|December 10, 1989||Volume 1 Number 4|
What Is A Proper School?
Our research has taught us that each human consciousness is a vulnerable and delicate system, far more vulnerable and delicate than we had ever imagined. Human beings, like all living organisms, have very specific requirements if they are to thrive and grow. This is evident everywhere in nature-including all plant and animal life. Human beings, because of their more sophisticated mental apparatus, are the most volatile living creatures of all, with very strict limitations on what they can tolerate before the survival of their systems is threatened and their systems begin to break down.
Modern education has failed to recognize children as living, breathing human beings. Proponents of this system have concluded that children can be subjected to unlimited amounts of public humiliation, psychological threat and punishment. They have concluded that children can be separated from their parents and families at any age and that children can be force-fed unlimited amounts of data that has, for the most part, no direct bearing on children's lives.
In this article, we will attempt to outline what we have learned about the criteria for a proper school. We have based our criteria on our research and on what we have learned about the limitations and requirements of each human consciousness. These criteria are the essential elements required of any educational environment that is consistent with the natural needs and learning systems of all human organisms.
In describing the elements of a proper school, we are in no way trying to suggest that the current educational system can be improved. As we have said before, our research indicates that the current system cannot be improved, nor does it need improvement. This system was designed to break human beings down; strip them of all their own natural interests, goals and destinies. It was intended to destroy the human consciousness and turn children into passive, empty, willing factory workers. The educational system performs this intended function flawlessly and it has fulfilled its mission perfectly.
Furthermore, all research, including the research the educational system has done on itself, indicates that the current educational system is founded on completely incorrect ideas about how human beings learn and grow. Yet, proponents of this system have failed to respond to their own research by altering the system in any way. The ideas upon which the current educational system is based are so inherently negative and reflect so little regard for human life that all the current system can do is inflict one violation after another on each and every child. Proponents of this system claim that education can only be improved by increasing the amount of homework being given, tightening up on disciplinary measures, starting children in school at younger ages, keeping children in school for more hours and, of course, increasing teachers' salaries. Their idea of improving the system is to do more of the same things that are destroying children and causing the system to fail, and paying themselves more money to do so. And, what is even more alarming is that the previously-educated parents have been so damaged by this system that they believe educators are right!
Given these facts, we know beyond any reasonable doubt that the current educational system cannot, under any circumstances, be improved. What we are attempting to describe in this article is a completely different learning system, one that exists outside the current system and that cannot be implemented into the existing educational structure. Some readers who still insist that the current educational system can be improved may mistakenly conclude that they can extract an element or two out of what we have described and apply that element into the existing educational structure. Our research shows that the following criteria are essential ingredients, required in order to establish a proper school. Leaving out any one of these criteria will endanger the physical, mental and emotional well-being of any child exposed to the system. Leaving out any one of these criteria is the same thing as saying that you are going to build a car, but are going to leave out the steering mechanism or the brakes. In either case, you will be building a dangerously inadequate vehicle. Human beings, especially children, are more fragile and limited than most people can possibly imagine. Our research shows that if any of these criteria for establishing a proper school is omitted, then human beings exposed to the system will be harmed, no matter how well-intentioned those involved in the system might be.
It must be said here that people do not need to hold doctoral degrees in order to set up a proper school. In fact, people do not need to hold degrees or diplomas of any kind to be qualified and capable of setting up a proper school. History has already demonstrated that many of the greatest contributions to humanity have come from uneducated people. Abraham Lincoln obviously did not need a Master's degree in history to write the Gettysburg Address. The Declaration of Independence, probably the greatest single document in the history of humanity, was not composed by Ph.D's. (although there are many Ph.D's. throughout the world today who are still studying and trying to understand this one single document.)
The criteria for establishing a proper school are extremely simple and very practical. In fact, a proper school environment would be so practical and so reality-oriented that most people who have been educated in the current system would be incapable of functioning in such an environment. Since the more educated a person becomes the more dysfunctional he or she becomes, it might he that the less formal an education one has obtained, the more likely that one will be able to work in a reality-oriented, proper school setting. While many more volumes of information could be written about how to design and run a proper school, we are listing only the most basic elements here, with only a brief description of each. Very few people are yet in a place where they can use this information. We are giving it in order to respond to readers' requests for this data and because we think these "seed" ideas might have some value in a future society.
Principles of Natural Reality
These criteria for a proper school are based on principles of natural reality--not on teacher convenience. Educated people have been conditioned to accept and even favor the conditions of convenience over the principles of natural reality. Most people will dismiss the criteria set forth in this newsletter as useless and irrelevant. Once educated, people can no longer find value in natural reality. It is more valuable and convenient for parents to send their children to school and let their children be destroyed than it is for parents to do something about changing the economic and political systems that now force them to take advantage of the baby-sitting aspects of school.
The human consciousness, however, was not designed to be convenient. It is not an easy-going, flexible, rubbery substance that can be shaped and formed to meet the whims and unrealistic expectations of parents, teachers or political leaders. The human consciousness is very limited and has very strict, inconvenient requirements that cannot be violated without causing it harm.
