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Re: [steiner] The paths I have travelled.

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  • Jarvi
    Dear Sena and Dr. Starman, Thank you for sharing the ideas and books which have been important to you, Sena. What a great route to take from Catholicism to
    Message 1 of 1 , May 7, 2000
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      Dear Sena and Dr. Starman,

      Thank you for sharing the ideas and books which have been important to
      you, Sena. What a great route to take from Catholicism to scientific
      agnosticism to Watts and then to various forms of easternized and
      westernized ancient wisdom teachings. I expect this has given you access
      to a centered spirituality, which is capable of devotion and discipline,
      but tries to find a balance between feeling and thinking. I feel from
      your comments that you have achieved an ability to trust your own
      discrimination and intuition in spiritual matters. I'm interested in
      reading the Sylvia Franke book you mentioned and will look for it.

      I'm sorry it's taken me so long to respond. I wanted to have time to
      relax and not have to dash something off, and that's been difficult to
      find lately! Our local education association is involved in trying to
      get better wages for teachers, and that has meant many extra meetings (I
      happen to have chosen to settle in the town with the lowest pay scale in
      Arizona, which is, in turn, 49th in the nation for support of public
      education). It's also the end of the school year, with my three girls in
      various spring programs, a son who is graduating from high school, and
      my youngest daughter graduating from 8th grade.

      It's interesting to find myself in this place, teaching in the public
      school system. I'm painfully aware of how thoroughly the education of
      children has been co-opted by the agenda of the corpocracy. I see
      children horribly mistreated by very well-meaning and committed soldiers
      for the great cause of productivity, efficiency, and ever-higher levels
      of consumption. I must acknowledge that, as a teacher, I am a
      participant in this cause, and I fight a constant inner battle between
      my desire to respond to a child in a whole way, and the pressure to
      react to a child merely in terms of applying the pressure/reward
      structure necessary to make him conform to the academic program. I watch
      myself become tired, lose consciousness, and become inordinantly
      occupied with "the program" more often than I care to admit. After all,
      there is a big part of me still as snake-fascinated with fifth epoch
      achievements as anyone else. My meditation in my work is to try to
      exceed the limitations of the public school model in my dealings with
      children - to use my capacities for empathy and insight into the child
      as much as possible - while still acknowledging and respecting the fact
      that I am part of a solidly fifth epoch organism which does not
      consciously acknowledge spiritual reality, but has purpose and value in
      its own terms, and cannot be other than it is. To know the challenge is
      not to always meet it!

      I do believe, however, that I am witnessing the death of the public
      school system as it has been conceived over the past 150 years. What
      will rise up to take its place is a mystery to me, but I'm very
      concerned that one agenda not merely be replaced with another. I'm
      trying to participate in encouraging efforts toward a voucher system,
      because a system in which money follows individuals does not have a
      controllable agenda. If public education could enter the cultural realm
      in terms of people expecting to be able to make personal decisions about
      educational philosophy and methodology (and I think movement is
      occurring in this direction), there's a chance that economic activity
      could come to serve us rather than define us, and people might begin to
      find other sources of inspiration for cultural life. The trouble is that
      the corpocracy is going to fight any system which makes agenda control
      impossible. The public schools are too important a training ground for
      continued devotion to an economic definition of life. That is why
      charter schools have been created - to give an outlet for personal
      initiative while still maintaining centralized control of educational
      goals and purposes.

      I do not believe that it's possible to make a complete leap to private
      funding for schools. That would create too much chaos and a lot of
      empire building. There are just too many horrendously wealthy and
      pompous Andrew Carnegies walking the earth, ready and willing to remake
      the world in their own image. In a situation where public tax money is
      still distributed equitably for the education of youth, and individuals
      are freely joining together to spend this money as they see fit,
      education could be brought down to a small-scale activity once again and
      cultural inspiration could begin to work through it to shape it into
      forms which reflect people's intuitions about the directions in which
      society must progress. The question is, how do you convince government
      to collect and distribute money, but stay out of the business of
      directing how it's to be spent? As often seems to happen when a system
      is breaking down, the people with a vested interested in its
      continuation become even more rabid about micromanaging it. We teachers
      are laboring under ever-more idiotic bureaucratic demands, and endless
      screeching about acountability.I predict this will continue to get
      worse. As a special education teacher, I'm here to tell you that the
      avalanche of paperwork is absurd. We often will create a 1 to 1 1/2
      inch-wide file when we place a child.

      I think that the only thing which can change the present circumstances,
      (other than complete breakdown and chaos, which is the most common way
      societies usually acknowledge the need for change), is a constitutional
      challenge. My perspective on this is that government control of the
      goals and purposes of education is a violation of the first amendment.
      In essence, I feel a case could be built upon the fact that government
      has been proscribed from interference in religious freedom, and
      restricted from establishing a national religion. This means that it
      must maintain strict disinterest in the religious priorities or actions
      of citizens. In terms of public education, it follows that public money,
      distributed by government to support schools, should not be used to
      encourage or discourage a particular type of religious instruction or
      activity. There can be no church and state issue in publically-funded
      education, as long as our government responds in a completely impartial
      and disinterested manner to the educational priorities of its citizens.
      If each individual has access to a publically subsidized education which
      meets his needs, then both educational opportunity and religious freedom
      are upheld.

      One can go even further and say that since federal and state governments
      are presently maintaining their own interests over those of citizens,
      while claiming to protect their freedoms, that they are establishing a
      religion of their own. The broadest definition of religion is "any
      cause, principle, or belief held to with faith or ardor"
      (Mirriam-Webster). Our culture's economic orientation, reflected in the
      agenda of the public schools, is, in the truest sense of the word, a
      religion. There is no such thing as religious neutrality in public
      schools because no human activity can be devoid of a basis in belief. To
      assert that standardized public schools practice religious neutrality is
      to adopt a limited definition of religion and a simplistic view of human
      nature.

      I took most of the above two paragraphs from a paper I've written on
      this subject. I'm not sure what, if anything, I can do with it, but it
      was fun to write and helped me tremendously to clarify my own thinking.
      Do you think this could be a constitutionally defensible position?

      I really got off onto an education track today. I hope you don't find
      such a discussion boring. Thank you again for your messages.

      Lorraine
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