Towards an Alternative Educational Environment FINAL EDIT COMPLETE

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Peter Cock


Our school system demands that we fit learning in before we can begin to live. To function adequately as a person within society we must be schooled in how we should live and what kind of person we should be. Thus we need separate institutions called schools that are clearly defined and structured to fulfill this task. It is from these basic assumptions that I first want to look at these institutions called schools, and what they are producing.




A Description of a Normal School We enter a long corridor, lined with lockers that are the students' only private area in the school. On each side of the corridor are classrooms, distinguishable from each other only by summer above the door. The core of the school is the classroom, the dominant feature of which is rows and rows of steel-framed desks facing a large blackboard. The room is cheap, stark and drab, all sounds being loudly echoed. There are windows on two sides, preventing  classes' privacy and inhibiting all but the most adventurous of teachers from experiments which may alienate other staff members. In addition there is the school office, the headmaster's office, the tuckshop and the staff common room. This last looks like a disorderly classroom, papers band desks all over the place, and the noise of school gossip. Outside we find 'play grounds' the hardness of concrete and asphalt, stark benches, few trees and little vegetation of any sort. Here also there is no privacy. Everywhere is public, the mass dominates.  Everywhere there is constant noise, except in classrooms where often an anxiously enforced silence reigns. Many schools, particularly in the inner suburbs, have even fewer buildings of lesser quality, poorly designed, and with even less space. They do however have more students.


In short, physically it is a very harsh environment. For people it is even worse. What stands out is the power of the teacher and the powerlessness of his students, usually numbering about forty to a class. Hierarchial authority is clearly defined. The teacher appears more caught up in the problem of social control, discipline and the evaluation of learning than in the process of learning itself. Subjects are standardised, clearly separated into disciplines, and divided into forty minute slots, at the end of which students and teachers pass into another room, another subject. There is little continuity no wonder that many students care little about their school or university since most of the process is externally imposed. The same mode of instruction is used irrespective of the subject's content usually with the teacher up front telling the students. The attempt is to teach the student how to survive tomorrow by drawing on yesterday's experiences. As with work, the learning process itself is founded on the assumption of the necessity for external controls, sanctions and standards (such as grades).


Within the universities, the demands of the social order have meant the suppression of the human studies and the enhancement of the hard sciences. Consequently the university bodies are dominated by people in these fields. Not only is there over-specialisation within intellectual activity but also the demand for only intellectual work to the exclusion of significant physical or practical activity. In short, the intellectual is encouraged to cultivate an over-developed brain in a feelingless, stunted frame.


As in the wider society, work and play are clearly separated. Learning is working. Play is recess and lunchtime, under careful supervision. For many students, school is a prison, for others a factory. The intelligent student often 'drops out', attempts to 'close it down', or choose the middle ground of manipulating the system.


As the student moves from primary school through university the schooling system becomes more and more impersonal. There is less continuity and larger numbers of pupils. The school itself is part of a large, highly centralised, impersonal bureaucracy. At this level the powerlessness of the teacher and parent is readily apparent. Within the present educational system teachers cannot afford to recognise with clarity the effect of the system on themselves and their pupils. Such a recognition would require too great a change. Parents generally know and care little about education. They are happy to have their kids out of the house so that mother can go out to work to buy a second car. The school is o.k. if Johnny gets a good report or later has a good chance of getting a well paying job. If parents should care about education, they are often seen by teachers as external intruders, as troublemakers who should mind their own business. 

During one's student life it is no wonder that the few oases of teacher and peer humanity stand out in this desert of inhumane learning. The environment is clearly stacked against the individual student ever developing his potential in spite of the rhetoric of the Education Department and the propensity of the student himself. Schools, Illich writes, 'school students to confuse process with substance teaching with learning, grade advancement with education, a diploma with competence, and fluency with the ability to say something new.'* It is no wonder, in the environment of the school with its hidden and stated curriculum, that the person has little power, little knowledge of himself, little ability to relate meaningfully and lovingly with his neighbours, little knowledge and care for the natural and man made environment. In short, schools disable the person and attempt to squash his humanity.


An Alternative Value System 

In contrast to our predominant value system which puts the person last, the alternative educational value system places the person first. This value system consists of: 

  • a commitment to the person as an end in him/her-self.
  • a cotrimitment to mankind as a whole—a world consciousness 
  • a concern with the totality of the individual his emotions, his intellect, his body, mind and spirit.
  •  a concern with the development of man's creative abilities and qualities of love, sensitivity, reflection and insight, in short, with man's self-development and self-discovery a quality of the person.
  • a concern with meaningfully, developmentally and cooperatively working with and relating to others a focus on the quality of relationships,
  • a concern to work with and to become in touch with nature.

