Schooling: The Hidden Agenda

School_on_HillThis is the transcript of a talk given by Daniel Quinn, to an audience of homeschoolers .  Quinn first caught my eye with his novel, Ishmael. Several friends of mine had read the book and spoke highly of it. Later, when I began studying modern schooling, I discovered this little gem. Enjoy!

I suspect that not everyone in this audience knows who I am or why I’ve been invited to speak to you to day. After all, I’ve never written a book or even an article about home schooling or unschooling. I’ve been called a number of things: a futurist, a planetary philosopher, an anthropologist from Mars. Recently I was introduced to an audience as a cultural critic, and I think this probably says it best. As you’ll see, in my talk to you today, I will be trying to place schooling and unschooling in the larger context of our cultural history and that of our species as well.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with my work, I should begin by explaining what I mean by “our culture.” Rather than burden you with a definition, I’ll give you a simple test that you can use wherever you go in the world. If the food in that part of the world is under lock and key, and the people who live there have to work to get it, then you’re among people of our culture. If you happen to be in a jungle in the interior of Brazil or New Guinea, however, you’ll find that the food is not under lock and key. It’s simply out there for the taking, and anyone who wants some can just go and get it. The people who live in these areas, often called aboriginals, stone-age peoples, or tribal peoples clearly belong to a culture radically different from our own.

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You May Already Be An Anarchist

Excerpted from:ffol_header

It’s true. If your idea of healthy human relations is a dinner with friends, where everyone enjoys everyone else’s company, responsibilities are divided up voluntarily and informally, and no one gives orders or sells anything, then you are an anarchist, plain and simple. The only question that remains is how you can arrange for more of your interactions to resemble this model.

Whenever you act without waiting for instructions or official permission, you are an anarchist. Any time you bypass a ridiculous regulation when no one’s looking, you are an anarchist. If you don’t trust the government, the school system, Hollywood, or the management to know better than you when it comes to things that affect your life, that’s anarchism, too. And you are especially an anarchist when you come up with your own ideas and initiatives and solutions.

As you can see, it’s anarchism that keeps things working and life interesting. If we waited for authorities and specialists and technicians to take care of everything, we would not only be in a world of trouble, but dreadfully bored—and boring—to boot. Today we live in that world of (dreadfully boring!) trouble precisely to the extent that we abdicate responsibility and control.

Anarchism is naturally present in every healthy human being. It isn’t necessarily about throwing bombs or wearing black masks, though you may have seen that on television (Do you believe everything you see on television? That’s not anarchist!). The root of anarchism is the simple impulse to do it yourself: everything else follows from this.

Click here for the entire Anarchist Primer in pdf (13 pages)

Confessions

confessional

We dropped out of school, got divorced, broke with our families and ourselves and everything we’d known.

We quit our jobs, violated our leases, threw all our furniture out on the sidewalk, and hit the road.

We sat on the swings of children’s playgrounds until our toes were frostbitten, admiring the moonlight on the dewy grass, writing poetry on the wind for each other.

We went to bed early and lay awake until well past dawn recounting all the awful things we’d done to others and they to us—and laughing, blessing and absolving each other and this crazy cosmos.

We stole into museums showing reruns of old Guy Debord films to write fight foul and faster, my friend, the old world is behind you on the backs of theater seats.

The scent of gasoline still fresh on our hands, we watched the new sun rise, and spoke in hushed voices about what we should do next, thrilling in the budding consciousness of our own limitless power.

We used stolen calling card numbers to talk our teenage lovers through phone sex from telephones in the lobbies of police stations. Read the rest of this entry »

The Zen of Fight Club

boxer

In a 1996 Chuck Palahniuk published a novel. The book follows the experiences of an unnamed protagonist struggling with insomnia. Inspired by his doctor’s exasperated remark that sleeplessness is not suffering, he finds relief by impersonating a seriously ill person in several support groups. An encounter with a fellow “tourist”, Marla, drives him back into insomnia until he meets a mysterious liberator named Tyler Durden and establishes an underground fighting club as a form of radical psychotherapy.

In 1999, director David Fincher adapted the novel into a film of the same name, which received positive critical response and generated  a cult following, despite lower than expected box-office results.

Fight Club, while fictional, contained several tidbits of wisdom.  Most of the “liberation dialog” was spoken by the imaginary character of Tyler Durden.  While many saw the value of the novel and the movie as entertainment,  some of us relished its revolutionary vision.

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