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?

(Translated by EG)

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.

(Translated by EG)

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.

(Translated by EG)

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