Anarchism and education | Wikipedia audio article


Anarchism has had a special interest on the
issue of education from the works of William Godwin and Max Stirner onwards.
A wide diversity of issues related to education have gained the attention of anarchist theorists
and activists. They have included the role of education in social control and socialization,
the rights and liberties of youth and children within educational contexts, the inequalities
encouraged by current educational systems, the influence of state and religious ideologies
in the education of people, the division between social and manual work and its relationship
with education, sex education and art education. Various alternatives to contemporary mainstream
educational systems and their problems have been proposed by anarchists which have gone
from alternative education systems and environments, self-education, advocacy of youth and children
rights, and freethought activism.==Early anarchist views on education=====William Godwin===
For English enlightenment anarchist William Godwin education was “the main means by which
change would be achieved.” Godwin saw that the main goal of education should be the promotion
of happiness. For Godwin, education had to have “A respect for the child’s autonomy
which precluded any form of coercion”, “A pedagogy that respected this and sought to
build on the child’s own motivation and initiatives” and “A concern about the child’s
capacity to resist an ideology transmitted through the school.”In his Political Justice
he criticizes state sponsored schooling “on account of its obvious alliance with national
government”. For him the State “will not fail to employ it to strengthen its hands, and
perpetuate its institutions.”. He thought “It is not true that our youth ought to be
instructed to venerate the constitution, however excellent; they should be instructed to venerate
truth; and the constitution only so far as it corresponded with their independent deductions
of truth.”. A long work on the subject of education to consider is The Enquirer. Reflections
On Education, Manners, And Literature. In A Series Of Essays.===Max Stirner===
Max Stirner was a German philosopher linked mainly with the anarchist school of thought
known as individualist anarchism who worked as a schoolteacher in a gymnasium for young
girls. He examines the subject of education directly in his long essay The False Principle
of our Education. In it “we discern his persistent pursuit of the goal of individual self-awareness
and his insistence on the centering of everything around the individual personality”. As such
Stirner “in education, all of the given material has value only in so far as children learn
to do something with it, to use it”. In that essay he deals with the debates between realist
and humanistic educational commentators and sees that both “are concerned with the learner
as an object, someone to be acted upon rather than one encouraged to move toward subjective
self-realization and liberation” and sees that “a knowledge which only burdens me as
a belonging and a possession, instead of having gone along with me completely so that the
free-moving ego, not encumbered by any dragging possessions, passes through the world with
a fresh spirit, such a knowledge then, which has not become personal, furnishes a poor
preparation for life”.He concludes this essay by saying that “the necessary decline of non-voluntary
learning and rise of the self-assured will which perfects itself in the glorious sunlight
of the free person may be expressed somewhat as follows: knowledge must die and rise again
as will and create itself anew each day as a free person.”. Stirner thus saw education
“is to be life and there, as outside of it, the self-revelation of the individual is to
be the task.” For him “pedagogy should not proceed any further towards civilizing, but
toward the development of free men, sovereign characters”.===Josiah Warren===
Josiah Warren is widely regarded as the first American anarchist. “Where utopian projectors
starting with Plato entertained the idea of creating an ideal species through eugenics
and education and a set of universally valid institutions inculcating shared identities,
Warren wanted to dissolve such identities in a solution of individual self-sovereignty.