It is so ironic that what educators and parents have decided is a convenient system turns out to be so grossly inconvenient and inefficient. An educational system that could teach children all the basic skills in three to five years takes twelve to fourteen years. What is even more alarming is that by the time a person is done with this system, the consciousness is so deteriorated that much of the knowledge that was imparted has been lost.
Criteria For A Proper School
I. Children Will Not Be Allowed To Start School Until They Are At Least Nine Years Old.
In natural reality, young children under the age of nine are not ready to engage in the mental activity required to learn reading, writing or mathematics. Studies of human brain development, as well as natural reality, verify this fact. The readiness of a child to learn to read or write is easily determined and is usually a function of the child expressing personal interest in these mental activities--which is not a result of a parent or teacher's direction.
Children under approximately nine years of age are not ready to leave their parents and families. Forcing children to separate from their parents prematurely causes the permanent breakdown of the nuclear family structure, a subject which is discussed at length in newsletter Number 3. The fact that children are starting school at younger and younger ages, and that the current economic system is forcing parents to leave their children in day-care centers (day orphanages) from early infancy, is creating a generation of orphaned children who have not been able to establish proper mental and emotional relationships with their parents.
Parents in America are now using a system of "Push Aways" to deal with their children. Some parents begin flashing word and number cards at their children in infancy, before their children can even talk. These flash cards, and all similar "learning devices," are "Push Aways" that literally push the child away from the parent emotionally at a time when children and parents are by nature being pulled together emotionally.
Similarly, most preschool day-care programs, including Operation Headstart, act as "Push Aways" that literally push the parent away from the child during the time when the parent and child are, by nature, still bonding. Because parents and teachers have been educated, they can no longer see that, in natural reality, when children are ready to leave their parents, children push themselves away. They do not need to be pried away from their parents under conditions of emotional duress. Children naturally reach a point in their own development when they are ready to take their place in the culture. Human beings are not endemically stupid, irresponsible, disinterested, unmotivated blobs without internal self-regulating mechanisms, as educators would want us to think.
Parents in our society use "Push Aways," in part, out of insecurity. Parents, because they have been educated, want to make sure that their children get an "early start" in the race to the top of the class. They want to make sure that their children are as filled up with useless data, prematurely, as all the other children on the block. Parents do these things because in the process of being educated all their own natural instincts toward their children have been destroyed, so they have no ability left to see their children as those children actually exist in natural reality.
Because teachers cannot possibly relate to twenty or more children at a time, they also teach children a full array of dysfunctional behaviors that are regimentation-oriented, and which promote protracted quiet uniformity.
In the course of our research, we also found that when children are exposed to the current educational system before the age of nine, they develop a schizoid split in the personality structure. Before children are exposed to schooling, they live in a natural reality. Even if their reality is burdened with economic difficulties and family problems, children are still with their parents and they are not being subjected to the psychological violence and hostility of classroom life. When children enter school, they enter a non-reality oriented, conditioned existence. Children are forced, under extreme mental and emotional duress, to conform to this conditioned existence which fails to recognize their individual needs, goals, feelings, interests, gifts or personal destinies.
In order to handle the enormous gap between what they once knew as reality and the hostile conditioned existence of classroom life, children begin to stretch themselves out. Children must stretch themselves out in order to manage the premature separation from parents through an act of betrayal on the part of the parents; the lack of emotional investment and the general disinterest found among educators; the premature introduction of disconnected subject matter; and the hostile environment of classroom life, which includes the constant threat of public humiliation and the ongoing humiliation of being continuously graded.
Each year the child's consciousness becomes more stretched out and elongated in an attempt to survive classroom life. Finally, at around nine years of age, the mental apparatus in the consciousness matures in the way that a human being's physical reproductive apparatus matures at puberty. When this mental apparatus turns on, it overloads the already stretched out consciousness and causes the consciousness to split itself off into two discreet personalities. This split occurs much in the same way that the process of cell division takes place.
The secondary personality structure becomes the dominate personality, and could accurately be described as the school personality, because it was formed specifically to survive the experience of school life. Most parents readily recognize this alternate personality in their children as being very different from the personality of the child they once knew before the child started school. This secondary personality does not drop away upon graduation from high school, nor does it ever merge with the natural, primary personality. It remains a permanent part of the consciousness and usually overrides the instincts, interests and goals of what would have been the natural character and personality of the individual.
Because the secondary school personality was developed in order to survive the non-reality oriented existence of the typical classroom, the school personality has been trained to act against itself. It has been trained to ignore obvious physical reality in favor of a system that requires children to memorize huge quantities of useless, unrelated data. It has been trained to accept extremely unnatural circumstances, to forego all personal satisfaction and to relinquish any hope of ever fulfilling the natural destiny of the consciousness. These personalities are perfectly trained to work at jobs they hate and to marry people they do not even like. They are trained to work in crowded cities, breathe polluted air and drink contaminated water without raising any protest.
