Thursday 10 January 2013

Prisons for Children

A recent article in the Daily Mail reported that just under 10,000 parents a year are now being convicted over their children’s truancy.   Of these, 6,438 were fined, 473 undertook community service and 11 were jailed.   Or to put it another way, 6,438 had money stolen from them, 473 were entered into forced works programs and 11 were abducted from their homes and thrown into cages. This is the way we would see it if it were a group other than the State dishing out the punishment.

This is all because 56,500 children are not attending school without seeking permission on a daily basis.  The problem has gotten so bad that armed gangs (also known as the police) are forcing their way into peoples houses, abducting children who don't wish to attend and 'escorting' them there in patrol cars.

At no point is it suggested that the schools themselves may be in any way to blame for these figures, there's even an insert claiming that bullying is actually the fault of overly protective parents, seriously. That there might be something morally wrong and unproductive about forcing children to attend schools whether they want to or not isn't considered.  A bit like smacking, there's a different set of rules for children than adults.

It's interesting to me to consider what this level of coercion says about the way in which our society views children.   Not very highly I would suggest.  I'm not saying we don't care about them, quite the opposite, we're prepared to enact massive amounts of coercive violence to ensure they are educated, what could be more loving than that?   But what this suggests to me is that we believe children need to be forced to do anything that is good for them, if we didn't force them then the vast majority would arrive at age eighteen unable to spell even their own names having spent their entire lives glued to video games.

The video below is a mind map animation (very good animation) of a lecture given by Sir Ken Robinson in which he explores the problems of our schooling system. He points out that it arises from an industrial revolution mind set, that it runs counter-intuitive to the way in which we approach every other aspect of life and that children increasingly need to be drugged just to get through it.  Personally I think that the State's involvement in education is the root of the problem and I'm not advocating replacing the current form of fascist schooling with a more warm and fuzzy one.   However Sir Ken does point right at the dysfunction in the current system and offers creative and inspiring alternatives, alternatives that I believe education will only be able to provide when it breaks free of its control by the State.  

Link to Daily Mail article:

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