His educational experiments, for example, possibly under the influence of the…Swiss
educational theorist Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi (via Robert Owen), emphasized—as we would
expect—the nurturing of the independence and the conscience of individual children,
not the inculcation of pre-conceived values.”==
The classics and the late 19th century=====Mikhail Bakunin===
On “Equal Opportunity in Education” Russian anarchist Mikhail Bakunin denounced what he
saw as the social inequalities caused by the current educational systems. He put this issue
in this way “will it be feasible for the working masses to know complete emancipation as long
as the education available to those masses continues to be inferior to that bestowed
upon the bourgeois, or, in more general terms, as long as there exists any class, be it numerous
or otherwise, which, by virtue of birth, is entitled to a superior education and a more
complete instruction? Does not the question answer itself?…”He also denounced that “Consequently
while some study others must labour so that they can produce what we need to live — not
just producing for their own needs, but also for those men who devote themselves exclusively
to intellectual pursuits. As a solution to this Bakunin proposed that “Our answer to
that is a simple one: everyone must work and everyone must receive education…for work’s
sake as much as for the sake of science, there must no longer be this division into workers
and scholars and henceforth there must be only men. “===Peter Kropotkin===
Russian anarcho-communist theorist Peter Kropotkin suggested in “Brain Work and Manual Work”
that “The masses of the workmen do not receive more scientific education than their grandfathers
did; but they have been deprived of the education of even the small workshop, while their boys
and girls are driven into a mine, or a factory, from the age of thirteen, and there they soon
forget the little they may have learned at school. As to the scientists, they despise
manual labour.” So for Kropotkin “We fully recognise the necessity of specialisation
of knowledge, but we maintain that specialisation must follow general education, and that general
education must be given in science and handicraft alike. To the division of society into brainworkers
and manual workers we oppose the combination of both kinds of activities; and instead of
`technical education,’ which means the maintenance of the present division between brain work
and manual work, we advocate the éducation intégrale, or complete education, which means
the disappearance of that pernicious distinction.”==The Early 20th century=====Leo Tolstoy===
The Russian christian anarchist and famous novelist Leo Tolstoy established a school
for peasant children on his estate. Tolstoy returned to Yasnaya Polyana and founded thirteen
schools for his serfs’ children, based on the principles Tolstoy described in his 1862
essay “The School at Yasnaya Polyana”. Tolstoy’s educational experiments were short-lived due
to harassment by the Tsarist secret police, but as a direct forerunner to A. S. Neill’s
Summerhill School, the school at Yasnaya Polyana can justifiably be claimed to be the first
example of a coherent theory of democratic education.
Tolstoy differentiated between education and culture. He wrote that “Education is the tendency
of one man to make another just like himself… Education is culture under restraint, culture
is free. [Education is] when the teaching is forced upon the pupil, and when then instruction
is exclusive, that is when only those subjects are taught which the educator regards as necessary”.
For him “without compulsion, education was transformed into culture”.===Francesc Ferrer i Guàrdia and the Modern
schools===In 1901, Catalan anarchist and free-thinker
Francesc Ferrer i Guàrdia established “modern” or progressive schools in Barcelona in defiance
of an educational system controlled by the Catholic Church. The schools’ stated goal
was to “educate the working class in a rational, secular and non-coercive setting”. Fiercely
anti-clerical, Ferrer believed in “freedom in education”, education free from the authority
of church and state. Murray Bookchin wrote: “This period [1890s] was the heyday of libertarian
schools and pedagogical projects in all areas of the country where Anarchists exercised
some degree of influence. Perhaps the best-known effort in this field was Francisco Ferrer’s
Modern School (Escuela Moderna), a project which exercised a considerable influence on
Catalan education and on experimental techniques of teaching generally.” La Escuela Moderna,
and Ferrer’s ideas generally, formed the inspiration for a series of Modern Schools in the United
States, Cuba, South America and London. The first of these was started in New York City
in 1911. It also inspired the Italian newspaper Università popolare, founded in 1901.
Ferrer wrote an extensive work on education and on his educational experiments called
The Origin and Ideals of the Modern School.====The Modern School movement in the United
States====The Modern Schools, also called Ferrer Schools,
were United States schools, established in the early twentieth century, that were modeled
after the Escuela Moderna of Francesc Ferrer i Guàrdia, the Catalan educator and anarchist.
They were an important part of the anarchist, free schooling, socialist, and labor movements
in the U.S., intended to educate the working-classes from a secular, class-conscious perspective.
The Modern Schools imparted day-time academic classes for children, and night-time continuing-education
lectures for adults. The first, and most notable, of the Modern
Schools was founded in New York City, in 1911, two years after Francesc Ferrer i Guàrdia’s
execution for sedition in monarchist Spain on 18 October 1909. Commonly called the Ferrer
Center, it was founded by notable anarchists — including Leonard Abbott, Alexander Berkman,
Voltairine de Cleyre, and Emma Goldman — first meeting on St. Mark’s Place, in Manhattan’s
Lower East Side, but twice moved elsewhere, first within lower Manhattan, then to Harlem.
