News

sudbury schools

Viewing posts tagged sudbury schools

Hartkamp: "Children are like slaves of the modern age"

20120907-140303.jpg

Editor’s note: This provocative commentary originally appeared in Heb jij iets geleerd vandaag? – Een Sudbury school perspectief op leren, a blog by Sudbury schools in the Netherlands. We present it translated into English from the original Dutch, and with updates by the original author.

Children: Like slaves in the modern age

by Dr. Christel Hartkamp, staff member at De Kampanje Sudbury school in The Netherlands

Foreword: In the Netherlands, by law, all children must attend a by state approved school in the ages between 5 and 18. Home schooling is not allowed. Parents, who keep their children home, are criminally accused. During the trial of the Dutch Sudbury schools (private schools), the verdict of the Council of state that Sudbury schools are no schools, makes clear that there is no Freedom of Education in the Netherlands, and that there is one vision on education prevailing: The State-Pedagogy. Parents from the Sudbury schools now face criminal prosecution. With this background, the following article was written. Note that: “I do not have the intention to hurt or being rude to a particular cultural, political or religious group or people in general, in using the word ‘slave’.”

Slavery in the modern Western world has long been abolished. A slave, as I want to refer to in this article, is “a person who is forced to work for another against his will” (World English Dictionary).

A girl of 8 years old in our Sudbury school replied lately to the question what the difference was between her previous traditional school and our Sudbury school: “At my previous school, I felt like a slave. Here I feel free. I feel like a lion that has broken loose.”

My opinion is that children are treated like slaves in our modern times. And very subtle, this form of slavery is unfolding before our eyes, but nobody sees it. Even parents don’t recognize that their children are being enslaved by the state education system.

The Netherlands has an estimated 2.5 million children of school age, who are forced every day to go to school where they are required to work. All this we accept because we are told that it is for their own good, and then it is apparently not so bad.

Some of the reasons I heard for forcing a child into this situation are that they have to get used to accept some sort of labor later in life (conformism). But one forgets that as an adult, you have the choice to stay in a situation you don’t like, there is nobody forcing you from outside – it is truly your own choice. A child does not have the choice to leave school, it is forced to remain in a situation that is unnatural, it’s like being in prison. When the child gets sick of the situation and stays home, and as a result of stress and pressure, has become depressed, apathetic, tired of life: then the attendance officer of the municipality threatens with a big stick: with an order for truancy and / or with a complaint with Child Protective Services. A child (and often also the parents) are stuck, they are literally driven into a trap. This situation cannot be healthy in a “free democratic society”. Children are indeed not without reason sick from school; nature has ensured that certain defense mechanisms start to work when a person is placed in unnatural conditions of long lasting pressure or stress. It is a defense mechanism of the body and the mind.

There were two types of illnesses that manifested only in slaves: Drapetomanie (the tendency to flee) and Dysaethesia Aethiopica (a state of apathy, totally immune for impulses from outside).

Don’t we see the same diseases in our youth today? Is ADHD not a modern kind of Drapetomanie or Dysaethesia Aethiopica? Or what about Hikikimori, and what about demotivation, lack of concentration, apathy, ADD? I don’t want to say that these are equivalents to those diseases, but they might be equivalent in the effect of the circumstances children are facing today.

We were impressed when this student of 8 years said: “At my previous school, I felt like a slave. Here I feel free. I feel like a lion that is loose.” It was her first week in our school. After the weekend her mother told us, “I have my own daughter back again”. A Sudburyschool is a special place where children are regarded as full human beings, who are treated with respect and trust, and with the same rights as everyone else in the school. Several students have said: “There is no stress” and “Here you are not bullied.” The basis for a good development is a safe environment free from stress. An environment where you have influence in those things that are important to you. That is living in a direct democracy, living with your own choices, living with the consequences of your choices.

Any form of unsolicited or imposed interference, patronizing, guidance, assessment or observation is a violation of the right to individual freedom and make your own choices. The right to be treated as a fully-fledged human being. Children are not treated as slaves in a Sudbury school!

Notes and resources

‘School Is A Prison!’ – Psychologist Dr. Peter Gray Interviewed on Freedomain Radio: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d_DJAZ-ByV0

Hikikomori (literally “pulling inward, being confined”, i.e., “acute social withdrawal”) is a Japanese term to refer to the phenomenon of reclusive adolescents or young adults who withdraw from social life, often seeking extreme degrees of isolation and confinement. In other countries there is another designation such as social phobia, avoidant personality disorder, autism spectrum disorder, agoraphobia, burnout or depression.

