The Right to Education


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[Universal Declaration of Human Rights] Article 26

"(1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages"

In the Information Age "fundamental stages" need more than Blackboard and Chalk.

The computer is the tool for modern education.

Education must be Free in a much more fundamental sense, like Free Software (Free as in Speech, not free as in beer). We must educate all children in Freedom itself. The most important kind of educational freedom after access to educational materials and institutions is the ability to teach oneself. This would be the most important thing that schools could do, but for one problem: It is not in their power to do. Children already know how to teach themselves.

Little children learn at a rate incredible to adults. They become fluent, not in a foreign language when they already know one, but in language itself, starting with no knowledge. They learn their society and culture. They learn elementary physics and math. They learn things that nobody even recognizes as learning, because we can't remember when we ourselves didn't know it.

Schools as presently constituted teach children not to learn. Children get the idea that they can't learn on their own, because they are largely forbidden to learn on their own, and they are largely forbidden to enjoy learning anything. Fortunately, not all children learn these lessons. Some are irrepressible, and some learn otherwise from other sources.

[Seligman]'s research on [Learned Helplessness] has shown how helplessness can be created, and also how to immunize people against it. Families, cultures, religious traditions, and other influences may inculcate helplessness in some cases, but (knowingly or unknowingly) follow preventive practices in others.

People accustomed to wielding power unopposed in the family, in churches, in the economy, and in politics can't abide people who aren't helpless. We, on the other hand, seek to teach women not to be helpless against infection by their husbands with AIDS and other STDs, or against excessive pregnancies, or personal violence. We seek to teach everybody not to be helpless in their local economies and in the global economy as well, nor in local and global politics.

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