Friday, February 3, 2012

On Education II

[My earlier musing on education is here.]

My children are bilingual, German and English. They both attend bilingual schools. In the case of our younger daughter, this is still a primary school (Grundschule) which insists the children are more or less locked in from eight in the morning till four in the afternoon. On top of this they receive plenty of homework. She is at home this week on holiday, but has three projects to complete, plus plenty of new French vocabulary to learn for a test on Monday morning, her first day back. Our elder daughter is at gymnasium, kind of like an English grammar school, and there it is much easier. The days are shorter, the homework load lighter. Odd, but true.

Both of our daughters had (our youngest still has) a particular German/maths teacher neither responds well too. Their grades were/are poor in both subjects. This sets up additional stress, because every child receives a recommendation from the primary school to go to the higher quality gymnasiums, if and only if their grade average is very high (2.3). Grading at primary school is far harsher than at the gymnasium. Under 98% is a 2. 98-99% is a 1-, 100% is a 1. So you need to be consistently in the high 90s to get a recommendation. I consider this to be a considerable amount of stress for eight- to ten-year-olds to bear. On top of that, it is only in rare cases the primary school teachers children are assigned to actually enjoy their job and are good at it. In the case of our younger child, my wife and I would like to home school her, at least in her weak areas, since we feel it would be better suited to her particular personality and needs. This is illegal in Germany. Parents have been sent to prison for keeping their children out of school, or had their children taken from them. In 2007, a German couple fled Germany to the US. The US granted them political asylum in 2008. I believe the pair are now US citizens.

This is a very odd and harmful situation, to my mind. In my post on health insurance, my main point was that the state is a clumsy machine incapable of dealing with individual situations. There are instances when parents are more harmful to their children than a state school would be, true. But there are occasions when the opposite is true, and the work of John Taylor Gatto, John Holt and Sir Ken Robinson suggests the latter far outweighs the former. It is my strongly held belief, that not one element of what I believe is necessary to change cultural direction—away from Consumerism and Growthism towards more sustainable and healthy social systems—is possible until education is aligned with what our future (and present, by extension) demands of us. Education is, for me, absolutely pivotal in our transition towards a more rational and less robotic human future. The Khan Academy (thanks for the tip, Farmgirl!) is one example of how we might begin opening up education, and allowing passion and fun to bring a juicy vitality back to life’s most fundamental process; learning.

Below is my translation of an article by Rainer Hank which appeared in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in Novermber, 2007. I hope you find it at least food for thought. One part of it which stood out for me was the (up to) $1000 a month given by the Canadian state to parents home schooling their children. This is how I imagine a guaranteed income might help ‘free’ people from the state, or minimise the depth to which it seeks to control our lives. It would also ‘privatise’ or ‘localise’ education down to community level, causing money to cycle through the community in both a GDP- and society-friendly way. The Internet might expand this out across the planet, and connect learners everywhere. The Canadian example demonstrates, to my mind, how a guaranteed income would not be about people no longer having to work, but freeing them to work in areas closer to their hearts.

On to the translation:

"School in Germany is a matter for the state. Whoever wants to open a private school must reckon with great difficulties. Whoever teaches their own children or sends them to a private tutor has the police to deal with. For they would be committing a misdemeanour.

In Germany, compulsory schooling is absolute and punishable. To most of us, that sounds natural, self-evident even. But it is not, neither historically nor on the European or even international stage. German compulsory schooling is, if we forget a few dictators, the exception and not the rule. In most other countries, there is instead a monitored compulsory education. Whether or not children go to school to cover the required curriculum is up to them (and their parents and caregivers).

Compulsory education, not schooling

Why is it in no other free country of this world, parents who would like to raise their children are as harshly criminalised as in ours? After the crimes of National Socialism there was, supposedly,  a quiet and amicable agreement between parents and state, that bringing up children to be democratically capable of cooperating in a successful commonwealth, was inalienable, and that this upbringing could only be organised through the state, (so argues Volker Ladenthin, a pedagog from Bonn). German parents have a deeper trust in the Caregiver State than our neighbours in other countries.

And they have every right to have it. But why are parents who want to raise their children themselves kept forcefully from their wish? Wouldn’t compulsory education be superior to state compulsory education? Wilhelm von Humboldt (1767 to 1835), the German education reformer worried about the state as raiser of children. “If education is only there, irrespective of particular civic forms granted the people, to educate people, so it lies not in the remit of the state.” Compulsory state education, in Humboldt’s opinion, leads to parents delegating to the state their responsibilities to raise their own, for which there is a high price to be paid: instead of free and educated people, school children become state residents, that is, underlings.