Our research shows that there is no form of psychotherapy, medication, or new age technology that can alter or purge a consciousness of a secondary school personality. Any one who claims to be able to do so is talking out of their own non-reality oriented secondary structure. These structures cannot be altered by any conventional means. In fact, once a secondary personality is developed and the person begins to live by acting against himself or herself, it is almost impossible to teach that educated person to act in his or her own best interests.
Some psychotherapists have mistakenly concluded that these secondary personalities are merely adaptive behaviors. But, if the psychotherapists would look more closely, they will see that what we are describing is not merely a behavioral adaptation to school life. Before the onset of the secondary personality, most children go through a depression which lasts anywhere from ten days to three or four months, depending on the child. This occurs sometime between the end of the second grade and the end of the third grade. Parents, educators and psychotherapists often notice "mood swings" in the child and may conclude that the child is having "growing pains." It is at this point that the permanent, secondary personality emerges. Psychologists and psychiatrists who call this phenomenon a [... sentence incomplete].
If parents waited until children were at least nine before separating from them and sending them to school, the children would not develop a schizoid behavior system. They would have had the necessary time to form a coherent and solid personality structure that would be capable of managing the non-reality oriented and hostile onslaught of classroom life without developing a second personality. Once character and a coherent personality structure have had time to develop in a human being, you can expose it to a lot more distress without that structure being harmed.
Now, we have four full generations of schizoid people who have developed a second unnatural, non-reality oriented personality in response to the distress of school, which, once developed, remains permanent and usually overrides what was once the natural personality. It appears that by the third generation, the destruction of the human consciousness in American society was complete. So while people now have this information available to them, they can no longer do anything to stop the current educational process from continuing the mass destruction. The effects of this are everywhere. Even officials in charge of this nation's armed forces are saying that enlisted men and upcoming officers do not have any interest or ability to learn what men and women need to know in order to adequately protect their country. The last of the third generation of armed service people who still offered some quality of service have retired, and this new generation--the fourth generation of educated servicemen and women--are too severely damaged to fill their shoes. While there are exceptions to this as well as everything else we have said, the exceptions are too rare to make any difference.
II. No Child Will Be Exposed To More Than Two To Three Hours Of Formal Instruction Every Day.
Education as defined by Webster is "the process of training and developing knowledge, skill, mind, character, etc." Education as defined by educators means "to pound into; to beat into; to hammer into." Each human consciousness is limited as to how much data it can lake in at any given time. Some people must take in data slowly. Others take in data very quickly. In fact, some people cannot get information to come at them fast enough. Some people need a long time between lessons to absorb data. Some people absorb data quickly and require only a short time. All of this is obvious in natural reality.
Educators, who do not operate in natural reality, think that all people are the same. They think that the more hours they spend pounding data into children in a day, the more those children will earn. Research studies clearly show that this is not true. In fact, research that has been done by the educational system on itself clearly demonstrates that memorization is the least efficient method of communicating knowledge. The fact that most of us cannot remember even 1% of what we memorized in school is a testimony to this fact.
Our research shows that human beings have a saturation point as to how much data can be taken in at any given time. Most human beings cannot take in more than two to three hours of formal instruction in any given day without breaking down. When people attempt to take in data past their saturation point, the consciousness begins to break down. People begin to lose previously acquired data. Furthermore, our research showed that the more a person tried to study a subject he or she was not interested in studying, the less he or she could remember about that subject.
Educators think they can pound subject matter into children for 5 or 6 hours a day without paying any attention to a child's saturation point or whether or not the child has any inherent interest in the subject in the first place. Because this system of imparting knowledge causes children to both lose data and break down mentally, it now takes educators 12 to 14 years to impart the same amount of knowledge that could be taught in 3 to 5 years. And, even after 12 to 14 years, studies show that up to 30 and even 40 percent of this system's own graduates cannot even pass a high school equivalency test.
III. Classes Will Be Limited To Five Students Or Less
In today's classrooms, teachers are asked to interact with twenty children or more. Under these conditions, teachers cannot possibly establish proper, healthy mental-emotional relationships with the children in their care. Even the most well-meaning human beings are incapable of properly relating to more than five children at a time. Most parents with three or more children know how hard it is to respond to the needs of three children even under the most ideal circumstances.
Teachers are parent substitutes. As the only adults in the environment, teachers are very important to children. A child's relationship with his or her teacher is usually the single most important aspect of classroom life. Most educators recognize this fact. However, educators use their position in the classroom to overpower, threaten and frighten children into conforming to classroom life.
Children must rely on parents and parent-substitutes to teach them the socialization skills they will need to get along in life. Children learn how to establish healthy mental-emotional relationships by establishing such relationships with the adults in their immediate environment. Because teachers cannot possibly relate to twenty or more children, an emotional distance is always created between the all-important teacher and the child. In this setting, teachers promote emotional isolation in children, which is a completely dysfunctional behavior. Because teachers cannot possibly relate to twenty or more children at a time, they also teach children a full array of dysfunctional behaviors that are regimentation-oriented, and which promote protracted, quiet uniformity.
