The Power of Me

Power and authority, hmm, how does one tackle that subject? It’s a bit difficult to dream about total freedom. I guess that in any society, how free it may be, there will always be some form of leadership. Stuff people say that others agree on, decisions someone makes that affect others. I think part of being connected, being part of the whole, means that we will always be influenced by literally everything that happens around us. From the way someone says “hello” (or doesn’t!) to the music on the radio, the way your teacher feels in class, your pupils feel, the fact that it rains or not… all these things will affect you in one way or another. I thinks it’s part of our instinct to rely on some people. People who have good judgement or resonate with you in a certain way, you tend to listen to them and reflect on their insights.

Power evolves from this, I think. If people are listened to, if others agree with what they say, one feels important and good because others seem to tell you you’re right, you’re doing good. But some form of responsibility comes along too. I think a sincere person will also develop a feeling of wanting to take care of the others. This is key, I think, in assuming power. Being aware of the responsibility, acting accordingly. Not being afraid to make the choices, but also making them with the best intentions.

In education we’ve tried this and somehow along the line we managed to create a structure that could be overprotective, that merely puts people into little boxes (“Little boxes, on the hillside. Little boxes made of tickytacky. Little boxes, on the hillside. Little boxes all the same…”). Our touch with The People somehow got a bit lost. Instead of teaching them, we’re telling them. Instead of learning, we are filling their heads. Maybe not the best approach!

Ivan Illich already said in so many years ago: “We need to de-school society. De-institutionalize society.” Get out of those “Little Boxes” and return to the core business of learning. Maybe that’s why we have to believe in the power of me. Not is a selfish kind of way, but from a personal point of view. We need to take the power back. Educate ourselves. As teachers, interact with students to really learn instead of just filling their heads with stuff. Stephen’s suggestions of what we should learn are brilliant and yet so simple. Back to basics! Learning how we can learn for ourselves. Teaching ourselves how to find information, work with it, reflect, interact, use it in new situations,… Maybe it’s here that schools must provide the knowhow to achieve these attributes. Maybe…

But then again, what will we say about schools in 50 years? Will we be to free? To open? I think it’s a bit like Foucault’s pendulum. We will try and shift our way of teaching (living/being) according to ideas of a certain timeframe, in the process however the earth shifts beneath it, constantly changing the parameters we will have to encounter. Nothing is ever the same, change is constant, chaos is all around us!


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