A poorly justified monopoly

The state’s education monopoly is indeed poorly justified—as with most monopolies. Financially, we are asked to believe it is more efficient to teach children in classes than for families to seek private tutors and governors (for a statistical 1.3 children), or to prevent parents from teaching their young. State-trained teachers guarantee, it is claimed, a certain professionalism in the manufacturing of the education “product.”

But not only do repeated Pisa Studies speak against the quality of the state’s performance, so too does a growing emigration into private schools. Were there the freedom to teach children at home, no doubt parents would take advantage of it. At the latest, it would be clear where the better education was to be found after prescribed tests. In all countries where education has been decentralised, such freedom has been met with approval, albeit with a three to four percent of parents actually “home-schooling”—although with a strongly rising trend. Even in Austria, home-schooling has recently been allowed. Parents in Canada receive up to $1000 a month to educate their children at home. Such largesse helps level the playing field, reduces the state’s advantage.

What should be the rule, what the exception?

Originally, compulsory schooling was not the rule, but the exception. “Compulsory schooling was introduced, because those classes who saw the least need for school kept their children at home to help with digging up potatoes and harvesting the grain”, says the pedagog Ladenthin. This was damaging to their children. The offer of subsidiarity, which in Germany receives high praise in commemorative speeches, says: The state need only intervene when the private sphere fails. The state may only protect schoolchildren from their parents when it fears education is kept from them, or when they are being dangerously indoctrinated.

And with that a weighty objection to home-schooling can be swept to one side. Many contemporaries fear radical or religious groups could abuse home-schooling, and raise their children as enemies of European values and the rule of law. But the fear of parallel worlds is there and cannot be dismissed. Even if we overlook that state schools don’t prevent parallel worlds (Neukölln [a rough part of Berlin]), the state retains the power to take children from parents who abuse or fail them.

And anyway, it will be the educated elite and not the lower classes who make use of the freedom to home school. Yes, even this assumption is tossed into the ring as an objection. Growing inequality and the increasing privilege of rich kids raised by private tutors would be the outcome, apparently. But today we have the intellectual bourgeoisie pampering their young with cello lessons, language courses and other private lessons. Or they send them off to foreign shores. That in Germany talents lie fallow, and money and social background determine educational success, is true. But state education cannot prevent that misery."

23 comments:

Jason (ReportsFromEarth) said...

Toby,

I grew up going to German speaking schools. I remember how conservative and one sided the world looked to me even after I finished the A-levels (Matura) in supposedly one of the best schools in that country.

I thought most countries are more or less like Germany, Austria etc..
I thought there is only one kind of economic system and communism wasn't really talked about or eve explained much.
We also never learned where the money i.e. its value comes from or who decides what is on the news etc..

Only when I started travelling and living in other countries I started to grow up - and still do. It was amazing but also shocking - not unlike taking the red pill...

School at that time - a few decades ago - was really old fashioned behaviouristic with a lot of fear and pressure to succeed.

Much later I fell in love with John Holt's "How children learn" and still today totally agree with him. I recently realised that the Finns are now training their teachers pretty much along Holt's lines although they don't refer to him...

The teacher is coaching - not teaching. Learning is student centred. Students have a high degree of liberty and therefore also responsibility. Students are self motivated - like small children playing :)

I am currently participating in such a training program.

I also have children which grow up bilingual (English, Finnish) and I had considered homeschooling them when we lived in Australia and still do if we move to another country eventually.

I think it is legal in Finland but generally not necessary. This country does a good job with small kids. It also allows them to have a longer childhood since the kids start with school only at 7.

Maybe there is a chance to change the school or even move somewhere to improve the situation for your kids? I know how annoying it is to get taught by unsuitable teachers - although I did not have too many of that kind myself.

Frank Powers said...

Dude, where's my comment? Another go:


A good and thought-provoking blog post, dear Toby. Indeed, being German, up until recently I thought State-schooling to be a "natural" thing, sort of. Meanwhile, I'm not so sure of that anymore. That article from F.A.Z. is especially informative, I hope other people benefit from your translation.

On a different note, Franz Hörmann seems to have been suspended from university recently in relation to those allegations of anti-semitism made against him (stemming from some so far unpublished interview...) My oh my...