After being exposed to the dysfunctional behaviors of classroom life for even a short period of time, children bring these behaviors home and apply them to their relationship with their parents. They attempt to maintain a relationship of significance with their parents, while being involved all day long in a relationship of no consequence with a teacher. By the time most school children are seven to seven-and-a-half years of age, many parents start to notice that the relationship they had established with their child when the child was four or five has somehow broken down, and the responses that the child has toward the parent begin to reflect the emotional isolation and disassociation of the behaviors endemic to classroom life. The most noticeable characteristic is that children tend to become less talkative. Children begin to perceive their parents as another non-relating authority figure.
In a proper school, no teacher would be expected to relate to more than five students at any given time. Children would be allowed to choose their teachers, and teachers would only be allowed to work with those children whom they honestly liked and enjoyed being with. Children have great difficulty learning anything from an adult who does not like them. Children just cannot overcome the negative feelings that some teachers have toward them. Any professional tennis player who naturally possesses great athletic gifts can tell you that it is very difficult to overcome their coaches--even when their coaches really like them. The natural interest of many a budding artist and musician has been killed in the process of development by a music instructor or art teacher who did not like him or her.
Children desperately need to be in the presence of interested adults in order to thrive mentally and emotionally. Psychological studies clearly show that the people who do the best in adult life are almost always the people who had a parent or some other adult in their lives who was intensely interested in them. This fact can also be confirmed by reading the biographies of famous homeschoolers from George Washington to Margaret Mead. In order to provide children with the most optimal conditions for healthy mental and emotional development, children should never be exposed to a learning situation in which there are more than five children to each adult in the environment.
We must also note that no one would be allowed to teach in a proper school who had not developed themselves as competent in the physical world. Most educators today are completely lacking in any physical world skills. Many cannot change the oil in their cars or fix a leaky faucet in their homes. Most cannot repair a window in the classroom if it breaks, nor do they know how to shut off the electricity at the main panel in a school emergency. These educators pass on all their own ignorance, incompetence and disinterest in the physical world to every student they claim to teach.
In a proper school, a teacher would have to openly demonstrate his or her competence in the physical world. Teachers would have to know how to build things and fix the things that surround them and which they use every day. Any teacher who had to call the school custodian to fix a broken desk would be immediately fired. An art teacher would not be allowed near the students unless he or she had demonstrated enough artistic ability to have his or her own art show. Similarly, a music teacher could only qualify to teach music to children by having earned a seat in a symphony orchestra.
IV. All Classes Will Be Geared To The Needs Of The Individual Child, Not To The Convenience Of The Teacher.
In a proper school, there are no time schedules. Some children who like to rise early in the morning might go to school from 8 to 10 a.m., while others with different biological clocks might go to school in mid-afternoon. Many basic skills would be learned through the use of the computer, so that children could proceed through subjects at their own pace without the interference of an outside instructor, unless specific help was requested.
Human beings obviously learn at different rates. Educators punish people with failing grades, and reward those who are able to learn quickly and who have a good memory. In a proper school, two people might start the same task at the same time. One person might master the subject in two hours because of certain unique abilities and interests in that subject. Another might take two months to master the same subject. But that is reality. Some people learn things faster than others, depending on the tasks and a person's natural ability, interests and gifts. The fact that one person learns something faster than another person has nothing to do with the quality of a human being or what someone will or will not do with their lives. For example, take Sam Jones [name changed to a fictitious name]. Sam was a pretty smart kid. He started reading when he was 3. He graduated from high school at 15 and from college at 17. By the time he was 20, he had earned himself a Master's degree and went to work on Wall Street in the stock market. Sam Jones sat around negotiating deals faster than any broker on Wall Street. Through his efforts, he helped engineer the crash of 1987 with the 350% oversold stock market. Incidentally, the crash had almost no effect on Big Sam Jones. He still sits around negotiating stock deals, earning $600,000 a year.
On the other end of the learning spectrum, there is Abe. Abe was slow in all subject areas. His parents were a little concerned about him, but they were so busy with their daily chores that they did not have time to worry too much. Abe did not really learn how to read until he was 15, and he did not really start making a contribution to the world until, at the age of 25, he was elected to the Illinois State Legislature. He was elected to Congress at the age of 34; and at 51, he became the 16th President of the United States. Now, Abe had no high school diploma, no college education and no law degree. Yet, Abe helped to change the destiny of the world. Abe could not memorize the Gettysburg Address--a speech written by one of the slowest students in the history of education, which only the "best" students recite before audiences today. So what should we do? Should we take back all those things that have been said and written about Abraham Lincoln because he was a slow learner and could not pass his high school equivalency?
