Arno Stern, a German-Jewish pedagog, who escaped the Nazi regime and settled in France to found an institution that studies children's learning behavior in a random painting exercise says: people say that children shall be serious about life. I say children shall be serious about play. Dance, music, painting shall be their main occupation. A child can do what is wants to do and it wants to do nothing else than it can do.
Stern says that children nowadays suffer from information overload. They execute what adults expect them to do. The current educational system is according to Stern modeled for the industrial age: it shall produce a majority of blue collar and a minority of white collar workers. That’s an obsolete systemic approach.
Gerald Hueter, a German neurobiologist, picks up a thought that I had myself many years ago, when I heard how compulsory schooling was introduced by empress Maria Theresia in the Austrian Hungarian monarchy. He too claims that educational bodies are a result of a transgenerational experience. When compulsory schooling was installed, governments wanted schools to generate people fit for military and economy, therefore schools turned into corrective institutions.
Neurobiologically, man cannot be forced to study, he can only be educated if he himself wants to. The art of education consists therefore in inviting not forcing students to learn.
A study that was carried out on “divergent thinking”, the competence considered to be at the core of creativity, tested 1500 people of all ages. It found that 98% of 3-5 year old have this competence, but only 32% of 8-10 year old. This ratio drops even lower for 13-15 year adolescents (10%) and reaches a bottom for adults older than 25 (2%). The conclusion is crystal clear: in each one of us there is a genius. But: this competence deteriorates with increasing socialization, in particular schooling.
Erwin Wagenhofer describes in his film two extreme possibilities of schooling. On the one extreme end of the spectrum is the Chinese-Confucian concentration camp – like drill, on the other extreme a French individual who never attended a school neither received formal training. Which of these pedagogical methods shall mankind strive for? Which is the method I shall chose for my own children? These were the questions I was left with.