Toby said...

Hi Jason,

interesting life you've had so far. Multi-lingual people seem to have a better chance of opening their minds to alternative ways of thinking, especially if they have had deep expose to different cultures too. I grew up in London, have lived and worked in Germany for over a decade, and have quite a deep exposure to the Philippines via my wife. These things really help make one's own subjectivity, snobbery and bigotry plain. That is the first step in learning to celebrate diversity. You are not normal, you're just as 'weird' as everyone else. That's a great lesson to learn!

John Holt is one of my heroes. Here's one of my favourite quotes (from "Instead of Education"):

“Another common and mistaken idea hidden in the word ‘learning’ is that learning and doing are different kinds of acts. Thus, not many years ago I began to play the cello. I love the instrument, spend many hours a day playing it, work hard at it, and mean someday to play it well. Most people would say what I am doing is ‘learning to play the cello.’ Our language gives us no other words to say it. But these words carry into our minds the strange idea that there exist two very different processes: (1) learning to play the cello; and (2) playing the cello. They imply that I will stop the first process and begin the second; in short, that I will go on ‘learning to play’ until I ‘have learned to play,’ and that then I will begin ‘to play.’”

And how I wish our children had access to a high quality, children-centred education system, such as you describe in Finland. Home schooling has the challenge of exposing your kids to many other kids. In cities, because of roads and the priority given to cars, it's not possible to let kids roam and explore. School is the only area left for children to be together in numbers, and play. That is a great tragedy in my opinion.

And that is one of the hundreds of reasons why I write this blog.

Toby said...

Hi FP,

yup, Germany is a very odd country, very statist, particularly on the education side of things. And minimum wage here is an insult. In Greece the government is refusing to allow cuts to the 750 a month level. Germany is having to debate raising the mini-job from 400 to 450, and there is no minimum hourly rate at all.

I heard about Hoermann's eviction from his university, but note he welcomes the opportunity to clear this nonsense up. Apparently he is considering suing for defamation, but I have not yet looked for any more details.

To me, this is obviously a set up. Having read a lot of his work, and listened to lots of his talks, it is crystal clear to me that he is not antisemitic, and not a Nazi. The very idea is laughable. What he is, is a charismatic and able talker attacking the money system with humour, charm and patience, plus he is a professor. This baseless accusation is therefore exactly the kind of attack we should expect, or perhaps pedophilia or some other sex-crime. The Zeitgeist Movement were accused of antisemitism too. Bernd Senf has been accused of antisemitism. And I think Silvio Gesell endured those accusation 90 years ago. I'm sure there are others.

What I find most repellent about this, is the racism hidden in the logic of the racist slur. This preferred line of attack implies that the money system is run by jews, that attacking money must also be an attack on jews. The attack itself is therefore antisemitic. In truth, attacking the money system is the most human- and life-loving thing we can currently do.

Ergo, sociopaths and psychopaths are in charge. Expect to be kicked in the stomach and stabbed in the back as reward for trying to help life on earth. The gloves are coming off.

Debra said...

Interesting post, Toby.
Several years ago, on another economic blog, I suggested that we compare health care systems between different countries, because as you can imagine no two countries have the same health care/educational, you name it, system, or way of organizing social life.
France allows CHILDREN to get an education without physically removing themselves to the often megastructures where the 11-15 year olds are sometimes over 1000 together in a ratio of 1 adult for over 20.. ADOLESCENTS. Pretty.. UNBELIEVABLE, right ?
But, just like the German system, we might say that the centralized national education system is the right arm of.. THE REPUBLIC, and its PRIMARY mission is to create CITIZENS of the Republic, NOT to educate (instruct) children. In other words, the ideal is SOCIAL COHESION, which one can argue, is still a very important goal when people are living together.
While home schooling is possible here, for most people, it is unthinkable. Even.. my 21 year old DAUGHTER believes that children would not get enough social contact through home schooling... although... SHE WAS HOME SCHOOLED FOR THE LAST TWO YEARS before trotting off to England.
You might say... that I indoctrinated her rather well to my... loony ideas, and some people would have no problem at all saying that..
As for "what is good for the children", perhaps it would be best to keep in mind that Socrates was executed for "corrupting the youth of Athens"..
A very sobering thought...
Ha.... my word verification... "bless".
Neat. ;-)

Debra said...

