What I Think

It took me several long years to convince myself of the truth of several theses that I find extremely important today:

(01) That education has to do with learning (not with teaching);

(02) That what happens to children in schools, as a result of teaching, is not learning, being, in the best possible case, nothing more than information absorption and assimilation — which may be important, in certain contexts, but otherwise make people “mentally obese” (Rubem Alves), and certainly is not education;

(03) That learning, as such, has to do with capacity building and competency development, that is: to learn is to become capable of doing things which one was not capable of doing before;

(04) That important, relevant and “significative” (meaningful) learning takes place through active observation, emulation, interaction, dialogue, collaboration, mediation, etc. in the context of projects that challenge children (or any other would-be learners) to solve problems related to their interests and concerns in the process of living their lives in the real world;

(05) That this kind of learning is more impeded than promoted in artificial ghetto-like environments such as schools, even if these environments are effective in achieving the conventional objectives schools normally seek to promote, and even if they are reduced in scale to operate in one’s own home, but try to replicate the schools that exist outside, as most home schooling initiatives do;

(06) That what we need today is a radical unschooling (in the line of Ivan Illich’s “deschooling society”) that definitively breaks the factual link that exists today between education and schools (a conceptual or necessary link never having existed);

(07) That home education (provided it does not emulate what goes on in schools in terms of its goals, contents, methods, approach to evaluation, etc.) is clearly part of the solution, since the home certainly must become again a meaningful and coherent educational environment, but is only a portion (though a significant one) of the large-scale solution that is presently required;

(08) That home education must be complemented by educational efforts by the extended family, the community (neighborhood), the church, the club, all the other places of leisure and play, the places of work, the social networks, the media, etc. — in one idea, by the society at large, that must become a learning society – without any overall effort at coordination by governments or the like;

(09) That the fundamental content of this education is basically contained, as far as cognitive (or hard, or basic) competencies are concerned, in the Medieval Trivium (the first three Liberal Arts: Language, Logic and Rhetoric), and, as far as the so-called non-cognitive (or soft, or 21st-century) skills, in Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Very Effective People;

(10) That the mastery of numerical, geometrical, symbolical, scientific and artistic competencies (that make up the Medieval Quadrivium) can be gradually inserted, in a personalized manner, into the education of learners that demonstrate interest and aptitude in these fields and to the extent that their passion and talent permit.

(c) Eduardo CHAVES, 2017

In Ubatuba (SP/BR), on the 9th of July of 2017

Postscriptum of June 16th, 2018:

I wrote this Decalogue one year ago, in June 2017, while I prepared a paper for the PBL-2018 Conference on Problem-Based Learning and Other Active Methodologies, which received the title “Reinventing the School or Deschooling Education?” (The Conference took place in February 2018 in Santa Clara, CA, in the campus of the Santa Clara University).

Although I wrote this Decalogue only one year ago, the ideas that came into it had been taking shape for well over 50 years, ever since I started High School in 1961 in a boarding school in Brazil, the Institute José Manuel da Conceição, located in a small community in Jandira, SP, in the neighbourhood of São Paulo. These ideas were fairly well completed, in a coherent educational outlook, by the time I was President of the Lumiar Institute, responsible for the Lumiar Schools, during 2007-2009.

I originally shared this Decalogue in my blog “EduTec Space” (https://edutec.space) on the 9th of July of 2017. I share it again, in the same blog and in a different blog (“Chaves Space”, https://chaves.space), for the benefit (I hope) of those who didn’t read it then.


2 thoughts on “What I Think

    • You already know most of it… I’ve been publishing it piecemeal on Facebook and on my blogs. Here I intend basically two things: (a) to bring it all together; (b) to do it in English, in order to reach a broader, global audience (I hope). Thanks for commenting.


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