The Ferrer Center opened with only nine students, one being the son of Margaret Sanger, the
contraceptives-rights activist. Starting in 1912, the school’s principal was the philosopher
Will Durant, who also taught there. Besides Berkman and Goldman, the Ferrer Center faculty
included the Ashcan School painters Robert Henri and George Bellows, and its guest lecturers
included writers and political activists such as Margaret Sanger, Jack London, and Upton
Sinclair. Student Magda Schoenwetter, recalled that the school used Montessori methods and
equipment, and emphasised academic freedom rather than fixed subjects, such as spelling
and arithmetic. The Modern School magazine originally began as a newsletter for parents,
when the school was in New York City, printed with the manual printing press used in teaching
printing as a profession. After moving to the Stelton Colony, New Jersey, the magazine’s
content expanded to poetry, prose, art, and libertarian education articles; the cover
emblem and interior graphics were designed by Rockwell Kent. Artists and writers, among
them Hart Crane and Wallace Stevens, praised The Modern School as “the most beautifully
printed magazine in existence.” After the 4 July 1914 Lexington Avenue bombing,
the police investigated and several times raided the Ferrer Center and other labor and
anarchist organisations in New York City. Acknowledging the urban danger to their school,
the organizers bought 68 acres (275,000 m²) in Piscataway Township, New Jersey, and moved
there in 1914, becoming the center of the Stelton Colony. Moreover, beyond New York
City, the Ferrer Colony and Modern School was founded (ca. 1910–1915) as a Modern
School-based community, that endured some forty years. In 1933, James and Nellie Dick,
who earlier had been principals of the Stelton Modern School, founded the Modern School in
Lakewood, New Jersey, which survived the original Modern School, the Ferrer Center, becoming
the final surviving such school, lasting until 1958.===Emma Goldman===
In an essay entitled “The child and its enemies” Lithuanian-American anarcha-feminist Emma
Goldman manifested that “The child shows its individual tendencies in its plays, in its
questions, in its association with people and things. But it has to struggle with everlasting
external interference in its world of thought and emotion. It must not express itself in
harmony with its nature, with its growing personality. It must become a thing, an object.
Its questions are met with narrow, conventional, ridiculous replies, mostly based on falsehoods;
and, when, with large, wondering, innocent eyes, it wishes to behold the wonders of the
world, those about it quickly lock the windows and doors, and keep the delicate human plant
in a hothouse atmosphere, where it can neither breathe nor grow freely.” Goldman in the essay
entitled “The Social Importance of the Modern School” saw that “the school of today, no
matter whether public, private, or parochial…is for the child what the prison is for the convict
and the barracks for the soldier — a place where everything is being used to break the
will of the child, and then to pound, knead, and shape it into a being utterly foreign
to itself.”In this way “it will be necessary to realize that education of children is not
synonymous with herdlike drilling and training. If education should really mean anything at
all, it must insist upon the free growth and development of the innate forces and tendencies
of the child. In this way alone can we hope for the free individual and eventually also
for a free community, which shall make interference and coercion of human growth impossible.”Goldman
in her essay on the Modern School also dealt with the issue of Sex education. She denounced
that “educators also know the evil and sinister results of ignorance in sex matters. Yet,
they have neither understanding nor humanity enough to break down the wall which puritanism
has built around sex…If in childhood both man and woman were taught a beautiful comradeship,
it would neutralize the oversexed condition of both and would help woman’s emancipation
much more than all the laws upon the statute books and her right to vote.”==Later 20th century and contemporary times
==Experiments in Germany led to A. S. Neill
founding what became Summerhill School in 1921. Summerhill is often cited as an example
of anarchism in practice. British anarchists Stuart Christie and Albert Meltzer manifested
that “A.S. Neill is the modern pioneer of libertarian education and of “hearts not
heads in the school”. Although he has denied being an anarchist, it would be hard to know
how else to describe his philosophy, though he is correct in recognising the difference
between revolution in philosophy and pedagogy, and the revolutionary change of society. They
are associated but not the same thing.” However, although Summerhill and other free schools
are radically libertarian, they differ in principle from those of Ferrer by not advocating
an overtly political class struggle-approach.===Herbert Read===
The English anarchist philosopher, art critic and poet, Herbert Read developed a strong
interest in the subject of education and particularly in art education. Read’s anarchism was influenced
by William Godwin, Peter Kropotkin and Max Stirner. Read “became deeply interested in
children’s drawings and paintings after having been invited to collect works for an