Most parents would say that they would much prefer to produce little Abe Lincolns. But, they go about it by placing their children in a system that only places value on Little Sam Jones'. Neither parents nor educators realize that Sam Jones is the exception--not Abe Lincoln. The majority of human beings do not thrive in school, do not have perfect memories and do not learn at the pace and in the way that Sam Jones learns. The majority of human beings learn best in the way that Abraham Lincoln learned--at his own pace, guided by his own personal interests. In fact, the only way to insure the destiny of any human being is in a learning environment that allows a child to learn at his or her own pace, to follow his or her own interests and to be free of punishment and grading. Lincoln had no "permanent" record, no grades and nothing to show that he was qualified to become President and change the face of history.
Incidentally, Sam Jones is not a very happy man. He works long hours and leads a fast-track kind of life. He does, however, look forward every month to his subscription to "Scientific American," which he reads with great excitement and some sadness. You see, when he reads this magazine, deep down inside, Sam gets the feeling that he has missed the boat.
Sam loves biology. He really likes to probe into the nature of things. But, because Sam Jones was educated past the third grade in the current system, all of Sam's natural interests in biology were stripped away. All Sam can do now is probe the nature of the junk bond market. Instead of finding new ways to increase crop production as a biologist, he can only increase stock yields. All Sam can do is shadow what he really came here to do. Big Sam Jones, child prodigy, who could read at three, is about as empty as any human being can be. The fact that he graduated Summa Cum Laude has done nothing to insure the quality of Sam's life or to set him on a course of improving himself or the world. Sam may die with assets in the millions, but he will not be able to fill up the emptiness in his life, because he has not been able to fulfill his own personal destiny.
Many parents will read this information and conclude that any school that would cater to the individual needs of each child and would respect the individual learning capacities of each child could only produce a generation of "spoiled" children. Having been educated, parents have come to the false conclusion that if you properly support a child, respond to a child's interests and provide a child with all the things that human beings need in order to grow and thrive, then surely you will ruin that child. Nothing could be further from the truth. Children are being ruined every day in a system that fails to recognize the obvious fact that children are human beings with specific needs and unique interests and goals.
Parents who are afraid of "spoiling" their children have been harmed by the educational system in a way that causes them to want to pass the same harm on to their children. So when Jimmy Jones tells his parents that he wants to learn to play the piano, his parents refuse to help him by buying a piano. They tell him that while they can afford to buy a piano, the living room is too small for a piano. Jimmy's parents advise him to try playing the flute because he could learn to enjoy the flute just as much as the piano.
Education blocks children from getting what they need and want. Educated, damaged parents consciously and unconsciously block their children from getting what they need and want. In natural reality, the only thing parents can do for their children is help them to pursue their own natural interests and follow their own instinctive way. There is nothing else that a parent can give a child. In natural reality, parents who could afford to do so would knock out a wall in their house if they had to in order to bring in a piano, if a child expressed a sincere interest in learning to play.
V. No Subject Will Be Taught Out Of Context. All Subjects Must Have A Direct Bearing On A Child's Life, And Be Directly Related To Reality.
One way that people could decide on a curriculum for a proper school is to make a list of all the things that a human being would need to know in order to thrive as a healthy, functioning adult in society. A school curriculum should be designed to provide each child with as many of these skills as possible. In making such a list, people would need to know that the human consciousness gets its orientation from interaction with the environment in reference to its own personal survival. In our opinion, many modern conveniences found in people's homes have actually damaged people by further disconnecting them from reality. Most people do not know, for example, how an oil burner works, how oil is processed or how heat is dispersed throughout the house. People only know that if they turn the dial on the thermostat in the right direction, heat comes into the room. The same thing is true about electrical heat. When educated people turn on the heat, they have no connection to where the heat is coming from.
If people knew something about oil, oil burners, electricity and heating systems in general, using these modern conveniences would not be harmful. For most electricians and people who install and repair oil burners, electric and oil heat are not destructive, because these people know what is happening behind the house walls and in the basement to cause the heat to come into the room. We are not suggesting that everyone except electricians and oil burner repair people should heat with wood or coal-burning stoves, or some other form of heat that would cause them to have to interact with their surroundings. However, we are suggesting that a curriculum for a proper school should consider how human beings orient themselves. Children should be able to learn enough about electricity and oil burners so that using modern conveniences does not disconnect them from physical reality.
The ideas upon which the current educational system is based are so inherently negative and reflect so little regard for human life that all the current system can do is inflict one violation after another on each and every child.
Most educational curricula were developed out of the idea that one should seek the "good life," and were modeled after the educational programs designed for the early Greek and Roman aristocracy. When Americans and other Western societies decided to seek the good life, people concluded that make-up, eye shadow, designer clothes, servants and a room at the Plaza Hotel were more important than heating systems. The "good life" is really the life of an idealist, or of someone who is borderline retarded and needs to be cared for in a specialized way. People aspire to the "good life" now because the "good life" is all that is left for them once their own wants, gifts, needs and dreams have been destroyed by the educational system.
The curriculum of a proper school, must also reflect the things that a person would need to know in order to thrive and prosper in the unique community and area of the country in which they live. In addition to providing children with skills in basic subjects such as reading, writing, mathematics, money management, tax law, house construction, automobile repair and plumbing, a proper school must also provide children with all the skills they need to properly integrate into the culture of their community.