On a very general level, I note that the AUTHORITY and the LEGITIMACY of the STATE to order all aspects of our modern lives continue to be questioned, and subsequently weakened...
The consequences will be (I think) less SOCIAL cohesion ? A return to a desire to REINVEST the family and THE HOME (because attacks against HOME SCHOOLING are ALSO attacks against the legitimacy of the home...).
To me, that's good news.
Because I think we should be spending MORE TIME AT HOME. (And think of all the money that MIGHT SAVE...)

Toby said...

Excellent comments, Debbie. I talk of cohesion often, so your point is well made. I hope, or flatter myself to believe, there is a far looser cohesion which is counter-intuitively more cohesive precisely because it is less paranoid, less controlling, wilder, more trusting. We don't have anything to fear from chaos, because chaos does not exist.

As for the home as nucleus of society, I'm not so sure, unless the home opens up to the community, and does not get paranoid like a mini-state. Child-rearing is best when children are exposed to a wide variety of personality types, people with different strengths and weaknesses, that sort of thing. And if things proceed as they should—not as they will—I think this looser cohesion will have a profound impact too on the institution of marriage and thus the home. A guaranteed income, for example, frees women from needing a bread winner. That's a big deal for many women. Now, I'm not for uniformity, but more fairness, or better sense in valuing the role of motherhood and homemaker, and guaranteed income has that up its sleeve too.

Debra said...

I have nothing against guaranteed income, Toby, except to remark... WHO is going to guarantee it, and at what level ?
Will guaranteeing income necessitate a very bureaucratic, "lourd", complicated SOCIAL system, which could be totally counterproductive to what we are looking to promote ?
Thus far, we seem to continue to promote the idea that the impersonal institutions with PAID, SPECIALIZED, HIGHLY SKILLED AND EXPERT WORKERS will do a better job of organizing our lives than we possibly could at an individual level, and at this point we have pushed the primacy of these.. BELIEFS to a point where it is quasi impossible for anybody who wants to do things differently to be able to do so.

Toby said...

Well, the system. But the question is the same as asking who'll guarantee you'll take your next breath, or that the sun will be there, or that air will stay breathable? No one. The systems which enable these things 'guarantee' they carry on being and doing. No one 'guarantees' any part of nature. It is self-organizing. The money system should move in that direction, and that's why I like Charles Eisenstein's suggestion of negative interest currency. The amount of money in the economy shrinks by a certain amount 'automatically.' That amount is 'automatically' re-injected into the system as 'guaranteed' income. Of course it won't be perfect, but we should not expect perfection of anything.

In German, guaranteed income is called "bedingungsloses Einkommen", which means you don't earn it, and everyone gets it. Bedingungslos does not mean guaranteed, it means
'no questions asked, everyone qualifies.' Universal, in other words. Another English phrase for the same concept is "social dividend". Everyone alive benefits from human ingenuity at some basic level. I think that makes good sense.

Debra said...

We're still talking about the economy of grace, with your above comment.
Perhaps that is why it is very important to find another way of naming it than NEGATIVE INTEREST, if possible.
And grace does not arise from subtracting anything from anything with the idea of a FIXED point of departure or arrival, and CONTROLLING EVERYTHING. Money generates money. Like grace generates grace, in a very organic manner. But there are better ways of generating money than interest, that's for sure...
The four fundamental operations have an extremely philosophical and spiritual underpinning..

Toby said...

The people from Wissensmanufaktur, Andreas Popp and Rico Albrecht, call it Fliessendes Geld or Flowing Money. Maybe Liquid Money, or something along those lines... But I don't really like either, and can think of nothing else.

Any other suggestions?

Debra said...

Flowing money ? Not bad. The best among the choices, in my opinion.

Debra said...

Toby, do you ever wonder if our big bang theory which gives the universe as continually expanding (at this time, at least...) could be the image of our social cohesion too ??
Matter splitting up and expanding into greater and greater distances....

Toby said...

Not sure, Debbie. We have fear-based social cohesion, which is fragile and fractious. The ways in which this might be a reflection of other properties of universal expansion are lost on me, but more important to my mind is if an absence of fear can do a better job, if we can need each other enough without fear binding us. And that topic I explored in "To belong or not to belong, that is the value". It's very complex of course, and we cannot know the answer in advance, but I believe we are being pushed and/or are pushing ourselves in that direction. This is all of course part of Universe which has no beginning and no end. Hence, the Big Bang is most likely a projection of ours anyway. It's so "let there be light" it's funny...

swiss said...

