I got reminded again today why I chose a Steiner education for my children.
The whole feeling of disheartening that comes with the mainstream approach to education came knocking on my door once again today. I felt, yet again, what it is like to work so hard on something and get it thrown back in your face as “not good enough”, because although “you demonstrate a good understanding... include the obvious”! What do they mean by that: well although it is apparent from the work that I understand it, but as I have not used their favourite ‘key words’- ‘stated the obvious’- which win the brownie points, means my work is sub par!
The frustrations of my childhood days run wild through my veins again, where children who put in sub par effort and read cliff notes to bag brownie points excelled and children who spent hours with bucket loads of effort got left stranded as “not good enough”.
This whole system is designed for compliance!
You say the right words, do the right actions and you get rewarded, if you veer from what the authority deems necessary you are penalised. The system is not designed to allow learning and gaining of knowledge, it is there to “school” you, train you to comply and then rate you as to how well you comply.
When I stepped into the world of learning once again, I hoped I was walking into a place that would be more respective of real education, but alas it was my wishful thinking that led me to believe that there could be a world free of brownie points outside of the Steiner realms.
I chose Steiner Education for this very reason for my children. I wanted them to enjoy learning, I wanted them to engage in it whole heartedly. All the while with their efforts and learning appreciated for its own merits and not marked or ranked according to one persons perception of what an understanding of a subject consists of. After all one mans understanding is only as good as their own comprehension abilities. Who is to say that another person’s comprehension, be it even a child’s is not better than theirs! Does the name Thomas Edison ring any bells?
As Rudolf Steiner says in The Spiritual Ground of Education-
“We must never imagine that we are the most intelligent people at the summit of human intelligence; this, in fact, would show that we are very poor teachers. Rather, we should think of ourselves as only relatively intelligent. This is a more realistic mind-set than the other. Now in this state of consciousness, we enter the classroom. As we enter, we must remember that, among these children, there may be a very intelligent being, one who in later life will be far more intelligent than we. Now if we, who are only relatively intelligent, were to bring up this child to be only as intelligent as ourselves, we would render him merely a copy of ourselves. This would be quite wrong. The correct approach would be to educate this very intelligent individual to grow and become far more intelligent than we could ever be. This means that there is something in a person that we must not touch, something we must approach with sensitive reverence, if we are to exercise the art of education properly.”
This, this is the primary and most fundamental difference between Steiner education and mainstream education for me! The whole attitude surrounding how a child is educated makes a fundamental differences in how a human being develops and grows. This has been my biggest beef with mainstream education, why is there only one perspective that is acceptable? I am not saying I am more profoundly intelligent than my educators, I don’t have to be to hold a different perspective, but why is a different perspective disregarded? After all is it not different perspectives and thinking outside of the box that has lead society to where it is at today?
Every great discovery was horrifically outrageous at the time it was proposed and yet today it is widely accepted as “truth”. So why is having a different point of view so wrong? Why is thinking of it in different ways penalised? Why can it not be allowed to be pondered over? After all one is innocent until proven guilty are they not? So why is an opinion, a perspective not allowed to be until proven otherwise?
I am not saying that I do not appreciate the “wider accepted views of the world”, but why can I not allow that to be, but also still hold my own perspectives too? I am not arrogantly thinking my views are better, they are just different, why can I not be allowed to hold me views until proven otherwise? Why can I not be allowed appreciation for my work despite it not holding the “key words”? Why is my demonstration of understanding not good enough? Why do we have to earn brownie points to show our worth, why can it not be allowed for our own worth to speak for itself?
Why does our worth need to be measured against others and be quantified? I am not like anyone else and no one else is like me. Why can I not be seen and appreciated for my own unique traits that I have to bring and offer to the world? Why do I have to hold the same or equal abilities as others, why can I not have my own weird and wonderful flavour that I can bring to the table? If all Coffees tasted the same would that not be boring?? Allow children to grow and learn in their own way. Develop there own unique tones and flavours that they can enrich the world with; for you and I do not know what it is that they have to unfold into. Do not force them into a box that will restrict their growth only into certain ways, for every flower needs to bloom into its very own unique shape.
It was this thinking that led me to firmly choose a different path for my children, so that their thinking and being could be allowed to be and appreciated for what it is and not pounded out of them in the name of “education” by “superior” intelligence.
On the dawn of the new year, I love you and leave you with another of my favourite quotes of Steiner’s from the same text:
“it is important to foster the development of a child’s inherent capacities. Thus, all teaching must be at the service of education. Strictly speaking, the task is to educate, and teaching is used as a means of educating.”