For example, if a school is located in a community that does not have its own hospital and does not have easy access to medical care, then the "core curriculum" of that school must involve courses in personal health care and emergency medical treatment. If a school is located in a mining town, then courses in mining engineering and safety must be taught. In a farming community, courses in agriculture, including the maintenance and repair of farm equipment, must be taught.
If a school is located in a city, then courses in the "core curriculum" must provide knowledge of the dynamics of city life. Children would need to learn various forms of self-protection and street-life combat training, including child "militia" training for after-school life. Children must be taught how to take advantage of the cultural and economic aspects of city life so that by the time students are ready for graduation, they are well integrated into the culture of their own community.
Among cities, the culture of Boston is very different from the culture of New Orleans. Both of these are very different from the culture of Los Angeles. The function of each school, regardless of its location, would be to encourage every child's natural inclination to survive and prosper in the culture in which they live. To this end, no educational stone should be un-turned. Anything short of this must be considered a complete failure as an educational institution, and an institution that is destructive by its very nature.
Some readers might argue that integrating a child into a community is not necessary; that this country is a mobile society and that many children will not remain in the community in which they were schooled once they reach adult life. While this is true, our description of a proper school and the need to integrate a child into community life remains valid. Helping children establish themselves in a community is a way of helping them develop the connections with physical world reality which they will need in order to thrive in adult life. Once established, these connections and the knowledge of how to integrate oneself into community life remain a permanent part of the consciousness.
VI. No Child Will Ever Be Graded (A Pass-No Pass System Could Be Used Until People Learned To Measure Accomplishment In The Observable Quality Of A Person's Work.)
In a proper school, grading from anyone outside of oneself would be strictly forbidden. The damaging effects of grading (or degrading as it would more accurately be called) have been discussed throughout these newsletters. In natural reality, the only way that human beings can possibly benefit from a system of grading is to grade oneself and never allow one person to inflict a grade on another, even if that grade is an "A." It does not matter whether a child (or an adult for that matter) receives all "A's" or all "F's" in any grading system. If the grade comes from outside of oneself, the grading system, by its nature, will cause harm by forcing the person being graded into a system of operating that places more importance on how others feel about a person or perceive or judge a person than on how a person feels about or evaluates himself. Anyone who has attended school past the third grade has lived with this vulnerability--being vulnerable to employers, supervisors and anyone in authority, even if those in authority are people whom you dislike and do not respect.
The only way for human beings to escape the often torturous vulnerability is to evaluate themselves. The way it works at the Gentle Wind School is that as soon as a person knows how to do something, that person grants him or herself an "A". He does so by the power vested in himself by himself. No other grades are used, because all other grades ("B" through "Z") register as failure in the human consciousness, no matter what anyone says about good, average, and so forth. Besides, you either know how to do something or you do not. When you do not know how to do something, you are not ready for a grade. It is so ludicrous to see teachers grading students while they are in the process of learning. Imagine an employer who hired someone to do a job, and while the person was learning the job, the employer graded the new employee every 45 minutes. It is hard to believe even educators could be so ridiculous as to grade students while they are in the process of learning to read or write or do math. It is bad enough that educators inflict grades on students; you would think they would at least have the common sense to wait until the student has learned the subject, instead of trying to impede students along the way.
If you can do something, you get an "A." You give it to yourself the moment you can do it. You do not keep going over the same material over and over again. Remember studying for a test? You reviewed the same material for days, and sometimes weeks. Often, by the time you took the test, you forgot it all because the more you study something you already know, the more you lose that information.
Because most people have been so programmed into looking for a grade, we would suggest that using a "pass - no pass" system might be necessary as an interim kind of system. A "pass - no pass" system does not damage the human consciousness in the way that grading from "A" to "F' does. In a "pass - no pass" system, a "no pass" just lets a person know what he or she is going to have to do in order to pass.
An interim system may be necessary until people can regain a more natural learning system and a more appropriate way of evaluating a person's work based on the quality of the work. Medical school students, for example, would be required to demonstrate, through the quality of their work, whether or not they were capable of practicing medicine, as would lawyers, engineers and so forth. Educated people are not trained to look at the quality of a person's work. They are trained only to notice the letters after a person's name (M.A., M.S., Ph.D.) and the name of the school that granted his or her title. There was a time when an eighth grade education was enough because education was still relevant to everyday life. Today, people are using the wrong standards. A high school diploma is not enough. A Bachelor of Arts degree is no longer enough. A Master's degree is no longer enough. In fact, now a Ph.D. is no longer enough. Now people need a post-doctoral Master's degree.
In a proper learning system, no one would be granted grades, report cards, diplomas or degrees. The only standard for judging a man or woman's ability and competence is in whether or not that person can demonstrate the necessary degree of skill in physical world reality. The proper way to evaluate what a person has learned is no mystery to crafts people in Third World nations who take on apprentices. It was no mystery to people in this nation 100 years ago. It is no mystery to plumbers, auto mechanics, carpenters, electricians, welders, or boat builders today. A person either has the skill to perform a given task or he does not, and that is the only standard that a proper school based in natural reality can use to evaluate the learning of any student.