Hello Toby,

thank you for your links. Ken Robinsons is fantastic and I also viewed "Astra Taylor on the Unschooled Life" (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LwIyy1Fi-4Q&feature=player_detailpage).

Some ideas:
1) O´Neill, Daniela - Preschool Children's Narratives and Performance on the Peabody Individualized Achievement Test
(http://www.arts.uwaterloo.ca/~doneill/papers/Storytelling%20and%20math.pdf)
In this study the scientists can demonstrate a connection between the ability of story-telling and math skills...
Maybe you can enhance math skills with regularly practice of story telling (your daughters invent stories and tell them to you). It is far from proved, it is a guess, but worth trying... Something you can do now, a thing which is fun for your family and the language skills are also trained...

2) Sports, in his book "Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain" from John Ratey I read about Naperville and their success in academic achievment and reduction of obesity. This book is so full of words, sentences and anectodes, but the clear proof (in form of a linked study) is never given. I searched hours in the net, but I found nothing written. I guess the results are true (higher academic achievement levels and a dropping obesity rate).
How:
The pupils do a harsh running routine (1,6miles with 70% maximal heart rate) before class every day. If you find anything documented about Naperville pls let me know.

3) Manfred Spitzer - Aufklärung 2.0 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sXuSVZfzXAw&feature=player_detailpage).
A) Only through writing down 4 times a year what are your aims and in what you are good pushes the academic success (for low-achiver more dramastically).
B) Giving girls the right messages (a study with varied text messages) brings them to the same level like boys (there is no achievment gap).

Maybe you try it.

-------


There is an endless amount on books about this topic. And when you dive into this field you find all the time new and fascinating aspects.

Where to start, where to end, what should be set in practice, what works (Montessori, Emilia Romana, Gesamtschule, Amy Tang, Antiautoritär, Odenwaldschule, homeschooling, unschooling and millions more)???

What is the aim and what are the measures?

If germany really is a lamer, I don´t know. There are some aspects, which are in some countries better than in others. But how do you measure the success (standardized tests like pisa?, IQ).
Or is the "happiness-level" more meaningful for a fullfilled live (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fXIeFJCqsPs&feature=player_detailpage)?

In my opinion there are no systems at the time (or for only a very small percentage of kids), which brings out the potential from every child. The topics creativity and inner motivation are well contributed (in tons of literature), but I do not see anywhere in the world a practical system that is implemented.
For example inner motivation. I have thought all the time, that enforcing comments and (Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation The Search for Optimal Motivation and Performance, ISBN:0126190704) rewards (verbal rewards) foster the motivation (and finally the skill through doing it often) for doing specific tasks.
Nope, rewards in most case destroy the inner motivation.
So, most interesting questions for me are:
-How to bring the inner fire (motivation) to flare (without destroying it) in my kids
-how can I support them to discover and develop their creativity

peace and greetings
swiss

Toby said...

Hi swiss,

thanks for commenting. I just noticed now that blogger is packing your comments off to spam, probably because of all those links. On blogger I can't adjust the spam-filter, it just filters as it wants to. Sorry about that.

And I'm too busy today to comment on your comment, so will get to it tomorrow. Skimming over it, it looks full of good stuff. So, again, thanks, and till tomorrow.

swiss said...

Hi,
forgot following paper regarding inner motivation (and that rewards often are harmful).
Lepper, Nisbett und Greene:
http://fitaba.com/page16/assets/Overjustification%20Study%20-%20Leppe
r.pdf

Toby said...

Hi swiss,

that's a lot of material which will take me years to get through. Right now my focus is securing income streams, since I quit my job at the end of October to stop feeding the Consumption Beast, and pursue more of what my heart wants; language-based stuff like teaching, translation and writing.

On bringing the fire of inner motivation to life, I think that should be the other way around; how do we stop our systems of education from extinguishing it? We need to do nothing to get babies to want to learn absolutely everything about their environment, and be like the big ones. We don't teach babies to walk and talk, they just do. Change the environment to formalised schooling and about 70% of us become demotivated. If you look into the work of John Taylor Gatto you'll see that demotivation is actually one of the primary aims of state education. The state is the problem. But that is another huge issue. All these things are interrelated, nothing can be addressed in isolation.