In short, this value system is concerned with human liberation, affirmation and actualisation. The nature of this concern leads to a focus on the human and natural world rather than the materialistic world of the corporate state, and its values of treating people as means to other ends such as victory, profit and/or power.


Personal Power 

The alternative educational aspiration sees the person as the locus of power, seeking to facilitate the development of his :

  • power to stand against the dehumanising pressures of the corporate state,
  • power over the man made world, consumer power, power over one's possessions (economic power),
  • power over the information and knowledge necessary for us to live fully,
  • physical power, power over our own bodies, physical health, strength and discipline,
  • personal power that is, self knowledge, power of choice, power to feel and experience, to think and to know, to be as well as to become (this is the crux of it all),
  • interpersonal power—the ability to be with another, to be tuned into another, being able to be honest and to relate to the other at levels and to degrees of our own choosing,
  • transpersonal power—to be able to transcend oneself, to get in touch with the universe, the wholeness of mankind and of the earth. In short, we need power of the individual to conduct his own education, find his own inspiration, shape his own environment, and share his adventures with whoever is interested.

This aspiration is simply to develop ourselves so that we become increasingly independent of our in stitutional structures. If we can eliminate or greatly reduce our dependence on the existing in stitutional forms and their professional workers, we can then begin to create our own joy and to relate to ourselves and to each other as persons, as ends in themselves. 

In short, power to the person is the core of the alternative educational aspiration. However, this require s radical questioning guided by our insights in to the dynamics of man's nature, and by our concern for man's growth and full unfolding. This means the questioning of every idea and institution from the standpoint of whether it helps or hinders our capacity for greater aliveness and joy. In short, we need to evaluate every social form from the stance of whether it is facilitative or retarding of each individual's full humane development.


The Educational Task 

As an alternative to the present educational system, my goal is a return of responsibility to each person for his own learning. I want to shift the responsibility for learning from schools, curricula and professional workers back to the individual learner. My aim is to facilitate each person developing his own power to educate himself, to conduct his own learning so that he can live more fully. Each person has that potential power. However the key to personal power is knowledge. Knowledge is the person's understanding of the context into which he places the information which surrounds him. It is his insight into the meaning this context has for him. It is the wisdom which re la te s him to his community. Knowledge thus understood as an existential life-experience, is learning, and this learning is the goal of education. It is the result of autonomous personal growth, and identical with the personal and intimate experiences of living.* Such knowledge needs to be available at the sole bidding of the learner. Only he can evaluate its value for him. The power to live is dependent on the needed knowledge being shared. What we need to facilitate is communication without defining what can and cannot be communicated. This is the individual's decision.


Knowledge is the key, but the material, human and natural environment is the crucial facilitator of our desire and ability to learn and live. While the individual is enhancing his own knowledge of himself and what he needs to learn, he must also be able to count on the environment to facilitate his chosen learning . Where I differ from the behaviourist is that instead of generating a standardised environment predetermined to create an individual he wants, I am concerned to create an environment where individual choice is built in, where I can be in dialogue with others to work out a mutually satisfying way of fulfilling our often  differing needs.


A good educational environment is one that:

  • provides all who want to learn with access to available resources at any time of their lives,
  • empowers all who want to share what they know to find those who want to learn from them (the development of free learning exchanges represents, in part, the provision ofthis environment),
  • enables all who want to present an issue to the public with the opportunity to make their challenge known
  • enables each to pursue self-knowledge, and overcome his fear of knowing, continuing to reach out into unknown worlds. 


However, to realise these aspirations we need to deschool, to scale down our society into a humanely manageable form. Our tools, our knowledge, have to be personalised so that they are within reach of the person. Only when this has occurred will it be possible to talk meaningfully about the realisation of a century of educational aspirations. Alternative educational ideals cannot be achieved without a revolution in concrete social reality.




A Conception of a Free School 

I'd like to now briefly describe a free school. On first sight I am struck by a sense of both intimacy and privacy. There are trees, bushy areas, clumps of scrub with little nooks and crannies, few clean cut lawns, little concrete or gardener-maintained terrain, an unkempt feeling, a children's playhouse atmossphere. The buildings are of natural materials wood and stone, and frequently the children have been involved in their design and construction. Their designs are diverse, with a minimum of standardisation of shape, size or colour. The boundaries between inside and outside the buildings are diffused. Each room is very colourful with children's creations everywhere. It is their room, an open environment, but with personal and group areas. It all seems one whole—a Gestalt. The school's inhabitants are there because they want to be it is a chosen place. 


