What happens when we engage with high profile people to share their views on something they admittedly know nothing about.
A lot of misconceptions and untruths! This is exactly what transpired when Michelle Constant – SAFM #Jetset Breakfast talk show host invited Mary Metcalfe, former MEC for Education to share her views on unschooling and how it differs from homeschooling.
At the outset, Mary confesses to not knowing that much about unschooling beyond hearing about it when she herself was a student. But she and Michelle felt quite confident to proceed. Mary raised many misgivings. All of them rooted in her ignorance of the unschooling community and in the philosophy. The show must go on right!
Mary Metcalfe on SAFM
Here’s the recording of the conversation with Mary.
Zakiyya Ismail on SAFM
It was painful to listen to, and I felt compelled to respond to some of the points in the twitter thread (Screenshots below). I was then invited to the show to chat to Michelle to share some insider insight.
Here’s the recording of the conversation with myself.
Screenshots of Twitter Response
1/1 1/1 Having listened to this conversation now, there are a few things I want to respond to.
2/1 First of all let’s agree that we stay away from making broad generalisations based on that one person/family incident we met/heard of to dismiss a whole way of living or a whole system.
2/2 Proponents for compulsory standardised schooling would lose because there are way too many examples of failings of schooling that we could then use to dismantle compulsory schooling.
3/1 Yes, humans are complex. How then can we justify a standardised schooling system for all different kinds of minds and personalities. Everybody learning exactly the same thing in the same way at the same time?
3/2 Industrialised monocultures of the mind is an unhealthy formula for a healthy and diverse society. There is no good reason to restrict people to one kind of system of learning when there are so many ways of knowing, if we are invested in what is good for society.
4/1 I have to question this subset of knowledge that we all have to know -this the school curriculum? Let me confess that I would fail the current matric exam if I had to write it today. Yet I function perfectly well without that knowledge.
4/2 There are other skills and knowledge that are essential for me to function in this world that I did not learn in formal education. I suspect that I am not the only one. I would venture to say that our society would not function if all we knew is what we learned in formal school
5/1 WRT socialising: People socialise everywhere all the time. Social Interactions – a wide range of them are what we all need to grow as social beings. A healthy social environment is one where there is interaction and mutual respect across all ages for all people.
5/2 School style socialising forced association and more about conforming to a socially prescribed way of being rather than expression of our authentic selves..
6/1 There’s a stereotype that emerged out of the conversation that unschoolers and homeschoolers only socialise with themselves. And live in silos! It really should be obvious that this is impossible to do.
6/2 FWIW the unschooling community is consists of a wide range of identities: racial, gender, socio economic, religious etc.
6/3 It should also be obvious, but let me just say that unschoolers have a range of interests from LGBTQ rights, endangered species, veganism, living consciously, One Direction, K-Pop, gaming and a whole lot more.
6/4 That people interact within narrow bands, such as socio economic class, religion etc.. is a characteristic of society in general and also prevalent practice is families whose children attend private schools or religious schools. And yes, it’s not ideal. And the school system doesn’t fix this.
7/1 There’s an implied stereotyping that emerged from the conversation that the unschooling community excludes LGBTQs – PSA – There are same sex unschooling families, there are unschooling families where the children re gender non conforming.
7/2 What is ironic though is the fact the LGBTQ community has to do so much work to end discrimination against them by our society – a predominantly schooled society. While we’re at it the racism and sexism we see in our society also comes from the schooled community.
8/1 As to the suggestion that you would rather have parents stay and keep their children in the system even when they are being bullied or facing emotional difficulties is disturbing. It’s almost as if you’re not seeing children as human beings.
8/2 That whatever pain they’re going through is acceptable collateral damage for the greater good. This argument sounds eerily familiar to women being encouraged to stay in abusive marriages to protect the sanctity of marriage and keep society intact.
8/3 No child should ever be forced to stay in situations that they are unhappy in – it doesn’t make for the emergence of strong resilient adults, it makes for hurt and hurting adults. It makes for increased mental health issues, it makes for increased suicide. I feel like I need to say this again, the suggestion that pain that young people that are having difficulties in school due to bullying is acceptable collateral damage is abhorrent. Children are human beings.
8/4 I feel like I need to say this again, the suggestion that pain that young people that are having difficulties in school due to bullying is acceptable collateral damage is abhorrent. Children are human beings.
8/5 The other reason why the advice to stay in the system and change it from inside makes little sense is because we have no power to effect change. School reform has been ongoing since the beginning of schooling.
8/6 And who are schools accountable to anyway? Not to the children they server. Or the parents. They really can act with impunity because children have no power. They did not consent to being there and have no say in what and how they’re learning.
8/7 “Just see the year through and next year will be a different teacher” seems to be the mantra. The schooling system has a similar mantra, just see the year through and these troublesome parents will move onto another teacher.
8/8 We don’t all forego our private transportation to continue using and trying to change the public transportation system. So let’s not make children do what we’re not willing to do ourselves.
9/1 That word skeptical is not accurate. Skeptical implies that we have some doubt. There is no doubt – the evidence of the failing of industrial schooling is overwhelming.
Homeschooling and Unschooling is growing globally, and a range of Self Directed Education spaces are opening up all over the world. I would much rather we together explore these options and provide a wide variety of ways for people to travel and their learning journeys.
It’s a pity I can’t spell skeptical properly 🙁