And this brings us to testing. I would say it's impossible to measure success, in the same way it's impossible to measure value. We have an obsession with measurement (and here Charles Eisenstein is king, in "The Ascent of Humanity"). For my money, we have always been muddling through, and will always muddle through, no matter how fine our testing and measuring equipment. I tried today again to get my younger daughter to love German, and failed again. I realised it is because I am trying. She will find her own way. I can't test or prove this, only have faith. That means failure is possible, but certainty is anathema to life, which goes its own way no matter how much control we think we have. So I want less testing and fewer guarantees. I want the space to allow my family's relationship with broader society to blossom in whatever way seems most appropriate to us all. The current situation (in Germany at least) is close to unbearable. Getting out of it is extremely difficult, sadly.

swiss said...

Hi Toby,

>>>that's a lot of material which will take me years to get through.<<<
It seems so much, but the quintessence (without proofing detailed the sources) from the source are:
If you want to support your kids school and social success, you can try following:
-do sports before learning/school start (o.k. it is difficult to do it exactly before school, that must be organized from school), but do sports
-persuade the children (do support every bit when they do it) to roleplay (i am so thankful when our sun and daughter play in that way together)
-love to tell stories, invent stories, find ways that your children also practice it
-find ways, that your chidren do the things not for your comment, but because they get satisfaction from the action. I try to say: "look inside, do you like it, when you are doin. Conserve this feeling"; if they did something wonderful I say (sometimes): "you must appreciate your work on your own, you must congratulate yourself".


>>>Right now my focus is securing income streams, since I quit my job at the end of October to stop feeding the Consumption Beast,to feed less.<<<
Yup, the ugly work.

>>>and pursue more of what my heart wants; language-based stuff like teaching, translation and writing.<<<
If you can make a living from it, congratulation.

>>>On bringing the fire of inner motivation to life, I think that should be the other way around; how do we stop our systems of education from extinguishing it? We need to do nothing to get babies to want to learn absolutely everything about their environment, and be like the big ones. We don't teach babies to walk and talk, they just do. Change the environment to formalised schooling and about 70% of us become demotivated. If you look into the work of John Taylor Gatto you'll see that demotivation is actually one of the primary aims of state education. The state is the problem. But that is another huge issue. All these things are interrelated, nothing can be addressed in isolation.<<<
The baby example is also often used in my mind. They learn and you cannot force it. Maybe support.
Demotivation is common. But at the moment, that are more or less the companions of school (according to Ken Robinson is nowhere a functioning education system - various youtube videos). I see it not so bad, cause we moved to a more rurual area. My daughter has a wonderful and engaged teacher. So it depends a lot on the teacher too. She likes her very much and so school is (at the moment) a lot of enjoyment (2. Klasse). Thursday we had a many hour trip to a town 15km away (cause we have no car) cause of a drawing competition price. That are the wonderful resources of strength and endurance: roleplay, imagination, drawing, sports, dance, music, storytelling and story writing (Charles Eisenstein:..."My next major book will probably be about the world-creating power of story,"). Not on plan in most schools. But a necessity. More then ever, cause they make you a creative person.
I aggree, that the learning enviroment should be changed dramatically. The learners should do things more autonomously, more creative processes should be involved, less controling enviroment (but still feedback).
But how to do it for everyone, I have no plan.

swiss said...

>>>And this brings us to testing. I would say it's impossible to measure success, in the same way it's impossible to measure value. We have an obsession with measurement (and here Charles Eisenstein is king, in "The Ascent of Humanity").<<<
Yes and No. For every form of production you need measure. To get to the aim (also in a less consuming society you will still need) you must measure something.
And with learning for example a new language or mathematics, you must also know if you are on the right path. The question is, is it a controlling act, that diminishes you as an individual, or is it a real feedback, that someone can use as information where he stands.

>>>For my money, we have always been muddling through, and will always muddle through, no matter how fine our testing and measuring equipment.<<<
In the meaning, that you think the results that you (must) produced, were not as good as it should be?
The most friends of mine are far from being satisfied with their work (and me to, so at the moment I am in some sabbatical time region). It is a minority (which are in the "flow). That is ridiculous, but it is the sad truth.

>>>I tried today again to get my younger daughter to love German, and failed again. I realised it is because I am trying.<<<
How did you try it? Do you like the german language?

