big everything

(reworked) The decline of Main Street, the transfer of wealth ever upward, manufacturing in steep decline, and small business now defined as maximum  "The size standard for most retail trade industries is $7.0 million in average annual receipts. [retail]"    If that is small, then only the big institutions remain.  Now a citizen needs to spend far more time within an institution in order to get another job within a big institution and change is negotiated between these institutions as each guards its income stream.
  • big school systems
  • agribusiness 
  • multinational corporations 
  • prisons
  • universities and medical centers
  • hospital complexes
  • chains and franchises
  • government agencies
  • permanent war
These large institutions are not democratic in design:  corporations are currently being looted by their own boards.  Huge bonuses are not just too much money for one person:  they also drain resources from the business itself.  There is no democracy within the schools or the corporations but we are all trying to live within these institutions now with fewer rights than ever and many old tyrannies replacing the opportunities we once had.  Prisons, for example, are the new Jim Crow institutions and the Pentagon engages in permanent war?  No one means for it to go this way but life within these institutions creates its own massive landscape where we wander on automatic: building weapon systems and trying to make it work.

That is why fundamental change means opening ways out of large institutions to create more human- scale lives where citizens can live with quality and dignity. We are so institutionalized in our thinking, that as homeschoolers, we spend a great deal of time talking about education, the history of education, how we learn and don't learn, what's worth learning, and how kids can make a productive life and earn their way.

Support Social Infrastructure
Regardless of the approach to homeschooling, homeschooling itself often establishes strong human relationships for children.  These relationships are for children like the soil is for plants: the basis you must create and build upon.  Human scale relationships within the family usually provide a good base for children and the support groups and publications and blogs all testify to the seriousness and care that most families spend on building their family life.  It is not an ideal world except for perhaps some but it is a human world with strong relationships, a vital need of children far past the current push for independence at ever younger ages.  A wide variety of families build stronger relationships by working on learning together and that is something that schools could help strengthen in all families if families were offered services and asked to be involved at levels we do not consider today. Schools could become places where families extend beyond themselves to learn and share together.

This pattern of change is necessary across the board to decentralize, democratize and strengthen the control and input of citizens.  Our food depends on the smallest micro-organisms within healthy soil.  And our democracy and stability as a nation depends on the access, participation and effective control by citizens at the lowest levels.

For schools, this means devolving real power down to the families and the child.  The child will benefit from a healthy relationship between the family and the learning institution which cannot occur if families are subject to school police.  And that has only served to alter the institution away from serving families.  Schools now orient themselves toward a centralized hierarchy of professionals: they need to turn and face another way, they need to turn in service toward their communities and the families that need and want services.

Or they will become an adjunct to the prison system, subsumed into that industry, as they grade, test and fine families as well as children who do not perform well enough, and, in doing so, they generate their own jobs.  We are moving far, far away from local schools that help kids learn a few skills [pre-WWII] or even a system that provided a free diploma that guaranteed a family-sustaining job [post-WWII].

A Floor Holds Up the Roof
In the interview below, Dr. Randall Wray discusses the idea of putting in place an economic floor (or guaranteed safety net like other countries do) to ensure our economic house is stable and doesn't collapse.   An economic floor provides a base that no one can fall past, that ensures citizens do not become victims of systems that feed on destruction and thereby obliterate the entire economy.  It is a fail-safe plan.  Europe put these in place after WWII when they had first-hand experience of massive economic collapse and war.

Schools need a floor, too, a level below which you cannot fall or fail, a level which ensures that families and kids of all learning abilities can access and use educational services to grow their skills as well as enrich their lives and communities.  That means removing at least some grading and testing to open areas for learning and growing without penalty.  Children deserve better treatment even if we don't know how to provide everyone a good job, we can stop trying to use schools to penalize kids for being poor or tired or hungry. Whatever sorting the job market needs or wants can be done at point of entry.  There is good science that our procedures of grading and testing actually dumb kids down. And schools could become supportive, socially positive communities by making them service providers with a focus on families.

  • Stop Grading - phase in portfolios and feedback until later in secondary level when children can choose to go on record and build a portfolio for work/college
  • Expand Services - classes all day and into the evening and Saturdays and families can choose what they need 
  • Voluntary Attendance - get the police out of education and move toward a truly non-authoritarian, democratic culture

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