VII. Children Will Attend School For Three To Five Years. They Then Will Go Out Into The World And Pursue A Field Of Interest.
Throughout this series of newsletters, we have written about the fact that young men and women are ready to enter adult life somewhere between the ages of twelve to fourteen years. This reality is difficult for people in educated societies to perceive because schools take young people who are ready to go out into the adult world and launch them right back into childhood. Education has turned American adolescents into empty, immature, emotional wrecks.
By not treating twelve to fourteen-year-olds as fully functioning adults, capable of having and raising children of their own, this educational system has interrupted natural logical occurrence. In doing so, education has betrayed humanity. It has taught young adults to believe that they are better off investing in their eye shadows than they are in following their natural instincts to bear and raise children, and to take their place in the world.
It only takes three to five years to prepare a child for adult life. Most homeschooling parents can readily see that their twelve to fourteen-year-olds are capable of passing any high school equivalency test. Homeschooled children are not all exceptional children with great mental gifts. The reason that homeschooled students are ready to take a high school equivalency at the onset of puberty is that they have not had to take the same English course for seven straight years or the same American history course for eight years in a row. What is even more interesting is that homeschooled students, who spend far less time (about 1/3) doing schoolwork than their public school counterparts, seem to be doing as well and in many areas much better.
In a proper school, each and every student would be required to develop a marketable skill before a certificate of completion could be issued. A marketable skill represents competence to the human consciousness. Young adults who are ready to go out into the world must be able to bring competency out into the world with them.
A marketable skill might include printing, cabinetmaking, boatbuilding, basketweaving, or pottery. Repairing vacuum cleaners, toasters or electronics gear are marketable skills. For some people, a marketable skill might be something as simple as shining shoes. Most high school graduates today do not know how to properly shine a pair of shoes. Anyone who does shine shoes can tell you that in order to do a consistently perfect job, you may need to shine hundreds of shoes before you get it right.
There are other skills such as cooking which, while very valuable, do not produce the effect of competence in the human consciousness because they are something that everyone should know how to do. Picking up garbage and raking the lawn are useful skills, but like cooking, they do not produce competence in the consciousness. Sewing, on the other hand, as long as it includes pattern making, does represent a marketable skill.
In learning a marketable skill, a student must feel that he or she has developed a discrete capacity which reflects some personal interest at the time. The skill may even be something the child's mother or father likes to do, which would suffice as long as that skill could be expressed out in a way that would be qualified as marketable. Young Geraldine, for example, might learn how to repair farm equipment from her father. If she can do it well enough to support herself with that skill, she has fulfilled the requirement. Geraldine might later decide to go to law school and become a corporate lawyer, but she will take the experience of competence with her into her adult life.
Our research shows that human beings must develop the experience of competence by the time they are approximately twelve years of age. This process occurs somewhat automatically in less developed societies. Young boys and girls are taught to fish and hunt for food, build shelters and make clothing (all of which produce competence in the consciousness) as a natural part of growing up. A hundred years ago, most people were still learning how-to make things and fix things by watching their parents, and therefore were developing marketable skills in the course of their survival. With the introduction of modern education, and this system's insistence on imparting useless knowledge, children in this society start school at five and exit school at the age of eighteen without developing a single marketable skill. In fact, in this system, a person can go all the way through college and get a doctoral degree without developing a marketable skill.
Another way of looking at this is to observe what is happening to adolescents in this society, particularly in junior high schools. Most teachers and school administrators realize that something happens to students when they get to junior high school. They become more angry, aggressive and difficult to control. Drug and alcohol abuse become more common. What teachers and school administrators are not looking at is the fact that these students are ready to launch themselves out into the adult world, and these students are realizing they have been rendered incompetent. They are discovering that they cannot do anything. When human beings first discover this, they hurt inside, and that hurt does not go away. When people hurt, they take drugs, drink alcohol and do other things to try to ease their pain. Human beings need to develop real skill and they need to be challenged. Educators think that a challenge is created when they increase the amount of useless, unrelated data bits that students are required to memorize. But the human consciousness is only challenged by something that yields a tangible, physical result such as building a boat or repairing a car engine. How many junior high school students do you think would be taking drugs, vandalizing schools and beating each other up if they had something real and satisfying (like woodworking, carpentry, plumbing, welding, photography, electronics) to do with their time? What do you think would happen to teenage suicide rates if educators were required to provide each student with a marketable skill in some area of personal interest.
By the time most school children are seven to seven-and-a-half years of age, many parents start to notice that the relationship they had established with their child when the child was four or five has somehow broken down, and the responses that the child has toward the parent begin to reflect the emotional isolation and disassociation of the behaviors endemic to classroom life.