The teacher's role is to act as a stimulator of others' options, a facilitator of decision-makers, and a resource person to help carry out each individual's choices. His effort is to help the student find out what he can do, what he wants to do, and then, if needed, to help him do it.


The Ambitions of the Free School Movement 

The focus of efforts for educational reform from the 1960s until the present has been to create a school revolution : to make schools livable for all their human participants. This effort operates at several levels, aiming to :

  • restructure the classroom by creating an open, more flexible, classroom.
  • develop an ecological consciousness in response to the environmental crisis.
  • use a wide variety of different modes of teaching and learning, thus benefiting from the revolution in teaching aids and learning resources,
  • humanise the curriculum through the introduction of integrated disciplines such as general studies, the use of team teaching and small peer groups to develop human relations skills and to widen the range of resources available, the emphasis on arts, crafts and drama, and changing the teacher's role from an authoritarian one to one of guidance and consultation,
  • democratise the schools by increasing participation of students in real decision making at all levels, e.g., school policy, administration and school curriculum. Part of the aim here is also to break down hierarchical authority structures, to close the distance between students and staff.


The rise of the community school revealed the effort to take the school into the world and treat it as the class room, using the local community resources as the school's resources. The reverse is also true, of trying to bring the world into the classroom, In general the effort has been to enhance in d ivid u a l autonomy so that the student can conduct his own learning if, when and how he wishes, to minimise structure and maximise student freedom and self-direction.*


The Limitations of the Free School Movement 

In comparison to the establishment schools, free schools are often a humane paradise. As J. Holt points out, thousands of us are trapped in a dying institution . Many of us are suffering, and the free schools are helping to relieve that suffering. In a more creative sense they are experimental laboratories, humane enclaves in a dehumanising world, a base from which to change the wider society.


Although these efforts to bring life into the school may save the institution, they do not realise our educational aspirations. The basic assumptions underlying the school are still intact, leaving untouched the hidden assumptions, the understated  curriculum, the belief that education occurs with schooling, in a special place at stated times, and involving only the young. There are still only two parties to the learning process—a teacher and a student. Learning remains a process separate from the rest of life. The child is taken from the intimate environment of his family to a school of 500, from his brother and sister to a classroom of forty. Instead of two continuous adult figures he can be faced with numerous ever-changing adult faces (particularly within the community school).


In many ways the free school attempts to imitate the idealised conception of the intimate caring environment of the family. The location in a special institution of learning and the sheer numbers involved defeat this aim. How can a person learn how to live in an environment cut off from the experience of living? The efforts to encourage parental participation are largely hollow and a failure : structurally they are still outsiders. This failure is illustrated in the present teacher/parent difficulties at the ERA School (See article by T. Deamer following). Schooling is an example of the irrational rationality of our society, of taking a person out of his living environment and putting him into a school to learn about living.


The teachers and ideologies of the free school movement still essentially remain committed to teacher professionalisation and to schooling itself. All they seek is a revolution in the structure, rarely a revolution within themselves. The dream of the free schooler is that every school now existing will be replaced by a free school. They are not free : they are heavily dependent on state support. Their students pay fees, or rather their middle class parents do. They are the playmate of the professional class, a new status symbol for the children's parents and often, for their students an escape from the harsh realities of the world.


The conservative charge still remains, for whether they are trying to humanise the school, to make the school part of the community, or to make it a more efficient machine based on production engineering, all reforms are trying to prop up the system, trying to conserve the old institution. The movement still runs the risk of reinforcing the dominant system of compulsory knowledge and public training for corporate behaviour. The therapeutic ethos of protecting the child from the evils of the world is conservative. It leaves the world alone and draws off the energy for change that arises from frustration. It is an attempt to separate the quality of education from the quality of life in general. There cannot be little worlds fit for children in a world not fit for anyone else. If we accept the assumption that the whole of our life experience educates then this is what needs to be humanised. Whatever we do to improve the quality ).of life, for any person, to that degree we improve education.*


I hope that our present willingness to experiment with different kinds of schooling will help us to discover ways of learning how to make schooling unnecessary. As Lister says, 

'The better schools will start to deschool themselves: How? by relating much more closely to the environment, particularly the urban environment. They will do more field studies, go on more visits, travel more, and more and more people other than teachers will come in to the school'.


