This article, published in Teacher Plus, shares some thoughts about our vision of and experiences with unschooling.
The Emperor Has No Clothes: Hacking the Education System Fellowship
THE EMPEROR HAS NO CLOTHES: HACKING THE EDUCATION SYSTEM FELLOWSHIP APPLICATION DETAILS
Let us start with a story about the state of our education system to help set a context for this Fellowship…
Many years ago there lived a wicked and greedy Emperor who cared only about his designer-labelled clothes and about showing them off. One day he heard from two swindlers that they could make the finest suit of clothes from the most beautiful cloth. This cloth, they said, also had the special capability that it was invisible to anyone who was either stupid or not fit for his position.
Being a bit nervous about whether he himself would be able to see the cloth, the emperor first sent two of his trusted men to see it. Of course, neither would admit that they could not see the cloth and so praised it. All the townspeople had also heard of the cloth and were interested to learn how stupid their neighbors were.
The emperor then allowed himself to be dressed in the clothes for a procession through town, never admitting that he was too unfit and stupid to see what he was wearing. For he was afraid that the other people would think that he was stupid.
Of course, all the townspeople wildly praised the magnificent clothes of the emperor, afraid to admit that they could not see them, until a small child said:
"But he has nothing on"!
This was whispered from person to person until everyone in the crowd was shouting that the emperor had nothing on. The emperor heard it and felt that they were correct, but held his head high and continued with the procession...He was afraid to admit to everyone that he had been bamboozled. So he carried on pretending that everything was alright.
INSPIRED BY THE WISDOM AND COURAGE OF THE SMALL CHILD, FOLLOW SOME HACKS THAT OUR FELLOWS HAVE WORKED ON.
“The modern factory-schooling education system is one of the greatest crimes against humanity. One hundred years from now, we will look back at the violence of schooling and ask how we could we have done this to innocent children?” - Manish Jain, Shikshantar Andolan
We are issuing a call to rise up like the child in the story and expose the Naked Emperor of Formal Education and Schooling. This is a fradulent system of learning whose purpose is to convert beautiful diverse human beings into robot-like "human resources" and into stupid global consumers. It is time to stop pretending that schools are spaces for meaningful learning or that they can be fixed. It is time to free our imaginations about learning and living from the suffocating monoculture strangle-hold of factory-schooling and the global economy. It is time...
The second HACK THE EDUCATION SYSTEM FELLOWSHIP is for 7 weeks in India and this year we will have an online component for those based outside of India. During this period, you will be exposed to some of the wildest ideas about learning and education from around the world. And help to co-create and share some wild and crazy prototypes. Note: We don't want ideas to reform or fix the existing system - we want to hack it.
Hacking means: to playfully deconstruct, break into, to cut to the core and expose, disrupt, dismantle, decolonize, provoke, playfully make fun of, help escape from, co-create new experiments, re-imagine, change the game…Hacking is not about reforming or fixing the system.
During this fellowship, you will be asked to conceive, design and implement a project that will help hack the existing education/factory schooling system and promote alternative pathways of self-designed learning (see below for past project ideas). You will also be expected to give some time each week to help other Fellows with collective hacks and to interact with international mentors. This will be a very fun and intense period with the minimum time commitment at 20 hours per week. For this period, fellows in India will receive a basic stipend of Rs.12,000 to support their living/travelling expenses (we will not be able to provide fellows outside of India with any financial support). All fellows will be supported in developing a project proposal for crowdfunding if they wish to take their project forward after the fellowship period.
The Fellowship programme will be scheduled as such:
- Week 1-2 - May 15-25 - Hack Camp in Udaipur: Meet all the fellows and engage in intense co-creation and design thinking process. Work on collective hacks.
- Weeks 3-6 - Away on your own time: Work on collective hacks. Prototype your project. You are expected to engage in weekly check-in calls with your mentor and Sangha fellows.
- Week 7 - June 25-July 1 - Hack Camp in Udaipur: Celebration, sharing experiences and discuss how to take their prototypes forward.
THE APPLICATION FORM WILL BE LAUNCHED ON APRIL 3, 2017.
LAST DATE FOR SUBMISSION OF APPLICATION IS APRIL 23, 2017.
THE FELLOWSHIP PERIOD WILL TAKE PLACE BETWEEN MAY-JUNE, 2016. INDIAN FELLOWS MUST ATTEND BOTH THE HACK CAMPS IN UDAIPUR (week 1, 2, and 7).
FELLOWS LIVING OUTSIDE OF INDIA ARE ELIGIBLE TO APPLY. THEY WILL BE INVITED TO PARTICIPATE FOR SELECTIVE HACKING CHALLENGES ONLINE DURING THE 7 WEEKS. For fellows that are participating online, you will need internet access to check in and connect with others. We will be using Zoom as our collaboration tool. Further logistics will be worked out once we know the various timezones participants are joining from.
Note: The full fellowship will be open to those currently living in India. Hackers who apply from other countries can join in for selected activities.We will share the online meeting rhythm with those living outside of India at the end of the April.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO 'HACK' THE EDUCATION SYSTEM?
The essential point of the fellowship is not to try to reform or improve schooling; this itself has become a big business. We want to shake up the game. Some examples of potential hacking projects include:
- make videos, plays, music, presentations, art, comics, art/photo exhibition, etc. critiquing the system and sharing ideas about deschooling our lives such as 'I Just Sued the School System'
- organize meetings, gatherings, roadshows or unconferences around the country with hackers, unschoolers or people who are critical of schooling
- promote gap year, bridge year concept such as 'not The Only Way'
- help kids escape compulsory classrooms and get involved in their communities
- get teachers to expose the violence of the education system and apologize for their crimes
- undermine, make fun of or cheapen the degree/certification system
- challenge areas where people without degrees/certificates are being discriminated against
- help students default from their school-college loans
- help challenge culture of surveillance and CCTV cameras
- research how tribal schools are destroying tribal culture and build campaign exposing it
- create opportunities for kids to re-engage with their traditional knowledge/culture/land/elders
- promote local languages, creative expressions and dialects
- promote the value of free play
- research nature deficit disorder and promote more learning opportunities in nature and with the forest
- create the space for 'uncertified' community mentors in local communities to re-validate their knowledge, voice and role
- create interesting livelihood opportunities for those without degrees
- develop tool kits and resources for self-designed learning
- develop tools to engage parents, joint families and homes in self-designed learning
- create unschooling community learning spaces/camps/gatherings/unconferences for sharing learning resources