>>>She will find her own way. I can't test or prove this, only have faith. That means failure is possible, but certainty is anathema to life, which goes its own way no matter how much control we think we have. So I want less testing and fewer guarantees. I want the space to allow my family's relationship with broader society to blossom in whatever way seems most appropriate to us all. The current situation (in Germany at least) is close to unbearable. Getting out of it is extremely difficult, sadly.<<<
Maybe there are far less certainnesses than we think, but some fundamental things exist certain (you are born, we must breath, we (everything) will die...).
To know that you can something (right, e.g. a correct pronunciation, mathematical thinking) you need all the time feedback, that you know, that you are doing right. Some feedback is given somehow natural (for example learning to ride a bike), some other activities need a more elaborated feedback (maths...).
True your daughter will find her way. But sometimes children need an activator to start through (for example our sun befor 1 year did not even pick up a pencil; very often we (strongly) encouraged him to draw, now he is very good (for his age) in drawing...
Sometimes it seems, that "Leben ist ein Jammertal, da beist die Maus keinen Faden ab". This thought nested deep in my mind and sometimes it is seeps to the surface and spreads an ugly odour. Then some other parts of my brain act and prove that this is not the case. Cause life is wonderful (most time).

peace
swiss

Toby said...

Hi swiss,

thanks for your very considerate and informative comments.

My position is not that there should be no testing, but that we are too obsessed with it. What is the value of anything? It can't be measured. What can be measured tends to have little value, like length and weight. Measurements in this domain lead to sound items like houses, bridges and trains, but their value, that is, the experience humans derive from their use, is immeasurable. I'm not an extremist, just agree with Eisenstein that we tend to believe too strongly that 'objective' scientific 'facts' are where real value is. I believe the opposite is true, the real value lies in the unmeasurable, and is unmeasurable. Just to explain my position a bit more deeply.

And yes, my wife and I are novelists, and continually invest stories with the kids, who now both write. They both do sport. The German thing is weird, because both our daughters have a kind of phobia there, which may be related to my having been so unhappy at work for a decade, which was an all German environment. And yes, I was pushing too hard trying at that moment to force my younger daughter to like learning German (she's actually bilingual, just hates the grammar). Teaching is something I'm learning, and, though I moan here, I'm getting better.

Otherwise, I agree with everything you say. Testing is very important, but we've overdone, and Prussia is probably about as bad as it gets. Sadly, I'm in Prussia.

Where did you hear about Eisenstein's new book idea?

Life is wonderful even when it isn't. Except at those times when I disagree with that statement. ;-)

swiss said...

Hi Toby,

>>>My position ... bit more deeply.<<<

I got it. You mean for example love and happiness are not measurable, but the weight of the bread. Or the value of a human being can not be measured.
Hmmm. I must be aware not to dive to deep into the philosophical ocean, to avoid not coming up again. But. For example I (and guessing other humans too). I have no precise ranking of the persons, with all I come into contact, albeit I think there is something in my brain (a lot of emotional wiring), that defines with whom I want more relation than with others.
So in an idealistic sense every human has the same "value", but in my practical (subconcious, emotional) mind there is a value-giving machine...(to every person).

>>>she's actually bilingual, just hates the grammar<<<
It is really astonishing, that you learn implicit the language and can use it, but if you must explain it or talk about it, than the difficulties begin.
If I had more six lives, than I could imagine to study linguistics. Language per se is such a rich and wonderful "net". You can convey nearly everything with it. I read an interesting theory, that language is the grooming of the humans.

"Sadly, I'm in Prussia."
Click out your leftside control (measure???) brain and let the flow of dreamlandia come into your consciousness. Holistically.

>>>Where did you hear about Eisenstein's new book idea?<<<
On his website.

>>>Life is wonderful even when it isn't. Except at those times when I disagree with that statement.<<<
And even the disagreement is (eventually) a hoax, cause something immesearable exists as thing as it is. And isn´t that pure fact "wonderful".

take care and liebe Grüße
swiss

Toby said...

"mind there is a value-giving machine...(to every person)."

Absolutely, and therefore value is key, but always subjective. We cannot help but judge and assign value, but expecting something like economics to be able to precisely measure value with price is hopeless. Money is the attempt via 'objective' price-based measurement (the famous market) to control human value judgment processes. Money is more than this, but this is one helpful way of seeing it.

"And even the disagreement is (eventually) a hoax, cause something immesearable exists as thing as it is. And isn´t that pure fact "wonderful"."

Yep, absolutely.

And as for Dreamlandia, I spend a lot of time there. So perhaps you're right. Less time in Leftbrain where I worry too much about silly things, and more time in Rightbrain. I think that's good advice.