Anarchism and Education

‘Become not only a means of life, but also the highest want in life’

Marx ( I know he is not strictly and anarchist but the quotation is strikingly apt)

I’ve been reading an introduction to Anarchism by Noam Chomsky ( which has been very enthralling and I plan to read more into the subject ). A conversation/ argument I had with my sister got me thinking about the oppressive force of the British Education system from age 4 – 18 in this context.

From a young age we are made to sit exams, SATs at age 12, GCSEs at age 16 and A-levels at age 18. These exams are largely pitched to students as if they will change the course of your life. If one ( or in some cases your parents ) plans to attend a grammar or private school the number of exams increases. Failure in these exams ( which can be affected by external factors such as illness, location and time )is largely synonymous to failure in life in our society. This is an idea I have a bone to pick with.

My question is why do we gear children to prepare for to sit arbitrary jump hoops which are exams when we should be expending energy on allowing them to grasp the joy of learning. My sister, with a year between her GCSEs is already worrying about revision. Studying teaches discipline, I agree. But for many studying isn’t done in an effective manner so even discipline isn’t learnt. Furthermore, it becomes a rote reflex, not an active engagement in ideas which have been developed over the expanse of human intellectual history. They aren’t questioning, they are just doing.

‘The free unhindered unfolding of all the individual and social forces in life’

David Guerin

Perhaps education should take an anarchist stance. Breaking free from the forces of power ( which cannot be justified ) imposed in the form of bureaucratic exams. By promoting an active role in learning, through adventure, academia, or a vocational enterprise learning would ‘become not only a means of life, but also the highest want of life’. Why do we limit the creativity of the future inhabitant of our society by constraining them from questioning from the get go-producing ‘a fragment of a human being’ at age 18? Is it a form of oppression? I would say so.

Argue with me (or correct my anarchist terminology as I am still a novice) on Twitter @aatqaarham

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