Roland Dürre
Wednesday August 23rd, 2017

Why We Need Christophine! (II)

Why We Need Christophine! (I)

That is what I wrote on July, 12th. It was a few days after I, at the age of 67, was permitted to once again attend primary school. At Christophine. And it makes me very happy how much encouragement I received after having published my article.

This is how I make the experience that my criticism about how children world-wide are “educated” and “instructed” more than a loner’s issue. Because if we talk school, we mostly mean that a young person is “trained” or “formatted” – and the appreciation of the child is totally neglected.

How you can treat children with respect and give them space to learn and experience life under their own control and highly motivated is exactly what I was allowed to see on June, 23rd in Marbach on the river Neckar. Here is my report:

On this Friday, I was part of the class for half a day. Being a nervous new student, I was, naturally, very early. And I enjoyed how the boys and girls arrived one after the other. All of them were in a good mood and joyful – apparently they were quite happy to go to school.

As soon as the class was complete, they all sang a song together. The song was a welcome in many languages – so we shared looking forward to the day.

After the song, the first round of this Friday morning went to the children. They told the class about an experience that had been important to them. One of the children moderated the round – each day, this task is assigned to a different child.
A self-made cardboard box was handed from narrator to narrator – it had a green circle on one side and a red circle on the opposite side. As long as a child spoke, the listeners were shown the red side (Please do not talk, listen to me!).

As soon as the narrator was finished and questions were allowed, the box was turned around and everybody saw the green side (Now your questions and comments are welcome!).

It was great to see how nice and short both the narratives and the questions and answers were. How the children paid attention while listening and letting everybody say all they wanted to say. I had to think of all the brutal chaos I so often experienced during many discussions with grown-ups (meetings with very important persons) …

The second round was about planning the work ahead. The children decided what they wanted to do during the rest of the morning. I was quite surprised to see the high degree of motivation shown by the children and how realistic they were about evaluating their own competence, which is what they then based their activities on.

At the Christophine, nobody is forced to sit down. That is why all the children wear very soft-soled shoes, because they do not want to disturb others when they work. Because that is an important right. You can also demand it (Please do not disturb me while I am working!). You can work in groups or individually, depending on what makes sense to you. And if the weather is fine, you can also work outdoors.

It stroke me that, at the Christophine, there is an order that serves everybody. It is not seen as a constraint.

Instead, it is seen as something that allows a successful social setting. Nor is it self-serving. Instead, it creates a workspace that allows a reasonable treatment both for yourself and together with others.

The language at this school is full of mutual respect – and I would call it “altero-centric”. The children listen, let others finish and relate to what the other child wants. This is very rare among adults. Consequently, I saw a surprising degree of true and violence-free communication at this school. I saw how people relate to each other as I do not often see it with grown-ups.

Naturally, there was also a conflict situation. However, this situation was not waltzed over by teachers, nor was anybody punished. The quarrelling parties (one was a boy, the other a girl) were advised to deal with the conflict situation in a reasonable way. And when it became difficult, the two young people were invited to retreat and solve their problem in private. And when, later on, they went to the village fountain and both put their hands under water, the conflict was over.

And whenever the grown-up world came to mind, I had tears in my eyes. Yes, Rupert Lay was quite right when he said that children are wise creatures. And that we, the parents and teachers, sacrifice their wisdom on the altar of education.

And I also believe that we have actually made progress, for instance through the Montessori School ( Montessori Schule) concept. But that is not enough for me. What we need is many free and self-organized schools with a modern concept. Without indoctrination and central rules.

Now I enjoy the Greek sun. And I wonder what I can do for Christophine.

In my current life phase, I try to find my own peace and multiply my love. Because this is the basis of everything else. I spend a lot of time helping mentees (while they study and when they start their professional careers) and young entrepreneurs (with their start-ups). This is because I want them to become more successful and happier in their lives.

I support young mothers on their way back into work by helping them to write “alternative cv-s” (telling them to describe what they can and wish to do, instead of what they did in the past).

With friends of mine, I founded barcamps and PM Camps and similar events in order to make the concepts of “new ideas” and “breaking patterns” more popular. All the time, I am busy building networks for people in general in order to make them stronger and greater together. And I try to live a mobility that makes sense and I express my desire for peace.

