Okay, so the idea here is, maybe to try to put it simply, that my goal as an educator has become — and should be, as I see it — hell, I feel it, sense it, hell, I vibrate with it — the goal of all of education in any society’s system whatsoever — to help people understand, grasp, and really I should use some word like re-grasp, because we all knew this when we were the children that we were before we started school: that we are, each one of us, our own best teacher. Schools are not the centers of learning; they must be seen only as places where suggestions for learning are made.
Each one of us is our own Center of Learning. Spend as much time as you want in a school, it is you who decides how much you pay attention to what is being suggested at the school, to what extent you actually go along with the suggestions that are being made at the school, how much you really learn at the school, as a result of the school. You could just as easily be following your own suggestions, but we have all been cultivated to see schools as where we go to learn, and to regard what we do outside of schools, at least until we are eighteen years old or so, as something that is not quite as important or valuable as being in the school, doing what the school and the society says we should do there. If there were no schools, we would, each one of us, find ways of learning what we were really interested in learning, provided that the society in which we lived allowed us to do that, made it possible for us to do that, gave us the freedom to do that.
To illustrate, which means to make a picture of what it is that I’m talking about, if you haven’t been able to make your own yet: There was a time in my life when I trained in a martial art and came to the point of earning an instructor’s certification. That meant that I had had to do a lot of special sorts of training and teaching at the studio where I was a student, and then I went to a training center and did what they said I should do in order to become an effective instructor of that particular martial art, and all of this could only happen after I had spent some years practicing and training and testing and finally reaching a point where I had enough experience in the art to actually be able to do all of this extra stuff in order to become an instructor. So I got the certificate. That certificate would “expire” after three years. So a few years later I was living in a little community and some people there wanted me to start giving lessons in this martial art and so I said okay and somebody wondered if I were qualified to be a teacher or something like that, I don’t remember how it all happened, but I realized that my instructor’s certificate had expired and I said that to somebody and so somebody asked if I could still teach the lessons. As if all of the learning and training that I had done and all of the experience that I already had in giving lessons in the martial art were in the certificate. As if the center of the learning that I had done had been the martial arts studio where I did my training, and in the extra school that I went to for instructor certification, and not in me. That learning is in me, for chrissake! The learning that each of us does stays in us, and really, it starts in us, when we make the choice or feel the impulse to learn something, and decide to start learning it, then we really learn it and it stays in us. It doesn’t fade out, disappear, become invalid, become irrelevant like the information we used to get the highest score on a test at the school and then we have forgotten most of that information two weeks later. When we choose to learn something, have the personal interest in something that takes us to the point where we want to learn more about it, then we focus on it and learn it as works best for our own particular learning style, and that usually means that we learn it fast and forever.
Schools should be, and society’s should be, recognizing that, and schools should be formatted based on that — that people learn, actually really and usably and satisfyingly learn, only what they want to learn, and only when they want to learn it; that forced learning, required time in classrooms, is a waste of everybody’s time, and resources.