Leave the children in peace

By Mathias Maurer, February 2012

Dear Reader,

An early start to schooling, high-powered school leaving exams, educational standards ... those are the education policies intended to make our education system cheaper and more efficient and our children more intelligent. The early years are not exempted from this development either: crèches from age 0 and early intervention to support the learning of science, plus detailed documentation intended to optimise children’s development. Education partnerships between parents and teachers threaten to turn into a false educational paradise from which the child cannot escape from the moment it is born until he or she leaves school. The keenness to educate knows no limits, fed by parental fears of not being able to live up to their hopes that “we want you to be better or at least as well off as we are”. Tutoring and support no matter where you look. Yet children would benefit from less supervision and instruction in kindergarten and school. Current studies show that children prosper best in the family. It is therefore urgently necessary to de-educationalise the everyday lives of children. Children do not need a seamless education system for their healthy development but free spaces which are not educationally controlled.

Such educational overdrive wreaks its revenge at the latest when children enter puberty. Because no young person can survive educational force feeding. School must be radically de-schooled in these years. Out into the world: working in projects, visits abroad, several years of apprenticeship. Then let anyone who wants to make the best of school.

That young people construct biographical parallel worlds, dutifully fit in, become disaffected with school and start playing up, or, indeed, drop out of school altogether, is part of a pattern in which they withdraw from the system. It quickly turns into an attitude to life which blocks real life-opportunities – and it does so more thoroughly than any (failed) school leaving exams because those young people had no school which helped them to find their inner connection with themselves.

What should the aim of education be? That children and young people learn to discover their abilities and that they are allowed to find the tasks which are in harmony with themselves and are not dictated by grade point averages. Only then are judges, doctors and teachers able in later life to dispense true justice, heal people and become explorers of and companions in learning.

Mathias Maurer


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