And some of it actually seems to work out quite well. That is something that really makes me a little happier.

But would it not be better to invest my time and strength by helping the very small and weak people? Our children and grandchildren. As I see it, they are worse off each year, because they are robbed of their freedom and indoctrinated more and more due to so-called practical constraints. Just because you want them to become nice citizens and
consumers.

Basically, our society wants the very best, but then they could not do a worse job if they tried. Unfortunately, our children are the best example for this. Consequently, should it not be my main goal to do something for our children? To make them feel big, instead of small? And to give them a chance towards getting the best start for a successful life as free and autonomous persons?

Well, those are the typical ideas you get during a wonderful time-out.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.
The “Marbacher Pädagogik“ by Lorenz Obleser is something I consider a match for the modern concept we need. In my article “Christophine III”, I will try to formulate something with him and other protagonists of Christophine in the IF blog.

Roland Dürre
Sunday August 13th, 2017

My First “Coming Out“

Today as a: “Sunday Column “!

It is really about time to break with patterns and taboos. Consequently, I will now start doing so. Also in the IF Blog. I will start small and very softly… But as time goes by, things may develop.

Here is who I am: a male mammal. Of the species “human”. Humans are descendants of humanoids who, earlier, developed from some apes. They call them “primates” – as opposed to the wise and beautiful elephants, cows and pigs, which is incomprehensible for me.

Male mammals have genitals. The same is true for me. A male sexual organ has many disadvantages. One of the probably more harmless ones is the question: ”how to cover it? “.

Selfie under difficult conditions – but definitely without knickers!

Consequently, “homo sapiens’” created underpants. And they founded the underwear industry that really makes good money with underpants. Clothes became a moral issue (“this is how you have to dress” or “this is absolutely impossible”). Among other things, there is a moral code that says that you (especially men) cannot run around without underpants.

Except – underpants are uncomfortable. To be sure, trousers are even more uncomfortable. And if you do not wear underpants, they might actually hurt. Just think of Lederhosen. Incidentally, they can even hurt if you wear underpants.

For the male humans, a special obligation to wear underpants has been established. Women wore skirts. So it was easier for them to go “without knickers”. What is impossible for men is considered “erotically bold” for women.

So what I did is wear underpants for more than 50 years and change them on a daily basis if possible.

Roughly ten years ago, I discovered a full-body dress for men in India. Perhaps they call it Caftan. I bought two of them (one green and one blue) and used them instead of a bathrobe, especially in summer. And I quickly realized that you need not wear underpants under such a Caftan. All of a sudden, I discovered a totally new feeling of well-being. Now everything is so free – and centralized.

Hans Söllner at the Erding Sinnflut-Festival, 2004, still wearing trousers.
(dkeppner@freenet.de)
GNU Free Documentation License, from Wikipedia.

Since I am a coward, I rarely wear my Caftan in public without underpants underneath. One of the reasons is that – naively – I used to believe I am the only man who likes running around without underpants.

Well, this is how we men are. Because we always think we are the centre of the universe and nobody else ever had the same idea as we. But that is not how it is.

Then came the Bayern-Sound Festival, which I attended. And Söllner Hans played there. He wore a skirt. And he assured us that he was “absolutely underpants-free”.

Hans had more good arguments for wearing a skirt and no underpants. He also said he wanted to make it easy for those “who could screw him”. And that the number of them was rapidly increasing.

I feel similarly. For me, too, the number of those who “can screw me” increases all the time. Especially if they forget that they, too, have been born as mammals and not as system agents. And if they really push themselves to the front and think they are true heroes. Then they can really …

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Saturday October 3rd, 2015

Angry!

Rotes QuadratOnce in a while, I get really angry. The last time this happened was during a forum. It was about “un-schooling”. The system of collective (federal) schools was judged to be the only appropriate variant of teaching and “education” for young persons and “un-schooling” was said to be socially inacceptable.

