Learning does not equal schooling

Now I have finished the last book that the Danish politician Bertel Haarder recommended me to read, when we interviewed him last year about homeschooling (https://homeschool.dk/interview-med-bertel-haarder-om-hjemmeundervisning/) and will make my comments on it in this post. To make a summary, the books recommended were:

  1. School is Dead, Everett Reimer, 1971.

You can read my thoughts on this book here: https://homeschool.dk/school-is-dead-alternatives-in-education-by-everett-reimer/

2. Hvis Skolen Ikke Fantes, Nils Christie, 1971.

This book can be found online in a free text version here: https://archive.org/stream/Christie1971HvisSkolenIkkeFantes/Christie%20%281971%29%20Hvis%20skolen%20ikke%20fantes_djvu.txt

This book was the least catchy of the three. Maybe because I could only get hold of it in Norwegian. It was hard to read.

It reflected on the change of living from craftsmanships and in small communities, to a massproducing society, where most of the population live in large cities.

It gave examples of how this has effected family life and motivation for learning. Moving from learning by doing, to learning in theory.

3. Deschooling Society, Ivan Illich, 1971.

This was my christmas present this year 🙂 I was so happy and have really enjoyed it. The author is a friend of Everett Reimer, who wrote “School is dead” and they agreed on many things regarding learning. They met in South America, where Ivan Illich worked as a vice rector of the Catholic University of Puerto Rico.

The book “Deschooling Society” is a critique of compulsory mass education. Ivan Illich argued that the oppressive structure of the school system, could not be reformed, but had to be dismantled in order to free humanity, from the crippling effects of lifelong institutionalization.

The book is more than a critique—it contains suggestions for a reinvention of learning throughout society and lifetime. Particularly striking is his call (in 1971) for the use of advanced technology to support “learning webs”.

While Illich never referred to himself as an anarchist in print, he was closely associated with major figures in left-anarchist circles, notably Paul Goodman and unschooling advocate John Holt.

If he had lived today, with the opportunities the internet gives us to find knowledge and peers, he would have been very disappointed, with how little the school systems around the world has changed.

He argues that institutionalization of values leads to a society with physical pollution, greater social equality and psychological impotence. How non-material needs is transformed into demands for consumer goods. When health, education, individual movement, welfare or psychological cure is defined as a result of public benefits or “treatments”.

School has become a religion. It is never questioned about it’s existence, and the acceptance of self-taught learning is very low. Expenses paid in most of the world to school education is growing, and when it isn’t working, more money is set in. We should concentrate on focused and self-motivated learning. The inequality between rich and poor is disproportionate, in how much schooling they receive from the state. And so many resources is wasted on pupils, that lack motivation.

If we could all have a kind of “resource bank” from where you could go when you were ready to learn something. Then everybody could have the access to a certain amount of learning. It could be learning from a person that had certain language skill, a neighbor in your area (Illich also talks about the move away from having local networks) or bringing a group of like minded people together, focused on a special area of learning.

This book seems like a follow up to “School is dead”. Where “School is dead” doesn’t really give any suggestions to other ways of organizing learning worldwide, but describes and talks about the faults of our present systems of learning, “Deschooling society” actually gives a number of ideas to how we could learn in a more constructive way.

We live in a society that believes in mass production, as if it were a religion, and that you can streamline values. That people only can learn in a specific environment and be judged as if they were all alike. We are fooled into believing that we are all given the same opportunities in life, and that it is our own fault, if we don’t succeed. So we learn our place in society and accept the situation. School has become so accepted, as a part of life that we happily hand over our precious children, to be institutionalized and brainwashed when they turn 1 year old, at the latest, because we believe “it is the best for them”. We no longer feel able to bring up our own children. We are not properly qualified. Do not have the right diplomas and schooling.

In an ideal world, I don’t believe there is another way, than our current learning system, that is the right one, but the answer is that there are many right ways of learning. That there should be the freedom to choose different ways to learn. To take responsibility of your own life and your childrens learning, by not blindly accepting the schooling way, but bringing up many alternatives to learn. It would give a much broader knowledge base in the population.

Read the books if you are interested. I found them very challenging and inspiring.

Visiting the Jewish Synagogue in Copenhagen 2019-01-14

We got the chance to take part in a visit to the Jewish Synagogue today, together with other homeschoolers. We always like to be a fly on the wall, in areas of the world, that we usually don’t have any experience with. It is not easy to get acces there. There has been high security ever since the attack on Sundag the 15th of February 2015 where a man was killed and several wounded. Since that, there has been armed soldiers outside the synagogue, patrolling the area. This is a very sad turn in Denmarks history, as we for so many years have praised our country for being safe, tolerant and inclusive.

The front of the Jewish Synagogue in Denmark.

First we had to go through the security, where we were led into a barred section, where the doors locked and then another door opened in the other end, and let us out into the synagogues area. There were more police patrolling and let us into the building. There we met a lovely lady, who were to be our lecturer. She told us about being a jew.