If this critical stage in human development passes without a person obtaining a marketable skill, that person cannot establish competence no matter what he or she does. When a human being enters adolescence, he (or she) is ready to launch himself out into the world. If he has no marketable skill, he launches himself out with incompetence as his base. Anyone who has not manifested competence in early adulthood must go through life faking it. He can wear a high-priced suit, carry an expensive briefcase, work for a prestigious company, earn a high salary, own a beautiful home and drive a Mercedes, but underneath all of those props, the consciousness still experiences itself as a fake if he launched himself into adult life without a real skill. People can never go back and redo this stage in human development or compensate for it in any way. The onset of puberty is the critical time period in which each human consciousness must express competence in a demonstrated, marketable skill. There is no substitute, because whatever has happened to a human being in this area between young childhood and the onset of puberty becomes fixed.
Humanity has developed some very distorted, incorrect ideas about human psychological development. Most psychological systems have been built on the false conclusion that human beings can be patched up and repaired once they are damaged. These theories were developed by incompetent fakes who failed to make proper connections with physical reality. Human beings are not like cars that can be brought into the shop and serviced. You cannot recall a human consciousness like you can a Ford or Chevy and install a new part or replace a damaged mechanism. You cannot install competence into the human consciousness once the consciousness has been rendered incompetent by a destructive educational system.
In a proper society, with a reality-oriented educational system, parents expect to respond to the infantile needs of their children until children are four, five or six years old. But because of this aberrant educational system, children cannot grow up and mature properly. Parents find that offspring of twelve and thirteen years of age are still emotional babies. Instead of expressing skill and competence, they are still expressing the infantile needs of a four-year-old who cannot make his own meals, wash his clothes or even keep his own room clean, never mind make any contribution to family life. Twelve-year-olds in this society are turned into babies that burden their parents. Most parents are angry at their teenage children for not being more responsible and self-sufficient, Parents forget that they were the ones who gave their sons and daughters over to the school so that educators could incapacitate them.
The current educational system promotes emotional babies and it promotes fakes. Any politician, corporate executive, stockbroker, physician-investor or lawyer who did not have a marketable skill by the age of twelve or thirteen is faking it. Establishing competence in the human consciousness is the way that human beings make vital links to reality. Without these connections to the physical world, people cannot respond properly to physical reality.
VIII. Schools Will Be An Integral, Interconnected Part Of Community Life. Children Will Be Educated In Hardware Stores, Hospitals, Police Stations, Churches, Etc.
A proper school does not exist in isolation, disconnected from all aspects of everyday human life. A proper school is a part of ongoing, everyday community activity. One day, this society will have to find a way to weave children into the give and take of community life. Classes need to be held in service stations, barber shops, drug stores, supermarkets, fire stations, department scores. Schools must become the fabric of everyday life.
Educators believe that it is sufficient to present children with a facsimile of a representation of the real world. Educators think that you can teach children about the weather by making them memorize the names of various cloud formations in a science book. In their system, children never have to look up at the real sky and see real clouds and find out through their own experiences what those various cloud formations might mean about the weather. We have already devoted many pages of prior newsletters to the harm that this system of education has caused. In order to help children grow up to be mentally competent, reality-oriented, functioning adults, schools must be at the heart of community life. Children must be directly involved in the work of local businesses, hospitals, churches and tradespeople. They cannot learn about the workings of a hardware store from looking at pictures in a book. They cannot look at pictures of corn and wheat fields in a book to learn about farming. They must be actively involved in community life. In a proper school environment, you could say that the community is the school.
There are people today who say that all that is needed is to get back to the "good old days" of the 1940s and 1950s, when there were "real schools" and children still had their "heads screwed on straight." The trouble with this talk is that this is exactly what people were saying in the 1940s and 1950s. They thought that all we needed to do was get back to the good old days of the 1920s. We just thought we would issue this short reminder in case anyone reads these newsletters in the year 2010 and concludes that all they need to do is get back to the "good old days" of the 1980s.
We do not think that there are any "good old days" as far as this educational system is concerned. And, as you already know, we believe that this system is so inherently destructive that it cannot be altered or changed. In our first newsletter, we quoted an article written by Joseph Rice in 1892, which appeared in "Forum Magazine." He wrote this article after touring 36 American city school systems. He concluded that "in order to reach the desired end, the school has been converted into the most dehumanizing institution that I have ever laid eyes on, each child being treated as if he possessed a memory and faculty of speech, no individuality, no sensitivity, and no soul."
Almost 100 years have passed since Joseph Rice wrote those words. We do not believe that the ideas underlying this system have gotten any better, and we think that what Joseph Rice said back in the good old 1890s is still true today. However, we do believe that one day the educational system will right itself, but that day will not come for a long, long time. It will only happen when people realize that human nature is a delicate and magnificent instrument that cannot be invaded and corrupted with over-idealized expectations and bizarre religious fantasies. We believe that one day people will see the perfection in human nature as it is and will use this knowledge and understanding as the underpinning of all educational systems. We think that this day is coming because in a few scattered places in society, homeschoolers being one of them, these practices are already in place and are producing astonishing results.