There are other statements I also very much object to. For instance, I see red when I hear

THAT

  • We have to produce weapons.
  • Lobbyism is a necessary part of our economy.
  • A speed-limit would ruin said economy.
  • Concerns have to make maximum profit.
  • There is no alternative to constant growth.
  • Dismissal protection cannot be abolished.
  • It is total nonsense to think about a “UBI” (unconditional basic income, instead of all the social subsidies).
  • BND and the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution are absolutely important and necessary.
  • Total transparency and openness in society and software is not possible.
  • There is no alternative to patents and copyright.
  • The climate catastrophe is just an invention of green nerds.
  • You have to tolerate both circumcision
  • And the suppression of women

But back to the school discussion: if some people shun classic systems such as the school system, then this is, for me, the last and as I fear eventually unsuccessful attempt of individual persons to flee from a world I actually do not like at all..

I MEAN A WORLD

  • Where people, both individually and collectively, act in a way I disapprove of;
  • Where stupidity always wins and where I get the impression that it is not possible to be so stupid unless you act as a group (see also Dueck – Schwarmdumm),
  • Where few of us actually get far too much warmth and calories, yet others get nothing – which means everything is taken from all of us;
  • Where they tell us we are omnipotent, yet de facto there is the permanent attempt at total manipulation;
  • Where they try to take away our freedom and to convert us into becoming servants fitting the system;
  • Where nobody likes you if you critically ask “why”;
  • Where the question “what profit can I make from this?” is the motivating factor for all our actions;
  • That tries to make unequal things equal;
  • That tries to discourage us from being creative;
  • That dissuades us from believing in utopia;
  • Where all you hear all the time is “it cannot be done, anyway”, “this is how we always did it” and “yes, but…”;
  • Where, from earliest childhood on, we are accused of being “guilty”, regardless of the fact that our brains are not all built to know how to deal with such accusations;
  • Where everybody talks about eye-level, sharing, participation, respect, tolerance, civil courage, … but
  • Where every attempt at autonomy is first and foremost punished;
  • Where invitations to “give more than you take” and to “remain true to yourself” sound like mockery;
  • Where, as a matter of course, you make others feel smaller, rather than bigger;
  • Where rules from the natural sciences are welcome as long as they are useful, but abhorred when they clash with what we want.

In evolutional theory, they say that matters will only change when the old generation dies out. Consequently, I have all the respect in the world for parents who take responsibility and decide to teach their own children. These days, such a pledge in favour of the family is scarce. And to do so, you have to focus on the important things in life and to forego many luxuries.

Isn’t it a lot easier and more comfortable to put children (incidentally, the same is true for the elderly) into storage? To be sure, sooner or later the parents will bow under the pressure of the school. They will become aliens in the eyes of their own children and eventually even turn into the agents of the system “school” – against the interests and wishes of their own children.

This means that the variants of “un-schooling”, “no-schooling” and “home-schooling” are not arrogant or uppity, but revolutionary. In fact, we need this kind of courage to replace thoughtless following in many other areas of our lives (nutrition, leisure time, life style, …). Just like we need the willingness to make “sacrifices” for our future and to work towards contentedness and happiness, rather than buying it.

For a good “un-schooling”, you have to give your children much. Especially the most precious commodity you have: time. It is scarce. It also takes a lot of time to change your own life. Consequently, time is something we should not waste. And we have to distance ourselves from what they want to sell us as desirable.

Abstinence takes an effort. Yet abstinence is probably the first counter-measure against being controlled by others. You can easily be heading towards disaster if your life is controlled by others. Perhaps it is even harder for lonely persons to find their own lives.

It is well worth trying to flee the formatting of a perverse society. We humans have spent enough time letting others turn us into trained monkeys. It was especially perverse during the long 19th century. Enlightenment can only have been a first step. It brought us peace and freedom, but also war and destruction.

Well, for me this means more than ever that we need a second enlightenment. And we have to continue dreaming our utopian dreams of a soft and violence-free world without “punishment” and “revenge”.

Thank you very much!

RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.

Incidentally, in Germany, the “un-schooling” discussion is beside the point. As opposed to other European countries, it is explicitly forbidden by law. Regardless of the EU and all the bureaucracy that comes with it…

Werner Lorbeer
Saturday August 22nd, 2015

Myths About Teaching

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

School as a variable social system.

