by Maria Teresa De Donato
In the two previous meetings with my friend and fellow author Horst Költze on the topic of Education and Freedom, Part One and Part Two, we addressed fundamental aspects such as self-awareness, self-awareness and the role that school should play through its programs in offering each individual help to develop their unique potential and therefore their creativity.
As pointed out in these articles, this can only be achieved through freedom. On the contrary, “In the traditional school system, currently dominated in 76 states by the PISA functionalist study [Program for International Student Assessment], children and adolescents are forced to adapt for at least ten years during the growth phase of the brain. … With forced learning, there is no existential reference to the person, to the true SELF. This hinders the development of the brain areas necessary for autogenesis. At the end of the school, the graduates don’t know WHO they are and what they really want”.
To solve this colossal problem, sector professionals have taken action in every possible way. Among these was Horst Költze, who tried to underline three fundamental aspects through his publications:
1) this frightening gap in the education system;
2) the devastating impact this education has on children and young people;
3) the need to make significant changes not only in the teaching programs but, above all, in the training methods of the teachers themselves.
Even after he retired, Horst continued his struggle undeterred. The goal is to raise awareness among the competent authorities, school staff, and parents of students on the need for a freer education capable of recognizing and maximizing the creative potential of each student. The realization of this type of education is desirable not only in Germany, where Horst lives but also in other countries where the PISA functionalist studio has been used.
Of course, Horst was not the only teacher aware of the harm done to children and pupils by such a deficient education system. Many others have recognized the shortcomings and the need for change. Unfortunately, some of his colleagues have failed to continue being part of a system they share neither assessment techniques nor teaching methods and have taken a drastic decision: dismissal.
They, therefore, renounced the profession, with the consequent loss of work and pension contributions, as a form of denunciation and condemnation of an educational system that enslaves children and clips their wings from an early age.
The article published online in the education magazine News4Teachers entitled “The School System Makes You Sick”: Why a Primary School Teacher Resigns from Civil Service – Her Reasoning in Wording, This Teacher Forgoes Her Lifetime Support as a civil servant, therefore, represents a living and personal document of the ABUSE of education, which emerged clearly in the interview with the educational writer Horst Költze on the theme “EDUCATION AND FREEDOM,” mentioned above.
In the resignation letter to the Munich State Education Authority of March 16, 2022-Schulrat 12-80313 Munich, this teacher explains the reasons for her drastic decision of her, starting with a question:
“Why do so many children lose the joy of learning after a short time in school?”
According to the content of her letter, the reasons are various:
1) Children become “objects of expectation” while their personal and family situation with all sorts of related problems is completely ignored. The high level of frustration and anger leads to the phenomenon of bullying, now widespread in all schools.
2) Violation of human rights, United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child: age, “origin, ethnicity, skin color, gender, educational level of parents, first name and poverty of one’s parents” are all discriminating factors and devoid of the “inclusion” aspect, above all concerning people with disabilities. The atmosphere in the school, especially in the state one, is that of “experience of domination and hierarchical communication, not of participation.”
3) Concept of learning: learning in school is based on the erroneous assumption that “the content of knowledge can be transferred from one person to another, whether they like it or not.” This is not true, as the brain not only stores data, it filters it. (MY NOTE: Because of this, we easily learn and remember some things, while others have difficulty understanding them and quickly forget them anyway.)
4) Compulsory education (distinct from mandatory education) and compulsory learning contradict many fundamental human rights. Therefore, to “have an integrating function in a free society, we must finally abolish compulsory schooling.”
5) The school system makes students and teachers sick alike.
This is illustrated by the high rates of symptoms seen in school-age children and adolescents, such as headaches, abdominal pain, back pain, and sleep disturbances, to name a few.
This teacher was not the only one to make an “extreme gesture.” Another case that we can cite is precisely that of Gunnar Kaiser.
In his interview with Gunnar Kaiser – “I won’t do it anymore,” published on the YouTube channel of the RESPECT platform, Kaiser explained his reasons for quitting. The way Covid was managed and hearing the authorities and, therefore, of the media, stating that we would not have gone back to normality, at least according to the usual meaning of the term, was, in his case, the straw that broke the camel’s back. On the contrary, all the restrictions and social changes adopted due to the pandemic, even concerning the limits imposed on freedom, would become the new normality. The freedoms stolen or at least limited by the pandemic would never be restored.
Gunnar Kaiser asks an interesting question: “Have we ever really experienced democracy if we give it up so quickly?”
Perhaps the time has come to break the conventional mold and embrace the world of ideas and lofty ideals, regardless of what we are used to doing or seeing around us. Perhaps we should stop wondering if something is “normal” and instead ask ourselves if it is “legitimate” and what the implications are.
Gunnar Kaiser has, therefore, also given up teaching for various reasons, many of which are contained in the resignation letter that his colleague from Munich sent to the School Authority of her area.
Being fully aware of the problem and having a conscience that recognizes that the educational system, as it is designed and functioning, is doing more harm than good to the students and the teachers themselves marks the point of no return.
Be aware of the difficulties students are facing
• in keeping up with programs they are not interested in at all;
• in being assessed through tests based on their academic performance; and
• in dealing with the shame of failure and bullying among peers.
This makes these teachers feel entirely helpless as if they are faced with a rubber wall and consequently unable to make any significant changes to the system.
Many teachers, therefore, decide to make drastic career changes. They give up secure jobs in the public sector and the resulting pension contributions and resign from their position. They do not want to feel responsible for the education system’s failure and the damage it does to students. Therefore, for a matter of coherence and conscience, they avoid being part of it.
Hence, regardless the personal choices of each teacher, in the countries where the PISA functional system is used, the school fails miserably in what should be its purpose and very raison d’etre: the promotion of expressive creativity and the development and maximum exploitation of each student’s potential.