Monday, March 17, 2014

What is a community education system?

Andrew D Atkin:

Well here's how I would envisage it. For a start community education means community education, and therefore bottom up - not top down. So it would be based on what the local community wants, and not what the state wants. State is not community.

In community education I would expect the teachers to communicate openly with students to get their input, because how the students feel and function, and what they think, would not only be in the teachers commercial interest (their students are customers) but the students mind would be regarded as the teachers responsibility to both understand and respond to. So the students would be serious participants on what and how things are done.

Teachers would work closely with students to see where they (the teachers) have gone right and wrong, and how they can improve in general, as the students are clearly their most critical information-feedback source. For young children especially, I would expect parents to be closely tied into the loop providing feedback and input.

Also the community (teachers, students and parents) would work together to define the educational curriculum, and the entire structural nature of the learning process relating to both learning time and location. The teachers would understand that their role in the relationship is to serve and facilitate, so they would work primarily to consult (like a doctor) and not dictate (like a policeman) on how/what education is done.

Students and parents would have the power to seek alternative relationships with teachers and schools, at their will. A bottom-up community is self-defined, which likewise requires freedom of association.

So with community education the community is in control, working to build the education system, and the relationships, that everyone really wants and with the central focus of course being service to the students and parents. State regulations would be weak or virtually non-existent. The state's opinion has nothing to do with community education, by definition.

The status quo:

Obviously we don't have community education today (in New Zealand). What we have is state education - top down. The power of the community is so superficial that you could say it's practically non-existent - all core objectives and processes are dictated by the state.

And indeed, the character of modern education is quite blatantly statist. Teachers don't talk to the students on the level of process. Teachers have no professional interest in what the students personally think. They don't even survey them. What students think of their teachers, their classmates and their learning process is virtually moot. The students simply get what they are given.

Instead, what we do is just test the students, and in turn we base our ideas of the success and/or failure of our system on those tests. At the risk of sounding a bit dramatic, I will say that we treat students more like livestock than human beings.

How do you achieve community education?

Pretty obvious. The free market. Deregulate and privatise education. A free market education system basically means a demand-responsive education system. That is, an education system that the students and parents want, and not necessarily an education system that the state wants.

But alas, the extreme political left, with all their self-righteous ranting (backed by a massive army of state educators ie. feeders of the status-quo) have been telling us that the free market is the enemy and the outsider of the community. This camp, strangely and ironically, claims to be all about community yet are in fact clearly about the state.

Though state educators often say they want freedom from the state, to do things as they wish, they still insist on having the state provide them with their forced-attendance market and protected tenure (as the state does). No, most teachers are not interested in answering to the community - and they don't. They just don't want to be accountable to anyone.

The far political left hate the idea of community education to such a great degree that the [socialist] Green Party of New Zealand, for example, has vowed to outlaw charter schools for if they ever get the chance to do so [charter schools are a very luke warm version of community education...but still mostly statist].


All I can say is please be clear as to what real community education is. It's bottom up - not top down. And by definition it requires the free market for its evolution - not state regulation.

Our long-standing system, which is inarguably authoritarian and statist, humiliates the student by not engaging them as at least equals in their educational process. Why have we tolerated this? Because we believe that that is the rightful and natural place of children - and the state.

When a child grows up with controlling parents who dictate their every move without negotiation, the child comes to believe that they have no rights too. Oppression becomes a culture, a mentality and a way of life. From here we may not even see it for what it is. We may come to really believe that strangers housed in a far-away location somehow have the right to dictate six hours of our child's daily life, as we have.

But alas, for most children schooling as we know it is merely an extension of a comparable home life. And so is corporate culture of which schooling is suppose to adjust us for (good link). Again that's why we tolerate it - it's simply "natural" for us. We are half-way socialists living in a half-way socialism. And although many confused souls would disagree, socialism is not community. It's simply centralised [to the state] control.

What would happen if we had a true community education system? 

If education was allowed to form from the bottom up, and with the government providing financial support only as required, then my best guess is that the entire game would dissolve into homeschooling clubs. People would realise that there's simply no need to institutionalise a child's development, and that it's an expense and inconvenience that they can happily do without.

You would still have teacher/schooling services, but you would have a different kind of teacher. You would have a teacher operating as a true independent professional, who is successful in the free market (or they wouldn't exist), and likewise a teacher who will respect the free market and its strengths and not advocate for state control - because they just don't need it.

You can see that when you create a wrong system you end up with wrong people. The best (would be) teachers are probably the ones who don't and couldn't participate in the current system. They're the people you will never hear of.

Role of the state:

In my view an ideal education system should not be stateless.

The role of the state should be to check for gross developmental problems and child abuse, and schooling can assist in this. Also there is something to be said for ensuring that children don't grow up in cults, which a family can be in its own right. The hallmark of a cult is it shuts itself off to external influence, allowing the members within it to develop bizarrely eccentric ideas and cultures. There is a lot to be said, I believe, for ensuring that all children are exposed to a broader social world, and broader ideas, at the critical ages. Make sure they know that the world is round!

However, I believe the role of the state should be drastically cut back from where it is today. It is unnecessarily (and appallingly, I feel) too invasive and restrictive.

More on education here.

Example of community education here.

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