternatives to the present system. Furthermore, if we do not set an example to our children then we will inevitably lose them to the prevailing anti-culture of television game shows, abortion-on-demand, gangsta-rap, drug-addiction and conformist apathy. The only way that we can succeed, therefore, is by rejecting the system itself and making the education of our own youth a priority.

Ever since the second half of the nineteenth century and the gradual expansion of the proletariat, parents no longer have the task of educating their children and most are deposited into State-run or grant-maintained schools. But is it right that a mother who is opposed to wage-slavery and economic servitude should be thrust into the workplace whilst her children are indoctrinated by the very system that she and her spouse vigorously oppose? Of course not. Picture the scene as a fifteen year-old child is taught by her parents that hunter-gatherer societies on the periphery are being undermined by the exploitative fatcats at the industrial core. Before long, the same child is being informed by her teacher in the classroom that the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution are responsible for the betterment of society as a whole and that she must write an essay on Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations by next Tuesday. Short of marching up to the school every two or three days, to complain to the headmaster that a certain teacher is contradicting their beliefs, there is very little the child's parents can do in such a situation. The only alternative is for parents to take their children out of school completely and educate them at home.

According to one source, "there are two broad groups of home educators: those with a philosophy and those with a problem." But whilst many children are constantly exposed to bullying and various other problems, we should be primarily interested in how our children are developing ideologically. With the gradual decline of academic standards in modern society, many parents are exploring the option of home-schooling as a means of securing a sound education for their children. This idea is becoming very popular amongst religious groups, particularly Pagan and Muslim parents who have come to realise that the safest way of ensuring that their children receive an education based around their respective traditional and ethnic values, is to teach them first-hand. We must ensure that those of us with children make full use of this vital option.

Home-schooling is certainly not a new concept. After all, before the advent of schools or educational systems it was considered perfectly natural for parents to educate and nurture their own children, with many of them viewing it as a sacred task. Nowadays. many parents are waking up to the fact that whilst people vary and have different needs, the National Curriculum merely demonstrates how a bureaucratic educational system is unable to cater for all tastes. Indeed, all curricula are heavily steeped in propaganda and those parents who believe in independence and creativity are becoming anxious for their children to have an opportunity to explore an alternative set of political or spiritual issues. It is also a fact that the less we depend upon the institutions of the state, the more freedom we can have over our own lives.

Once you start exploring the options, you will discover that there are many self-help groups out there who can give you important advice about how to proceed. Few people are aware that home-schoolers do not have to follow the National Curriculum. In fact they do not have to take tests or exams, do not have to have a timetable, do not have to have a qualified tutor to teach them, do not have to work during the usual school hours and do not have to work any particular number of hours a week. Parents themselves can provide their own teaching syllabuses and materials, not least because in most countries the state refuses to give them any financial assistance. Whist this may suggest that home-schooling is a costly business, especially for working class folk, teaching materials are not really that expensive. There are a wide range of preparatory textbooks which can be ordered from libraries. Alternatively, second-hand bookshops can often enable you to pick up a variety of useful encyclopaedias and other basic study aids for very little cost. If several National-Anarchists living in one area wish to organise a teaching environment for their children, books, stationary and other resources can even be shared. The proposed environment can simply be a room in a National-Anarchist household, one which has been set aside for a blackboard, a small collection of educational literature and some painting, drawing and modelling materials.

Research has shown that many home-schooled children are two years ahead of those educated in schools and considerably more self-motivated. Parents are able to build up interesting programmes for their children using a wide range of sources, from selective school broadcasts on television to local museums. The choice extends to formal lessons, computer programmes, reading, playing, music, cooking, craftwork, sports and outdoor activities. Some parents may be concerned that home-schooling will result in their children being excluded from universities and colleges when they approach the official school-leaving age, due to the fact that it does not gear them towards tests and examinations. However, universities welcome application from home-schooled students and believe students educated primarily at home possess the passion for knowledge, independence and self-reliance that enables them to excel in intellectually challenging programmes of study. So schools will undoubtedly fade into the background as the whole community becomes a network of learning centres with people themselves taking full control of their family's education.

One argument used by the liberal opponents of home-schooling is that children raised in such an environment will somehow grow up 'sheltered' or 'socially naive'. However, this accusation can easily be refuted by pointing out that home-schooling essentially protects the innocence of childhood from the ravages of the mass society in which we find ourselves. Indeed, why shouldn't parents seek to defend their offspring from the trappings of liberal-capitalism? Another favourite contention put forward by those who favour mass educational methods relates to the issue of socialisation. But whereas children do need to socialise with other children, this is not the reason why they attend schools, anyway; schools should be there to educate children, not force them to adhere to a specific pattern of behaviour. Parents who home-school their children already ensure that their youngsters come into contact with other people through clubs, societies and associations. Home-schooling enables children to socialise within their own communities, rather than be subjected to the forced tyranny of the adolescent peer group. According to the March 1996 issue of Child Education magazine (p.68): "Several studies of home educated children have found that they have better social skills and are better socially adjusted than children of the same age who are educated at school. Home educated children tend to have more experience of relating to people who are both older and younger than themselves. In addition, they have had the particular benefit of learning through conversation and close personal contact. How often are children in a class of thirty or more listened to individually, talked to personally and praised and encouraged?" High praise indeed from a journal produced by the educational establishment!

If National-Anarchist parents are able to introduce their children to like-minded families in the same area it is possible to prevent ‘outsiders’ from having any influence upon their lives whatsoever. Indeed, by herding thirty or forty children of the same age group together in one room, schools inevitably create an artificial environment. This process hardly prepares young people for the harsh realities of life outside. In addition, the school is designed to turn youngsters into a ready-made workforce and far from acquainting them with their historical and cultural traditions, adopts a production-line approach in order to prepare them for the boring servility of the factory floor or the computer terminal. Parents feel that there is plenty of time to get to grips with the grim realities of boring, repetitive jobs. Indeed, they may choose home education because they do not want their children to accept such limitations. They may hope instead to foster resourcefulness and individuality which will prepare them for more adventurous, interesting lives.

Finally, many of us are already involved in such initiatives and, in the future, hope to build an alternative home-education network. The growing distrust parents have towards the incompetence of state schooling is a crack in the enemy's amour that is waiting to be exploited. Conscientious parents instinctively know that something is wrong with the system and are looking for a way out of it. Such people need our example and incentive, and there is no reason why National-Anarchists cannot become one of the leading proponents of home education. We must establish practical learning centres, where tools and equipment will be available for those who wish to borrow them; we must install alternative libraries where children can gain access to alternative books, tapes, films and exhibitions; we must create Community Centres to involve local people in sports activities, music, drama and social events; and we must set up family advice groups, where parents and children can meet up to discuss useful teaching methods and, if necessary, air potential problems or difficulties. In the meantime, if you are a parent who is unprepared to see your child force-fed a daily diet of 'political correctness' and 'positive discrimination', then you should seriously consider the educational alternatives which are gradually becoming available. We must never lose sight of the fact that our alternative future lies in its youth.

Further reading:
Terry Dowty (Ed.), Free Range Education: How Home Education Works, Hawthorn Press, 2000.
Education Otherwise, School is Not Compulsory: The Essential Introduction to Home-Based Education, EO, 2000.
John Holt, How Children Learn, Da Capo Press, 1995.
John Holt, How Children Fail, Da Capo Press, 1995.
John Holt & Pat Farenga, Teach Your Own: The John Holt Book of Homeschooling, Da Capo Press, 2003.
Richard North, Schools of Tomorrow: Education As if People Matter, Green Books, 1987.