Current argument in BW! It is – politically tried and tested – about the school system. And it is always also about the teacher/student ratio and inclusion.

What I find rather shocking is that the parties who are arguing do not seem to know anything about the empirical research literature.

It remains to be said that one-on-one teaching or teaching only a few is an art that, as you can read in the research literature of the 18th and 19th centuries, was a total failure.

It is also known that the well-researched autonomous learner will create a strong differentiation in his structural development status. The PISA studies show that the group size is basically determined by the discipline of the learning group but that it does not limit the success.

Jauch’s shows are not a mirror of the current social concepts in our schools. They are characterized by a huge amount of variable social forms, even if this seems to be hardly understood by the educational editing boards. On the picture, you see a routine situation at the Augsburg Holbein Gymnasium: the final stage of a project phase.

However, this does not mean that matters could continue endlessly in this way. Instead, this class, too, is entitled to be taught physics systematically; because knowledge has a structure that has been fought for over many decades. The more gifted a child is, the more successful he or she will be when it comes to transferring said knowledge structure to other problems.

Incidentally, we also know from empirical research that specific teacher talents will also substantially contribute to the learning success. “Success” always has to be understood multi-dimensionally in pedagogical research – social effects, academic effects, impacts on the development of a child’s personality, etc.

Not every teacher has an equal chance when it comes to personality structure. Neither will his effect on students be the same for all pupils. There is numerous “trait-treatment interaction“ research to prove this. In this light, the argument they are having in Baden-Württemberg is superfluous, because the quarrelling parties have no interest whatsoever in promoting the pedagogical practice, let alone pedagogical research.

Here is one last note on the teacher:
If you feel stressed out by children and if you are close to “burnout”, then you should ask yourself if your personality is suitable for “educating”. Children have the daily right to a “friendly, relaxed teacher” (Hefendehl-Hebecker), and they offer the teacher a new start every day.

So tell me where, in the world of grown-ups, you ever get this kind of opportunity!

wl
(Translated by EG)

Tomorrow’s (July, 23rd, 2015, at 6 p.m.)IF-Forum (guests are still welcome, here is the invitation) in our Unterhaching office building will be about “Learning in Innovation”. Taking the metaphor of “Unschooling”, Bruno Gantenbein will show how children can and want to learn. He will also show parallels between this concept and the experiences made by famous project managers and grown-up leaders.

At InterFace, the year 2015 is dedicated to Ada Lovelace. Consequently, Florian Specht asked me to give an introduction and answer the question:

What is the connection between Ada Lovelace and “unschooling“?

🙂 Here is an introduction I will not present tomorrow. Still, I can publish it here, can’t I? The proper introduction is for you all to hear live tomorrow.

Ada im Alter von 4 Jahren

Ada at the age of four

What is the connection between Ada Lovelace and other persons, such as for instance Galileo Galilei (the InterFace face of 2014), Blaise Pascal, Leonardo da Vinci or “the Ancient Greeks”, such as Archimedes or Socrates – as well as other outstanding personalities in science and “unschooling”?

When preparing for this presentation, the first thing I did was read the Wikipedia article on compulsory school education. We learn that

  • There was a time when it was not compulsory.
  • It was introduced rather late and put to practice even a lot later.
  • There were places where only part of the population was affected, and often only the male part
  • But the learning process was always associated with life and persons, rather than schools.

Then I took a closer look at the life of Ada Lovelace. In Wikipedia, the first sentence you find on “Ada Lovelace“ (article) is:

Augusta Ada Byron King, Countess of Lovelace, commonly known as Ada Lovelace (nee Augusta Ada Byron;[1] * 10th of December 1815 in London; † 27th of November 1852 also in London), was a British Mathematician.”

The article is well worth reading. There is no doubt that she was a genius.
However, all the other persons I named never really seem to have attended any school:

Blaise Pascal (* 19th of June 1623 in Clermont-Ferrand; † 19th of August 1662 in Paris) was a  French Mathematician, Physicist and Literary person, as well as a christian Philosopher.

