Education Work Paradox

It seems as if the Western World is made up out of paradoxes, and everywhere I turn I find them. I got to thinking about “work” after writing an article for Life Learning magazine a while back. Work is the single most valued thing in Western society. When you meet someone new,the first question will be: “what do you do”. We are a folk that defines themselves through their activities. If you do not “do” anything – or at least anything that complies to the general definition people hold, Westerners donʼt really know where to put you, and it generally ends a conversation dead on track.

When it comes to kids in Western society, we are most worried about their “success” in life. And success, of course, is defined by their capacities of landing a well paid job, later on. So – from a young age – parents stress about “raising the bar high enough”, getting in the right schools and following the right courses. As kids get older, and get to go to college or university, they are told to choose a path that will ensure good (read well paid and available)career opportunities.

Now even though (paid) activity is so very valued in Western society, children are to be kept faraway from it. We even made laws to keep them out of it. Children are kept off the work market on purpose, for years. That is the whole purpose of collective schooling anyway: initially, to keep them safe while both parents are at work and secondly to keep them off the market and dependent, so both parents have to continue working.

So even though we are most concerned about our kids getting a good job, and every step we take from the day they are born is directed to ensure that we do everything in our power to ensure that super magnificent well paid job, nothing, not one thing on their perfectly laid out trajectory towards that job prepares them for actually having that job. Nothing prepares them for the responsibilities that go along with that job. And nothing prepares them for controlling the money they earn from that job, which was, after all, the big goal of the scheme.

Now maybe that’s also a piece of the puzzle: to make them “ambitious” and have them make as much money as possible, and then to have them spend it as swiftly as possible to get the economy rolling, because they never learned to manage it.

Anyway, it seems really strange to me how so little people in the Western World see how much pressure we put on children to eventually get “a good job” and how little we do to actually prepare them for that job.

By Mamapoekie

Creating a Portfolio

I was recently introduced to a fantastic FREE tool for unschoolers who want or need to keep records of their children’s learning. Evernote is a free application that helps you keep track not only of all your online activity (websites, games, videos), but also personal notes, photos, sound clips, text documents, etc. I think Evernote can be the entire portfolio–you can even scan documents (drawings, writings, etc…).

After you download the program, create “notebooks” to hold the information you gather from websites, games, interesting online videos, etc. Put Evernote on all your computers and smart phones, that way if your partner is out with the kids and someone asks a question, and your partner can looks up the answer, that info can be sent directly to the appropriate “notebook”-same with photos or notes that are made. { Read the complete article }

Unschoolers on Twitter

Joanne, at An Unschooling Life has a wonderful resource page of Unschoolers on Twitter. Do you tweet? Check it out, add yourself, find some cool folks to follow!

Meredith January 22, 2011

Origami Lesson

I’ve been paper-folding most of the morning; first working through an origami bird kit with Morgan watching and playing with the birds and then folding one particular form over and over and over. I’ve had lots of thoughts in my head as I fold and refold, and most of them have had to do with learning and creativity and – surprisingly – with limits.

Origami kits and instructions can be a nightmare until you get the hang of the principles of paper folding. The instructions are baffling and senseless until you understand the quite literal ins and outs of the technique. I remember thinking origami unreasonably difficult until my mid-twenties (and I’m good with my hands, good at puzzling out directions from a diagram, too) until someone sat down with me and showed me a few basic folds. I’m still not any kind of paper folding expert but I’ve become a fairly confident dabbler, intrigued with the idea of limiting a creation to something made from a single square of paper.

On a radio program the other night, some artist or other (Stewart of the Daily show, I think, in an interview with Terry Gross) commented that creativity comes from limits. I don’t disagree with that in the least, but I do think it’s important to point out that those limits do not necessarily come from outside the artist. { Read the full column }