Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A few thoughts on conventional education

Why am I here?

Why did I think a mainstream university would suit me?

I am so far off the conventional realm of things.... This is not a good idea.

Why do we go to school, anyway? What IS school?

Who came up with it? When did it become the “norm” to go to school?

Don't get me wrong. I love to learn. We are born to learn. We are curious creatures.

But when did this “school” thing come into action?

Can't I just learn from experience?

Can't I learn from exploring the world on my own?

Can't I learn from hands-on activities? ...From touching, feeling, and creating things?!

Why do I let some man in the front of the classroom control my life?!

We are being forced to learn things on a certain schedule and in a certain way.

There is something unnatural about that.

Something about this idea irritates me.

We are curious creatures. We need to learn at our own pace.

We need to learn what we WANT to learn at certain times in our lives.

Here is a great quote by John Holt:
"The child is curious. He wants to make sense out of things, find out how things work, gain competence and control over himself and his environment, and do what he can see other people doing. He is open, perceptive, and experimental. He does not merely observe the world around him, He does not shut himself off from the strange, complicated world around him, but tastes it, touches it, hefts it, bends it, breaks it. To find out how reality works, he works on it. He is bold. He is not afraid of making mistakes. And he is patient. He can tolerate an extraordinary amount of uncertainty, confusion, ignorance, and suspense ... School is not a place that gives much time, or opportunity, or reward, for this kind of thinking and learning."
(There are some great info and quotes here:

When I have kids, I am not putting them through school.

I will teach them basic concepts when I feel the time is right (reading and math) but as for everything else, it is totally up to them. They can learn at their own pace. They can learn what they want to learn.

If they want to know about the solar system, we can go get books and learn about it. We can go to a museum and they can look through a telescope and we can discuss it. We can make drawings and sculptures... anything that they want to do to learn about it.

If they want to do yoga, we can go to classes.
If they want to climb, I can teach them. We can climb outside and learn about the rock.

If they want to learn about plants and animals, we can go exploring. We can visit farms. We can watch movies (Planet Earth, anyone!?) We can do anything to help them learn.

Whatever they want, they will learn about it. At their own pace. With all the time in the world.

Thats what learning should be about.

"I am beginning to suspect all elaborate and special systems of education. They seem to me to be built upon the supposition that every child is a kind of idiot who must be taught to think. Whereas, if the child is left to himself, he will think more and better, if less showily. Let him go and come freely, let him touch real things and combine his impressions for himself, instead of sitting indoors at a little round table, while a sweet-voiced teacher suggests that he build a stone wall with his wooden blocks, or make a rainbow out of strips of coloured paper, or plant straw trees in bead flower-pots. Such teaching fills the mind with artificial associations that must be got rid of, before the child can develop independent ideas out of actual experience." -- Anne Sullivan


I am EXTREMELY interested in natural health. I came here to UTC to study nutrition. I know, I know... its a mainstream college... They are going to teach me about the food pyramid and a lot of BS. I was planning on just sitting through the class and trying to resist argument after every statement they make.

But why would I even want to put up with that when I could learn what I WANT to learn somewhere else?

The classes here make me cry everyday. Education should not make a student cry. Learning should be fun. Learning should be something that one is excited about!!!

I keep looking at the descriptions for the classes at the University of Natural Health. It's an online school. As I read the information about the classes, it excites me! The feelings I have are similar to a child waiting for Santa to deliver presents on Christmas. My mind is craving that information. I want to learn it. I don't want to wait! I am ecstatic about learning this information. Isn't that what learning should be about!?

Online classes seem to be optimal for the lifestyle I want to live. I can get sufficient sleep (which natural health is all about!!!) and start my classes when I WANT TO START THEM! I can focus when I WANT TO FOCUS! I can climb, make art, and travel when and where I want! I feel that it will be perfect to suit my needs.

Some people tell me that I need the college experience to be around the people. They tell me that it's not just about the education, but about meeting people. I can understand that. BUT. I am part of this AWESOME climbing community and I meet new people everyday. I meet people at the health food store and I meet farmers at the farmer's markets. I meet people everywhere I go who share common interests. I don't need college to meet people. I have TONS of friends and they multiply constantly.

I am so sick of conventional education.

I want to learn things... but not in the way they want to teach me.

Let me learn what I want to learn!

I crave this knowledge. I LONG for it.


For the record, UNH is over $10,000 cheaper than UTC. Also, I could get a side job at the health food store or something and bring in a little spending money for food. I am glad that I am standing up and doing what I want to do.

Support me if you want. I am doing it either way.


Anonymous said...

I really agree

Omegachuck said...

Patience, dear Grasshopper'. Well as an educator, but not much of a conventional student myself, I say try to give it a little bit more time. You can switch to the online stuff just about anytime I would suspect. I agree that your self learning and how to put skills to use in life is more important these days than the drawn out 4yr. college sheepskin' in hand.
Ever think of being a philosophy major?

Odub said...

Good for you Ash. Do your thing.

RawPhreak said...

I'm so glad you realized this so soon instead of letting the years go by. Don't punish yourself by learning lies, go learn what you know to be the truth and live the life you want to live. I'm so proud of you Ashley! :)

Zoe said...

Ash, I love what your doing and how your doing it, im glad that you are going to live the life you want to live.
You are shaping new ideas in my head. Life should be about learing as you said. To me, school is too drwan out. i think we could finish school but faster and at our pace. THis planet needs change. Its time for it.
Suport you all the way

Emily Jayne said...

What a powerful place to be in! I totally understand how you feel. I just pulled my two daughters out of 'traditional' school because I finally have the guts to follow my heart. Homeschooling has been wonderful! (I think and hope my girls feel the same way.)

Yes, we have to learn the traditional food pyramid and about the "benifits" of flouride, etc but I just teach it to them and add my own. There is a place in my world for these ideas. They are the fuel for my fire. Those silly ideas are what keep me motivated to keep going against the grain and teach the girls myself.

It's no different from religion. Even though I'm not a christian, I want my children to know the bible stories - they are part of our culture. I don't want them having a conversation some day in the future and say "who are adam and eve?" Do you get my point?

I understand your frustration. I also am completely jealous that you get to go to college. I would lap it up, find a way to find some worth out of it. You will learn if you choose to!

Good luck. I hope you can find a place where some of it can sit well with your being.

Emily Jayne

badash said...

i am finishing out this year for sure. I am gaining all of the knowledge that i can possibly gain. But my mind craves different things, and I will feed my brain with the knowledge it needs.

And no i have never thought of that, but it is a good idea that I may consider. I love philosophy.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you. It took me 10 years to realize all that. Your posts are really inspiring! Thank you!

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