Yes, this is happening, particularly in the community schools, but it isn't enough. We need alternatives to schools : the revolution within the schools isn't sufficient. What is now needed is a revolution directed at the framework within which all education occurs. The social order, in stitutionalisation , specialisation and professionalisation are under attack.


The educational task of the 1970s is to question the very foundations of schooling, to create a revolution in the outside world. The task is the radica l restructuring of other institutional areas, to enable the elimination of the division between work/play and learning. The last act of deschooling is pulling down the bricks of the schools. The first act is not creating new schools but creating other alternative living environments as alternative learning environments. These themselves will go a long way to destroying the existing stranglehold of the schools.




The Personal Learning Environment and the Family 

I have said that our existing society and in particular its schools are destroying our ability to learn how to live. I have argued that we can begin to achieve an alternative by starting with the person, his nature, needs and potential. Out of our concern to facilitate the full satisfaction of his needs and the development of his potential, we seek to restructure our present educational environment and to create an alternative.


If we look at the world as the class room then we need to discriminate what aspects of our world teach us most about how to live. The first step towards a deinstitutionalisation of values is to deschool our educational consciousness. We need to recognise that most people learn what they know outside the school. What they learn and the usefulness of their learning depends primarily on the quality of their immediate environment and the degree to which it is open to their meaningful participation. t As John Holt says, 'Men learn best and most from what is closest to the centre of their lives.' The experience of our own personal environment is the fundamental learning environment for us and for our children: where we live, who we live with and how, is the basis of all our important learnings.


As most research has shown, family life is at present the crucial learning environment of the child. That's why committed schoolers argue for a lo we rin g of the compulsory school starting age. If we define education as John Holt does, as gardening, helping children to grow and to find what they want to be', rather than making them what we want them to be, then it is crucial that we prepare the soil, fertilise it, so that the person can grow according to his own spirit. In spite of our biases I think most would agree that to live fully a total educational environment is needed. This involves people of all ages: runs the course of our life, and is integrated into our life styles, into our living experiences. It is a human environment that expresses a concern for the total person: his thinking and feelings, his participation and observation. It is an environment of love and care as well as available material and natural resources. We learn best if we have the freedom to learn, if we are in an environment where there is flexibility and choices, where we can do our own self-directed learning .


Our task then, as educationists and as gardeners, is to critically examine the kind of soil the family provides. Can the family offer sufficient richness to maximise individual learning and growth? From where I stand, the isolated nuclear family needs to be challenged radically. The addition of more external supports (such as family therapy) will not eliminate the basic deficiency of the family as a facilitative learning environment. Structural change of the family is needed: a revolution in our personal environment, in our life style. Let me briefly illustrate why I think this is needed. 


Basically, I think that the family is too unstable (divorce rates rise every year), too small (an average size of four persons), and too isolated to provide the continuity and diversity of love that each person needs from his personal environment. It doesn't have the basic learning resources to provide its members with the knowledge they need to live. Alienation within and between families is rampant: parents are distant from their children, authority is concentrated in the hands of one person, patriarchy being the tradition. The monogamous ethic has effectively restricted love and affection to the family group A.G. Syder says the modern family is the smallest and most barren family that has ever existed. Each newly married couple moves to a new house or apartment There are seldom more than three children. The children live with their peers and leave home early. Many have never had the least sense of family*


The small size of the family necessitates a dependence on the external environment for material items, for social relationships, learning and work. The formal nature and the superficial exchange relationships that dominate externally mean that the pressure of relationships inside the suburban family unit is intense. Each is very dependent on the others for the fulfilment of their emotional needs. Outside there is a desert of relationships. Activities centre around man's work, women's social functions and kids' schooling. At weekends distant friends are visited for a chat: everyone is running everywhere and nowhere. A sense of local community is non-existant. The four person unit exists under a cloud of romantic myths, situated in a standardised row of houses, along a treeless concrete street, filled with nameless faces.


If the family doesn't serve its members, who does it serve? The economic system. We have divided the population into smaller and smaller consuming units, which leads to duplication items and excessive use of resources ; hence increasingly the family is just a consuming unit. At the same time it provides the economic system with its trainees (via the schools) and with its workers. In short, the family serves both needs of the economic system, for production and particularly consumption.


This external dependence, the lack of community and its internal breakdown provides the background to the search for an alternative personal environment—one that is larger, cooperative, and contains the crucial ingredients of community and freedom.


