(Taylor 2012) Learning in freedom

Taylor, Astra. Learning in freedom [Internet]. n+1. 2012 Feb 21. Available from: http://nplusonemag.com/learning-in-freedom. Accessed 2012 Apr 26. Archived by WebCite at http://www.webcitation.org/67DA7UJrz.

Taylor rebuts Dana Goldstein’s critique of her earlier article on “Unschooling”, partly on the ground that Goldstein gives a misleading account of Taylor’s argument. Taylor denies that she ever issued a call to “empty the schools” (an editorial tagline from n+1’s table of contents, never used in her article). Goldstein treats unschooling almost entirely as a matter of homeschooling, while much of Taylor’s article had dealt with the Albany Free School. Taylor affirms the critical importance of public education, and clarifies that she does not aim at universal adoption of existing models of unschooling (such as her own homeschooling or the Albany Free School), but at cost-free universal education that frees the learner rather than relying on coercion. Taylor reminds Goldstein that there are large local differences in public education in the USA, with serious problems in some districts (as Taylor herself had experienced during the three years she went to public high school). Compulsory public schooling would strengthen the grip of repressive school districts; the Albany Free School had served in part as a safety net for “problem” children who did not fit into the mainstream. Meanwhile, schools have become more coercive and demanding since the 1960s. Goldstein minimizes the gravity of the genuine failures of public schools and blames the victims for withdrawing. De facto progressive defense of the public school status quo creates a public-relations opening for the Right to exploit. Goldstein’s “peer effect” argument, taken to its logical conclusion, would imply that progressive parents should enroll their children in the worst possible school districts, which is seldom if ever done. Instead, parental economic competition for the best school districts perpetuates and exacerbates inequality far more than unschooling ever could.



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