"Reboelje!" – Invisible Learning in the Netherlands

Finally, after several weeks of travel and meetings, I am able to report on the Invisible Learning Tour, which was hosted by NHL in Leeuwarden. The event was an example of self-organization. Given the seed of an idea, three universities, two Sudbury schools, the Knowmads school, and various other partners came together, using social media, to construct a two-day event. The purpose of the Invisible Learning Tour was to raise awareness for the need for innovation in education. Mainstream teaching focuses mainly on the preparation of students for compartmentalized roles and jobs (mainly factory workers and bureaucrats) that contrast sharply with the needs of the modern economy, which requires people that are imaginative, creative, and innovative. We explored ideas, existing options, and new pathways for learning that is relevant for the 21st century.

The first day was built into an open space event, moderated by Edwin de Bree (De Koers Sudbury School) and Franziska Krüger (Knowmads). About 130 participants attended the live meeting, and another 295 joined online. I gave the opening keynote, which is posted on Vimeo (my slides are also posted here):

The first day also included open conversations on how to make Invisible Learning visible, and a few participants self-organized a flash mob (video by Guido Crolla):

The second day involved a media tour to the De Kampanje and De Koers Sudbury Schools, and the Knowmads school in Amsterdam. I produced a short video based on interviews with students and staff members at the two Sudbury schools. What struck me in our conversations was, that despite the fact the students have no teachers (they are responsible for their self-learning), their responses were articulate and cogent — despite the fact they were speaking in a second language:

Unfortunately, my time with Knowmads was cut short as I had to race to the airport to catch my flight back from Amsterdam. As I left, however, one thing was very clear: A tremendous momentum for change is building up in the Netherlands. As Knowmads tribe leader Pieter Spinder puts it, it’s time for a Friesian rebellion: “Reboelje!”

Special thanks go to Edwin de Bree, Franziska Krüger, Christel Hartkamp, Jeroen Bottema, Pieter Spinder, Guido Crolla, and the team at Mooipunt/CMD program at NHL in Leeuwarden (Tom Ravesloot, Tom Klaver, Jeroen van de Bovenkamp, Wout Laben, Peter Klaas, Sanne van der Heide, Julien Hogemans, Robert de Kruijf, Sander Nota, and Robin van Poelje). Without their leadership and contributions, this event would never be possible. Better yet, they turned it into a smashing success!

Thank you!

The Invisible Learning Tour kickoff

As the Invisible Learning book enters the final layout stage this week (expect the release in April), Cristóbal Cobo and I are already delivering talks, workshops, and seminars on the topic. Already, in addition to our home base countries, we have been invited to speak in Argentina, Colombia, Czech Republic, Mexico, Netherlands, and Spain.

In regard to the Netherlands, what started as a Twitter conversation two weeks ago has expanded into a two-day event, The Invisible Learning Tour (TILT), on March 7-8. The event is a co-production of Sudbury Netherlands, CMD Leeuwarden, HAN, Inholland, Knowmads, and MooiPunt. The Co-lere website introduces the gathering:

Our schools, universities and other institutions need to make a quantum leap to catch up to the highly-globalized knowledge- and innovation-driven society. At this conference, we work together with John Moravec, education futurist, in an Invisible Learning tour to make new educational paradigms and approaches to human capital development visible.

Monday, March 7, I will open with a talk on Invisible Learning in the morning, and, in the afternoon, we will morph the event into an open meeting space. Further details are being posted to this Facebook page (where you can RSVP to attend, too).

Tuesday, March 8, will make site visits to see invisible learning concepts in practice at HAN Arnhem, the Sudbury Schools of De Koers in Beverwijk and De Kampanje in Amersfoort, Knowmads in Amsterdam, and the Creative Learning Lab in Amsterdam.

…and, to better introduce all this, the organizers (and I) are organizing a “teaser” webinar on March 2:

20:00 Amsterdam time
13:00 Minneapolis/Central/Mexico City time

Link: https://umconnect.umn.edu/ilwebinar

(More information on Facebook)

Need more information on the Invisible Learning kickoff in the Netherlands?

Join the TILT Facebook group or email contact@mooipunt.nl.

If you cannot make it on March 7-8…

…and if you are interested in organizing a talk or workshop about Invisible Learning at your organization, drop us an email!