Galileo Galilei (* 15th of February 1564 in Pisa; † 29th of December 1641jul./8th of January 1642greg. in Arcetri near Florence) was an Italian philosopher, mathematician and astronomer whose discoveries in several fields of natural science  were breakthroughs.

Well, this is hardly a surprise, because when the last two lived, such a thing as schools in the modern sense did not exist.

When I was a child, I used to adore the “ancient Greeks”. Imagine what enormous and revolutionary discoveries they made with the most primitive means and a little calculation. Some of them were due only to observation, thinking and simple experiments. And, surprise, surprise: in those days, they did not have a formal school system as we have it today.

Consequently, the suspicion inside me grows that quite a few innovations would not have been possible during the history of mankind if humans in those days had been indoctrinated from early on as it is common in a normal school today.

But the light inside me was really turned on when I saw the film “Alphabet”.ALPHABET, the film was produced by Erwin Wagenhofer in 2013. After WE FEED THE WORLD and LETS MAKE MONEY, ALPHABET was the last and final part of his famous trilogy. ALPHABET is a film that describes in a very soft way what situation the children world-wide are in during their education.

I particularly liked one citation in the film. It seems to be the result of scientific research:

98 % of all babies are born as a genius. After their education, the ratio is 2 %.

The only question that remains is how Mrs. Lovelace could preserve her genius. After all, 200 years ago we already had the first stages of compulsory school education. Maybe it was because in those days there were some regions where only boys went to school? Boys who always had to be brave and never were allowed to cry?

RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.
Now I need to do a little more work on my introduction (version 2.0). Incidentally, I took the picture from Wikipedia.

Roland Dürre
Sunday April 12th, 2015

School, Education, Future.

On the Facebook page “Alphabet – der Film“, Bernice Zieba advertised the book “Children Do Not Need a School”. She also pointed out that and where you can order the book. The book is about “Homeschooling und Unschooling”. I have not (yet) read the book – consequently, I cannot evaluate it. However, I know the film Alphabet quite well and I strongly recommend watching it.

On Facebook, this entry caused an intense discussion among those in favour and those against compulsory school attendance. The discussion excited me quite a lot, especially because my own experiences with school, both as a student and father of several pupils were anything but positive. Consequently, movements such as “Sudbury – Free at Last” (Sudbury – endlich frei) sound rather attractive to me, at least as a beautiful utopia.

Hence, I could not suppress my desire to write my own comment on the situation of education and school. My comment contained the following ideas:

KinderSchuleSchools all over the world teach, instead of instructing. They do not motivate students to ask questions and think. Instead, they only teach knowledge without knowing. Consequently, the usual rule is that we get knowledge bulimia.

Attempts of the pupils to be autonomous are considered troublesome, the same is true for critical positions. Enlightenment is not encouraged in schools and has become an anti-word. Because it seems to be the major and exclusive pedagogic goal of the educational systems to shape persons in such a way that they will function as frictionless as possible in the final system. It seems that the teachers actually are told to take all creativity from the students and to make them adaptable. This is how we produce system-conform consumers who fit perfectly and without protest into the non-humane performance society.

There is one thing the modern schools and educational systems of this world are extremely good at: indoctrination! Only the degree of indoctrination still varies between schools and cultures.

But indoctrination is the enemy of life in freedom and dignity. This is not how a reasonable change can be accomplished. In fact, we will not even find the “social consensus” which is a requirement for a constructive, humane and enlightened development of our society if we continue in this way.

Here is an example: an honest discourse might be helpful – yet this cannot be realized if we never learned to use the necessary tools!

It seems clear that making sure the next generation has a good education is a central task of all societies (also of ours). This should probably have the highest priority. Yet in actual fact we witness a total failure of our educational system. The deficits found in our schools increase all the time. For many social groups, the situation gets worse and worse.

Regardless of all this, I personally tend to scepticism towards concepts like “Homeschooling und Unschooling”. And I would only find them reasonable in very special cases as a last resort or “ultima ratio”.

Well, so far my comment. But let me say one more thing: I am glad that there are still teachers out there who fight against this – probably world-wide – development by refusing to bend their knees to the pressure of systemic forces. Some of them are known to me personally – and I appreciate them. But unfortunately, I get the impression that they are more and more lone fighters, getting fewer and fewer.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.
Incidentally, I do not really understand why we always have to use those hideous US phrases, such as “Homeschooling or Unschooling”?