The Educational Potential of Communal Living 

I define a commune as the experience of continuous, intimate, interpersonal relationships with a group of chosen, purposeful, committed people, each caring for and sharing with all. For me, community is essentially the same, but relating more to larger, more structured groups, with less of the intimacy, closeness and commitment. Andrew Rigby defines intentional community as :

'A group of people who come together for some conscious purpose or other, shared or otherwise, in the pursuit of which they seek to create a communal mode of life in which, in varying degrees, they eat, work and live together as a group characterized by a relatively strong "we—consciousness": 

As much depends on consciousness as on structure in creating a communal life style. Having clarified what communal living is, I now want to move on to a consideration of its personal and educational potential.


The commune is a more facilitative personal environment than the nuclear family. When a person is continuously in an environment that satisfies most of his needs, he is more able to be self-directed, to look after his own learning. A deprived person has difficulty reaching out and risking in order to learn. The following underlines some of the facets of communal living which enrich a person's ability to reach out and learn. Communal living, expecially if it exists within an egalitarian framework, gives greater possibility for role diversity and exchange. It can reduce the in cre a sin g specialisation of tasks and responsibilities through sharing, thus removing the drudgery of continuous forced domesticity. By removing the compulsory repetitiveness of tasks it enhances their pleasurable content. If we enjoy our activities we are more open to learning and growing.


The sheer increase in the number of persons living together multiplicates the variety of potential relationships. This offers greater stimulus, flexibility, diversity and complexity, the joys of involvement with chosen people, of developing continuous intimate friendships with a variety of persons. The range of activities and learning possibilities within one's reach increases as the size of the primary group increases.


Structurally, communal living with its larger numbers of people, provides a learning environment that reduces the need to seek external learning opportunities. It thereby breaks down institutional specialisation and our present need to do our livin g all over the city. The communal environment provides a continuity in the physical, natural, and particularly the human environments that taking a person to and from school destroys. We need to bring together the areas of our life that are now separated, e.g., work/leisure/living/learning . If we are going to deschool then we have to reintegrate our mode of living and destroy the alienation that having specialised institutions generates. Our schools are only one expression of this.

Structural reintegration within a communal/cooperative living environment means that the person, irrespective of age, can experience his wholeness and that of his life's activities. His living becomes a Gestalt everything becomes more a part of everything else. We are alienated because we have pulled this Gestalt apart through institutionalisation. This alienation is the hidden curtriculum of our present mode of living. The rediscovery of this Gestalt provides the basis for our self-realisation.


Communal living provides the necessary personal intimacy without the limited membership of the the family. In a commune there is always someone there of value, whereas in the family, either mother or child are always in each other's hair, or mother is never there she's at work. In many ways, particularly in terms of size and the degree of interpersonal involvement, a commune stands between the family and the school.


Most importantly, when the commune is perceived as the learning environment, then education occurs as a part of our living. Each contributes to the other and is a part of the other. Our learning is stimulated as a consequence of struggling to live and vice versa. This provides a built-in motivator without its external imposition. It also eliminates the division made by schooling, the separation between learning and living. Such a learning environment says in effect that the process of learning to live is a life time experience. It doesn't start and stop with schooling.

A communal environment makes available a wid e r range of built-in learning resources and opportunities from a diversity of individuals than can the family. Any caring adult can teach much to a child even by paying attention to them, answering their questions, being with them and exploring their environment. Each person has the opportunity to be both teacher and learner, each with something to learn and some skills to contribute whenever they choose : a kind of informal free learning exchange. This awareness and the communal continuity enables the development of informal apprenticeships, where the relationships between teacher and learner are more likely to be of mutual admiration and care. For example, a pregnant woman can learn from other community mothers what her coming motherhood involves. In general, there is much that we can pick up from others merely by living with them.


By spreading our learning needs over a larger number of people our dependence on one or another 'teacher' is greatly reduced. In addition it eliminates, or at least greatly reduces, the need for institutionalised apprenticeships and the need to attend special classes for a particular learning need such as mothering classes. This kind of learning encourages individual initiative and reduces the feelings of powerlessness usually inherent in the learner situation and its formalisation. In a deeper sense, what is being provided in a communal environment is a diversity of adult and peer models : not just the superficial role models provided through the media and institutions but people who demonstrate in their living a greater sense of the range and depth of human potential.


