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Saturday, February 19, 2011

Unschooling Rule's Foreword by Jeff Sandefer

Here is a preview of the Foreword of Unschooling Rule (A featured book in Barnes & Noble stores) by education visionary Jeff Sandefer:

If somewhere deep inside you, you suspect there’s something wrong with America’s educational system, we have something in common.

As a successful entrepreneur and a Socratic teacher for the last twenty years, I’ve spent a lot of time working in and studying our educational systems. From the halls of Harvard Business School and inside my own classroom, to serving on blue-ribbon educational commissions for the Governor of Texas and working on educational reforms with scores of CEOs, I’ve worked inside the belly of the beast of education, where most of us aren’t allowed to go. It’s not a pretty sight.

For years I accepted the paradigm put forward by “Educrats” and worshipped by well-meaning political and business leaders: our K-16 educational system should be organized like a factory, where teachers and administrators busily pour knowledge into the heads of students in order to produce more productive citizens.

Then one day I had a wake-up call. Surprisingly, it didn’t come while working on an educational simulation with Clark or meeting with a reform-minded CEO or the Dean of the Harvard Business School, but with an elementary school teacher. And it all revolved around our own children.

My wife and I suspected it might be time to move our six- and seven-year-old boys from a Montessori preschool to a more traditional educational environment. So I asked for a meeting with one of the best teachers at one of the best private elementary schools in Austin, Texas, and asked: “When should we transition our sons to a more traditional system?”

“As soon as possible,” he replied. Somewhat taken aback, I asked why.

“Because the longer they are in a nontraditional school, the harder it will be for them to sit still and be lectured to all day.”

I pictured our two curious, lively, happy boys chained to a desk for hours on end, and before I could stop myself said, “I don’t blame them.”

The teacher looked at the floor for the longest time. So long that I thought something was wrong.

Then he looked up, with tears in his eyes, and softly said, “I don’t either.”

That moment, that day, I knew our family was finished with traditional education, destined to join Clark’s army of unschoolers. In that instant I saw why the K-16 factory analogy was so flawed, not just conceptually, but morally, too.

Because our two beautiful sons aren’t widgets. And neither are your children...

Get the full Foreword and the call-to-action Afterword by Jeff Sandefer in Unschooling Rules: 55 Ways to Unlearn What We Know About Schools and Rediscover Education.

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