exhibition of British art that would tour allied and neutral countries during the Second
World War. As it was considered too risky to transport across the Atlantic works of
established importance to the national heritage, it was proposed that children’s drawings
and paintings should be sent instead. Read, in making his collection, was unexpectedly
moved by the expressive power and emotional content of some of the younger artist’s
works. The experience prompted his special attention to their cultural value, and his
engagement of the theory of children’s creativity with seriousness matching his devotion to
the avant-garde. This work both changed fundamentally his own life’s work throughout his remaining
twenty-five years and provided art education with a rationale of unprecedented lucidity
and persuasiveness. Key books and pamphlets resulted: Education through Art (Read, 1943);
The Education of Free Men (Read, 1944); Culture and Education in a World Order (Read, 1948);
The Grass Read, (1955); and Redemption of the Robot (1970)”.Read “elaborated a socio-cultural
dimension of creative education, offering the notion of greater international understanding
and cohesiveness rooted in principles of developing the fully balanced personality through art
education. Read argued in Education through Art that “every child, is said to be a potential
neurotic capable of being saved from this prospect, if early, largely inborn, creative
abilities were not repressed by conventional Education. Everyone is an artist of some kind
whose special abilities, even if almost insignificant, must be encouraged as contributing to an infinite
richness of collective life. Read’s newly expressed view of an essential ‘continuity’
of child and adult creativity in everyone represented
a synthesis’ the two opposed models of twentieth-century art education that had predominated until
this point…Read did not offer a curriculum but a theoretical defence of the genuine and
true. His claims for genuineness and truth were based on the overwhelming evidence of
characteristics revealed in his study of child art…From 1946 until his death in 1968 he
was president of the Society for Education in Art (SEA), the renamed ATG, in which capacity
he had a platform for addressing UNESCO…On the basis of such representation Read, with
others, succeeded in establishing the International Society for Education through Art (INSEA)
as an executive arm of UNESCO in 1954.””===Paul Goodman===
Paul Goodman was an important anarchist critic of contemporary educational systems as can
be seen in his books Growing Up Absurd and Compulsory Mis-education. Goodman believed
that in contemporary societies “It is in the schools and from the mass media, rather than
at home or from their friends, that the mass of our citizens in all classes learn that
life is inevitably routine, depersonalized, venally graded; that it is best to toe the
mark and shut up; that there is no place for spontaneity, open sexuality and free spirit.
Trained in the schools they go on to the same quality of jobs, culture and politics. This
is education, miseducation socializing to the national norms and regimenting to the
nation’s “needs” ” Goodman thought that a person’s most valuable
educational experiences “occur outside the school. Participation in the activities of
society should be the chief means of learning. Instead of requiring students to succumb to
the theoretical drudgery of textbook learning, Goodman recommends that education be transferred
into factories, museums, parks, department stores, etc, where the students can actively
participate in their education…The ideal schools would take the form of small discussion
groups of no more than twenty individuals. As has been indicated, these groups would
utilize any effective environment that would be relevant to the interest of the group.
Such education would be necessarily non-compulsory, for any compulsion to attend places authority
in an external body disassociated from the needs and aspirations of the students. Moreover,
compulsion retards and impedes the students’ ability to learn.” As far as the current educational
system Goodman thought that “The basic intention behind the compulsory attendance laws is not
only to insure the socialization process but also to control the labour supply quantitatively
within an industrialized economy characterized by unemployment and inflation. The public
schools and universities have become large holding tanks of potential workers.”===Ivan Illich===
The term deschooling was popularized by Ivan Illich, who argued that the school as an institution
is dysfunctional for self-determined learning and serves the creation of a consumer society
instead. Illich thought that “the dismantling of the public education system would coincide
with a pervasive abolition of all the suppressive institutions of society”. Illich “charges
public schooling with institutionalizing acceptable moral and behavioral standards and with constitutionally
violating the rights of young adults…IIlich subscribes to Goodman’s belief that most
of the useful education that people acquire is a by-product of work or leisure and not
of the school. Illich refers to this process as “informal education”. Only through this
unrestricted and unregulated form of learning can the individual
gain a sense of self-awareness and develop his creative capacity to its fullest extent.”.