Communal living has advantages for adults as well as children, for by diversifying child care, the parent, in particular the mother, is freed not only to become involved in other interests, but is enabled to enjoy her chosen moments with her child. As for the child, a permanent child care centre is built in, without the instability and uncertainty of caring characterising many child care centres. At the same time, the parents, in particular the mother, is not so dependent on the children to define her life 's meaning. The child is not confined to two parent figures, but has a variety of stimuli and intimacy with a number of adults. His/her personal life is experienced and developed within a community context, which helps him/her to deal more effectively with the reality of their future world.


To live and learn in a communal environment is a decision made by each individual. Except for very young children it is a chosen activity. What the person learns, what aspects of his potential he develops and when, is his own decision, his own responsibility. The responsibility of others begins when his form of becoming infringes upon their own. In the schools and the family, the arena of choice is severely limited : both are compulsory. You are into the family as a consequence of your parent's decision or lack of it, you go to school at the direction of the schooling authorities.


The increased educational power of the personal environment through living communally, shields the person from the  dehumanising impact of the wider world. However, the gathering together of caring, committed people within a communal environment by itself isn't sufficient. One of the lessons of the free school movement is that we also need the ingredients of time, space and resources. People collectively and individually are just one crucial resource. In addition we need access to the life of animals, birds, plants and the earth. In short, we need all the components of nature, and contact as well with man's creations, his technology which now is our tool for survival. We need modes of discovering, expressing and developing ourselves, such as the arts and crafts, drama, yoga and music.


What I am saying here is that living in a commune by itself isn't sufficient, although I think some form of it is necessary. The other ingredients can be and usually are an integrated part of communal living because the kinds of people who live communally recognise the importance of these other factors. If all the above elements are present, the person has a strong likelihood, if he so desires, of learning a great deal about himself and living through the experience of communal living. The educational value of this kind of environment in terms of the built in availability of learning possibilities would be greatly enhanced if different  ommunes clustered together to cooperatively share land and recreational and learning facilities*. In many ways this would be an alternative to the present unrealised concept of the neighbourhood. 


The question remaining for communal living and education is how far we can go in the elimination of particular environments that focus on learning.Is all we need to know, is all we may seek to know available in a communal environment, even a clustering of communes? In yesterday's world of the village the answer would be 'Yes.' The integrated world of the village community provided each with all he needed to know to survive, although its restrictiveness and narrowness limited his full development. In today's world and in the future, a wider access to knowledge is vital to develop and maintain our personal power. 


I have argued that the personal environment is crucial. However to maintain our freedom from the restrictiveness of the tribal village we need to re ma in open to the wider world. How much of that world can be made available at the personal environment level is very dependent on the increasing revolution in the flexibility of technology, particularly in relation to electronics and communications.


One of the learning restrictions involved in the personal environment is that everyday tasks of living often so absorb us that we never have the the opportunity to step back and reflect. The ability to step out of the demands of the present, the time,and space for inward journeys, needs to be built in to our life style. It still may be necessary to have access to men of wisdom : men who know the body, mind and spirit, and how to live. The creation of special facilities, inside and outside the commune, may be necessary. We may also need to go beyond the commune to acquire certain skills. However the creation of special skill centres of whatever kind needs to evolve as a secondary supportive function to the personal environment, not as an alternative to it. The personal environment, if we are to develop into whole persons, needs to remain the centre of our learning life. 


The Revolution Within the Educationist 

If the first step towards deschooling is creating an alternative personal environment then the final step is attacking the social order—the world classroom. As committed educationists we cannot sit back and leave unchallenged the continuing destruction of our own and others' humanity. We must act. If we are seriously concerned to become societal change agents then we need to begin with a revolution inside ourselves. We must start with our own person, liberate ourselves from our taken-for-granted  ssumptions such as the need for schooling and for professional status. We need to carefully consider our own condition. As RI). Laing says, 'no one can begin to think, feel or act now except from the starting-point of his or her own alienation.' This includes educationists. The generation of a facilitative environment isn't sufficient: we need humane facilitators. 'No radical change is possible without a radical change of the individual agents of change.' Thus, as Paul Goodman says, 'the only profitable training for teachers is group therapy'. To be a facilitator of change in another person isn't easy. How do we know that we really are acting for another? We can have some idea that we are facilitative if, as the consequence of our actions, the person has not only changed his values and/or behaviour, but has more power to decide for himself. To really know if this is true we need feedback from the person as to how he sees our action, and its value for him. If we are going to be effective gardeners of humanity we have to learn to not only value others, but in particular our own worth as a person. Liberation yes, but also affirmation and development. Only then can we responsibly act towards changing others.'  

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