Security at the door.
Lovely lady telling us about being Jewish.
We even found a copy of our favorite lexicon and our favorite book in the series “Emotions and good behavior” in Hebrew.
We were told the story of the oil for 2 days that lasted 8 days. A miracle. The story behind the 8-armed candleholder.

After the lesson in Jewish traditions, we were taken into the synagogue. There we were shown the Torah and allowed to ask questions.

The synagogue inside.

All the men and boys had to wear a skullcap. Our son was not happy about being treated differently from his sisters.

Our son was allowed to point at the text in the Torah.

Let thy food be thy medicine.

In our homeschool food, eating food, making food and talking about food takes up a lot of our time. We are really compassionate about making food choices that benefit our bodies and minds. During the years, we have struggled with different health issues, and found that where the doctor could not help, or ordered medicine that was not a cure, but a symptom treatment, we would try in any way possible to improve our health the natural way. We have had so many great effects on our general health from making specific food choices, that has made the children aware of the effect of food on the body and mind.

An example of our lunch.

A really good book on the subject that we started out borrowing from the library, is “Spisebogen”. After reading this book and other studies, we made a project, where the children made a book where they cut out food from magazines and put into the book, with sections on all the different vitamins and minerals the body need and other vital needs, like water and fats.

This book has been a great inspiration to us.

We have read and talked about ways of choosing to eat. We have also tried many different diets and specifically The SCD diet has worked well for us (Specific Carbohydrate Diet). But we have also found that meat and fat in general does not sit wonderfully with us, so we mostly choose fish and lean chicken if we eat meat at all with a meal. We also eat glutenfree and have done for 6 years now. We don’t drink milk, as we can’t digest it. In general we try to choose foods that give as high nutrition as possible.

We hug vegetables.

We have found that what is the main way to keep healthy, is doing what you can to strengthen your immune system. So making sure you get as many vitamins, minerals and fats through your diet, as possible. But food is not enough. We also try to get fresh air and exercise every day. Positive thinking and trying to put yourself in other peoples shoes, is also a way to better health. We often read Louise Hay and she is a great inspiration to us. So is yoga and meditation.

DIY drawing lessons.

Today we started a new project, where I taught the children and a guest pupil to draw. It started with my oldest daughter attending a drawing class, that did not fulfill her ideas of learning to draw. She needed a more crafts approach and to start with the classical drawing skills.

I have attended a lot of drawing classes in the past and been drawing all my life, so it was something I really looked forward to give on to the next generation. The love of seeing things, how they really look.

The plan is to do 4 sessions of 3 hours, and focus on pencil and sketching.

We love playgrounds.

Going to playgrounds, has been a thing we have been enjoying, all during our home schooling years. We live in a country where there are just so many wonderful playgrounds. We live in a city where there are just such a great selection of playgrounds. New ones are build and old ones are rebuild. There are always new ones to explore. It is an absolutely amazing side to Copenhagen and Denmark in general. Denmark is wonderfully child friendly.

When I grew up just outside Copenhagen, in the countryside, there wasn’t any playgrounds. The nature was my playground. It was also wonderful. But it still makes me appreciate the selection of playgrounds I have available for my own children very much.

Well, what do you learn from going to playgrounds? First of all I would say it is physical exercise and getting out in the fresh air in a fun way. Often the playgrounds are also motorically challenging. The children can test their strength and abilities. They can compete and improve their skills from one visit to the next.

Often they have areas where you can build fantasy worlds and role play. Sometimes building blocks where you can build structures. The playgrounds available are just so different and when we visit a new one, we spend much time examining the opportunities that particular one has on offer.

Learning about math with play 2018-12-17

Sometimes learning comes about the strangest ways. When you have 4 children to look after at the busstop and there is a loooong time until the bus will arrive, it can help to distract them with math or other subjects. Most often these situations just develop on their own, because the children ask all sorts of questions. This started with him asking about the answer to a calculation.

We love the Library

Vanløse library.

We love going to the library. We go to the library at least once a week. We visit different libraries. Have favorite ones. Our oldest daughter even has asked to have her birthday in one particular library a few times, which is her favorite. A library is a place with peace, where time stands still and you can indulge in all the knowledge available. Danish libraries often are just so much more than books, so if a child is more into playing with toys or at the playground, the libraries we go to even have those options. So everyone is happy. You can sit and read a book aloud for a child. Examine a subject together. Sit and write a story on your computer. Go listen to music. Often they also have plays, lectures and much more. Sometimes we meet up with friends in libraries and rest and talk together. We really love libraries.

Gladsaxe library.
AU Library, Emdrup.

Christmas table cloth with memories 2018-12-12

Finally we got on with making a Christmas table cloth, as a family project. I wanted to make a memorable cloth, that the children every year made a personal appliqué, which we would sew onto the cloth. So this year we got started. I am so looking forward to eat on it Christmas eve.

The children learned about design, shape, vlisofix, application technique, cutting out, size and how to use the iron and the sewing machine.
Seeing your design turn into a real thing.
Focused children at work. Working out their designs and finding out how to build up an applique.