Illich thought that the main goals of an alternative education systems should be “to provide access
to available resources to all who want to learn: to empower
all who want to share what they know; to find those who want to learn it from them; to furnish
all who want to present an issue to the public with the opportunity to make their challenges
known. The system of learning webs is aimed at individual freedom and expression in education
by using society as the classroom. There would be reference services to index items available
for study in laboratories, theatres, airports, libraries, etc.; skill exchanges which would
permit people to list their skills so that potential students could contact them; peer-matching,
which would communicate an individual’s interest so that he or she could find educational associates;
reference services to educators at large, which would be a central directory of professionals,
para professionals and freelancers.”.===Colin Ward===
English anarchist Colin Ward in his main theoretical publication Anarchy in Action (1973) in a
chapter called “Schools No Longer” “discusses the genealogy of education and schooling,
in particular examining the writings of Everett Reimer and Ivan Illich, and the beliefs of
anarchist educator Paul Goodman. Many of Colin’s writings in the 1970s, in particular Streetwork:
The Exploding School (1973, with Anthony Fyson), focused on learning practices and spaces outside
of the school building. In introducing Streetwork, Ward writes, “[this] is a book about ideas:
ideas of the environment as the educational resource, ideas of the enquiring school, the
school without walls…”. In the same year, Ward contributed to Education Without Schools
(edited by Peter Buckman) discussing ‘the role of the state’. He argued that “one
significant role of the state in the national education systems of the world is to perpetuate
social and economic injustice””.In The Child in the City (1978), and later The Child in
the Country (1988), Ward “examined the everyday spaces of young people’s lives and how they
can negotiate and re-articulate the various environments they inhabit. In his earlier
text, the more famous of the two, Colin Ward explores the creativity and uniqueness of
children and how they cultivate ‘the art of making the city work’. He argued that
through play, appropriation and imagination, children can counter adult-based intentions
and interpretations of the built environment. His later text, The Child in the Country,
inspired a number of social scientists, notably geographer Chris Philo (1992), to call for
more attention to be paid to young people as a ‘hidden’ and marginalised group in
society.”==Bibliography==Archer, William. The Life, Trial, and Death
of Francisco Ferrer. London: Chapman and Paul. 1911
Avrich, Paul. The Modern School Movement: Anarchism and Education in the United States.
AK Press, Jan 30, 2006 Boyd, Carol. P. The Anarchists and education
in Spain. (1868-1909). The Journal of Modern History. Vol. 48. No. 4. (Dec. 1976)
Ferm, Elizabeth Byrne. Freedom in Education. New York: Lear Publishers. 1949
Goodman, Paul. Compulsory Mis-Education. New York: Horizon. 1964
Graubard, Allen. Free the Children: Radical Reform and the Free School Movement. New York:
Pantheon. 1973 Hemmings, Ray. Children’s Freedom: A. S.
Neill and the Evolutions of the Summerhill Idea. London: Allen & Unwin. 1972
Illich, Ivan. Deschooling Society. 1971. ISBN 0-06-012139-4.
Jandric, Petar. “Wikipedia and education: anarchist perspectives and virtual practices.”
Journal for Critical Education Policy Studies, vol.8. no.2
Jensen, Derrick. Walking on Water: Reading, Writing, and Revolution, Chelsea Green, 2005,
ISBN 978-1-931498-78-4 Stirner, Max. “The False Principle of Our
Education – or Humanism and Realism.” [1] . Rheinische Zeitung. April 1842
Suissa, Judith. Anarchism and Education: a Philosophical Perspective. Routledge. New
York. 2006 Suissa, Judith. “Anarchy in the classroom”.
New Humanist. Volume 120. Issue 5 September/October 2005==See also==
Anarchistic free school Alternative education
Democratic education==References====
External links==Media related to Anarchism and education at
Wikimedia Commons Anarchist texts on education at the Anarchist
Library

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