Free Progress Education

Indy Edition (2017)
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Schools, colleges, and universities have become homogenizing systems that are almost exclusively focused on imposing a pre-ordered curricula through exams and grades or tight research lines. In the process, they are killing passion, creativity, and individuals’ potential and skills. Ultimately, schools and academia make up a system that serves a collective machinery but suffocates individual growth. This state of affairs is not a necessary evil. Learning, discovering and teaching can be a natural, spontaneous and luminous expressions of a free and progressive growth if they are allowed to be practiced in an appropriate environment. This is a ‘manifesto’ for a Free-Progress-Education (FPE) paradigm according to which the best way of learning, acquiring knowledge, and doing research comes through a process of free self-directed learning, and a progress of self-unfoldment and self-discovery, that must be guided from within. In schools, colleges, universities and beyond. A FPE learning centre would be expected to foster curiosity, intuition, self-directed-learning in diversity, and, especially, wholesome respect for the practice of complete and responsible freedom of individual expression.FPE goes beyond the standard paradigm of unschooling or the pedagogical approach of democratic schools since it includes self-directed-education that can also work in high schools, colleges, universities, and research centres. It iAfter a brief introductory presentation, a personal preamble of the author describes his experiences with institutionalized learning from childhood to the doctoral dissertation and in a high school as a teacher. Then, the roots of the stagnant state of education will be investigated which is still based on an industrial and mechanistic mindset, and is perceived with increasing dissatisfaction. While analysing the detrimental effects that a managerial and industrial mentality has had on the education and intellectual growth of several generations, we will take as an example the deficiencies of the so-called big science, i.e. of the modern, large-scale scientific initiatives. Surveying past and present learning approaches such as the interesting renaissance of homeschooling and welcoming new trends such as unschooling or democratic education, the second part of this book looks beyond these paradigms searching for a wider spirit of education. It is emphasized that no reform is possible inside the current school and university paradigm, because it is in its essence an authoritarian system that won't allow itself to be dismantled from within. The last part of this book focuses upon a brief set of alternative proposals, which aim at overcoming the centuries-old shortcomings of the present educational system, by favouring intrinsic over extrinsic motivation. Preliminary practical ideas are put forward on what a free-progress learning community might look like, and what the first steps for its realization might be. It is explained there why it is only through a change from the ground up that the certificate-oriented educational system can transform itself into a project-oriented, self-organized, competence-portfolio based one, with no exams, grades, degrees, or other administrative trammels. At the same time, it must be made clear that the ultimate aim of doing away with the present system of assessment criteria would be to install a much deeper and articulated paradigm shift than some superficial reform and even beyond the actually undeveloped democratic education concept which still falls short beyond high-school level. What is visualized is an evolutionary pedagogical perspective, compared to the conventional one, and presented as the necessary condition for a 'Copernican approach' to education. Only after that perspective has been realized can new competences, curiosity, intuition, and real forms of creative learning return to flourish in schools and academia.

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