15 février 2017

Mettre fin à l'éducation coercitive

Le professeur Peter Gray a pondu ce texte fort intéressant pour Psychology Today qui mérite vraiment d'être lu. En voici quelques extraits:

(...) How can I believe that our system of compulsory (forced) schooling is about to collapse? 

(...) It occupies more of children’s time, gobbles up more public funds, employs more people, and is more firmly controlled by government (...) than has ever been true in the past.  So why do I believe it’s going to collapse—slowly at first and then more rapidly—over the next ten years or so?  Here are four reasons (...):

1.  Our coercive schools have become increasingly and evermore obviously harmful to kids.

Decades ago, schools were tolerable primarily because they didn’t take too much of young people’s time. (...) But over the years, the school system has intruded increasingly, and ever more disruptively, into children’s and families’ lives.  The length of the school year has increased (it now averages 5 weeks longer than in the 1950s).  The number of years of required attendance has increased.  The amount of homework has increased immensely, especially in elementary schools.  Recesses have been reduced, or even been eliminated.  Fun activities, such as art and music, have regularly been dropped from curricula in favor of more time for worksheets and test preparation.  Teachers have been given less freedom to depart from the standard curriculum, and ever-greater pressure has been placed on children to score high on standardized tests.

Children now often spend more time at school and at homework than their parents spend at their full-time jobs, and the work of schooling is often more burdensome and stress-inducing than that of a typical adult job.  A century ago we came to the conclusion that full-time child labor was child abuse, so we outlawed it; but now school is the equivalent of full-time child labor.

The increased time, tedium, and stress of schooling is bringing many kids to the breaking point or beyond, and more and more people are becoming aware of that. 

(...) Verbal abuse from teachers is a common occurrence.  In one survey, for example, 64% of middle school students reported experiencing stress symptoms because of verbal abuse from teachers. Another study revealed that nearly 30% of boys are verbally abused by teachers in kindergarten, and the abuse increased in years after that. Surveys of adults indicate that between 50% and 60% recall school-related experiences that, in their view, were psychologically traumatic.

(...) Hair cortisol levels in young children were found to be significantly higher in samples taken two months after starting elementary school than in samples taken two months prior to starting elementary school. Hair cortisol level is reflective of chronic stress, the sort of stress that can seriously impair physical growth and health.

(...) At present, 20% of school-aged boys are given the diagnosis ADHD, a “disorder” that is largely defined in terms of failure to adapt to the tedium of schooling, and most of that group are treated with strong drugs to get them to adapt (...)

2.  Evidence has mounted that children and adolescents can educate themselves remarkably well without coercive schooling.

(...) Over the last few decades, many thousands of young people, from a wide range of backgrounds, have educated themselves through these means, and follow-up studies have shown that they are doing very well in life. They have had no apparent difficulty being admitted to or adjusting to the demands of traditional higher education, if they choose to pursue it, and they have been successful in the full range of careers that we value in our society.  As adults, they generally report that their experience with Self-Directed Education benefitted them by allowing them to develop their own interests (which often turned into careers) and by fostering such traits as personal responsibility, initiative, creativity, curiosity, critical thinking, and ability to communicate well with people regardless of status. 

(...) At some point, when everyone sees the evidence, the gates will open and the coercive schools will begin to empty out.  People will begin to demand that some of the public funds currently spent on coercive schools be spent on learning centers and other facilities that support Self-Directed Education, so all families, regardless of income, will have that option.

3.  Self-Directed Education is easier to pursue now than it was in the past.

(...) One reason for this lies in the increased numbers of families taking this route and, consequently, the increased acceptability of Self-Directed Education in the culture at large.  

(...) Another reason for the increased ease of Self-Directed Education lies in technology.  Today, anyone with a computer and Internet connection can access essentially all the world’s information. Self-directed learners who want to pursue almost any subject can find articles, videos, discussion groups, and even online courses devoted to it.  

4.  Changes in the economy favor the skills developed by Self-Directed Education.

Because of changes in how we make our livings, the skills exercised by coercive schooling are even less valuable, and those exercised by Self-Directed Education are even even more valuable, now than they were in the past.  We don’t need people who can memorize and regurgitate lots of information; we have Google for that.  We don’t need many people to do routine, tedious tasks dictated by others; we have robots for that.

What we do need, and will continue to need, are people who think critically and creatively, innovate, ask and answer questions that nobody else has thought of, and bring moral values and a passionate sense of purpose into the workplace.  These are the kinds of skills that are continuously honed in Self-Directed Education.  In coercive schools, the requirement that everyone follow the same curriculum, motivated by reward and punishment rather than genuine interest, guarantees that most students will not develop passionate interests, deep understanding, or a sense of purpose other than that of making it through the next hoop.

(...) Stupidly, in recent times we’ve tried to “fix” the schools by doing more of what doesn’t work.  But that can’t go on forever.  The revolution will come not because authorities within the coercive school system become enlightened, but because a growing number of families who are victims of that system will realize that they have an option—a good option—and they will take it.



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