Jörg Rothermel
Monday February 2nd, 2015

(Deutsch) Ist da was faul – in Australien?

Sorry, this entry is only available in German.

Roland Dürre
Wednesday November 19th, 2014

Dr. Schreber and My Mother’s Corset

Schreber_(1883)_b_372Dr. Moritz Schreber??
(* October, 15th, 1808 in Leipzig;
† November, 10th, 1861 ibidem)

The famous and infamous German educator?

The parent counsellor?

The author of the notorious educations guidebook “Kallipädie” (1858)?

The designer of practical (torture) instruments for improving the posture of the youngest in your family?

Who knows the person who gave the “Schreber Gardens” their name?


After all, after Schreber died in 1864, the Leipzig school director Ernst Innozenz Hauschild established a club and honoured him by naming the club after him.

I first heard about Dr. Schreber in the cabaret. Jörg Hube, whom I very much adore and love, squeezedt himself into constructions made after the drawings by Dr. Schreber in his cabaret “Herzkasperl’s Biograffl”,

And he demonstrated us in a rather cynical way how cruel you can be when educating children – which, at the time, was probably normal. And that parents actually forced children into instruments of torture in order to achieve a virtuous posture.

Here is a Wikipedia citation on Dr. Schreber:

„Geradhalter“ für korrekte Sitzhaltung

”Upright-Posture-Machine” for correct sitting


In the programmatic preface of the educational guidelines “Kallipadie (1858)”, he wrote:

Even if nature dealt you extremely poor cards, you can make up for it to a surprising extent by well-calculated education; the most obvious and most outstanding examples are the ever better results by educational institutions after treating the deaf-mute, the blind, the imbecile, the cretins, morally delinquent children, etc. However, even the most fortunate natural endowment will degenerate if there is no the educational development.

In those days, the term health also included the idea of a “healthy removal of the sexual drive”, which was why Schreiber, among other things, also experimented with mechanical devices to prevent masturbation. Moreover, he recommended using an axe and saw-movements, in hard cases cold sit-baths in the evening, cold-water clysters and rubbing cold water over your private parts.

In order to form healthy bodies, Schreiber also constructed numerous gadgets: orthopaedic chin ribbons as a prophylactic measure against wrong chewing habits, shoulder strips which kept the children on their backs in bed and “upright-posture-machines” for sitting upright.

His own children, too, were made victims of his terrible educational methods.

Here is another Wikipedia citation.

Orthopädisches Kinnband zur Vermeidung eines Fehlbisses

Orthopaedic chin ribbon against wrong chewing habits.

.

Schreber’s wife Pauline (1815–1907) was the daughter of the medical practitioner Wilhelm Andreas Haase and her uncle was Karl Friedrich Christian Wenck. They had three daughters and two sons.

The oldest son Daniel Gustav (1839–1877) committed suicide. The second son, Daniel Paul Schreber, was a judge in Saxony and served for a short time as Senate President at the Dresden County Court. His autobiographical descriptions of a serious psychological illness were interpreted as specialties of a neurologically sick person (1903) based on psycho-analysis by Sigmund Freud.

Reading about this reminded me of my mother’s corset. We are talking hardly more than 50 years ago. It was also a terrible device. It was supposed to emphasize the female figure and also was a kind of “Body” made of elastic material with flexible, fishbone-like metal rods sewn into it. It was open in the back and then needed to be closed with a series of small hooks.

And whenever, on a Sunday, you went places or visited family, the corset was worn underneath your skirt suit. And getting dressed was a truly monstrous process. After all, naturally, as the years went by, my mother did not get any slimmer, did she? Which made the corset ever more tight and brutal.

Predictably, the mood became bad and we children were subjected to it. And the parents were surprised if mother started feeling sick or suffered from back pains. Well, what nice times we lived in.

This is how Dr. Schreber’s curse survived the world of children to end up in the lives of women.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.
I took the image and both drawings from the very interesting Wikipedia article on Dr. Moritz Schreiber I cited.