Sunday, January 25, 2009

A new way the money goes

When I see the capital that is needed to save the banking sector and the automotive industry, and maybe there will be other sectors, I can't help but asking myself if this money is more real than the one these sectors have produced so far. There must be some endless reservoir somewhere. Maybe politicians have finally managed to find the only endless resource in the Universe before scientist have.

Anyway, as there seems to be no limit regarding the money that states manage and are asked to bring up, the other question that strikes to my mind is, if it's not time to seriously consider the proposition of a "Guaranteed minimum income" (GMI) for every citizen, or as I would prefer to formulate it, for every human being on earth - child or adult.

If you think this is a crazy idea which is not practicable, you probably have have one excuse and one reason for that. The excuse may be that you never have considered the idea - and therefore you have never taken the time to think it over in depth.

Recently I have read an interesting and convincing book by Götz Wolfgang Werner, a quite famous German businessman. The book is called Einkommen für alle. Der dm-Chef über die Machbarkeit des bedingungslosen Grundeinkommens, Kiepenheuer & Witsch, Köln 2007, ISBN 978-3-462-03775-3.

If this guy, who has proved many times in his career as a successful business man, to have a profound knowledge on a lot of what has to do with money, is convinced that the GMI is a feasible concept, I think it's worth considering the idea. I invite you to take the time to read about this visionary proposition come back to the negotiation table, when you have made up your mind on the basis of your own arguments and on the basis of arguments that you can find in quite a few sereous sources. So far for the excuse.

Now what about the reason for possibly rejecting the idea? You actually may think that people will never be mature and responsible enough to make a substantial contribution to society if they are not forced to work to earn some money and that this would be the end of society how it works today.

To this I must answer with two questions: Isn't the option to make a substantial contribution to society dependent on decent life conditions? And second, what in the end has been the substantial contribution to society of those who have a major responsibility in probably one of the biggest worldwide economic crisis the world has seen so far?

I don't want to go in a detailed discussion about the success of current economical models, as I don't want to speak to much about the necessity to save automotive industry in order to save jobs of ordinary employees or corporate jet users, when at least one of the main reasons for the decline of this industry, besides mismanagement, is that people have stopped considering buying cars as one of their priorities for the moment.

What I'm mostly interested in is what the effect on education would be of such a measure like providing every person on earth with a basic income that would be high enough to live decently and safely.

What would education be like if teachers and parents would not feel obliged to tell their students and children "If you don't learn you won't get a job, and you'll suffer all the consequences of being unemployed; no house, not enough food, no decent living for your children, no whatever you can think of that you only get if you got a job and enough money?"
What would the messages to the coming generation be like if there were no such threats like : "If you have no job, you will be forced to live in the street, to steel, to beg or at least you will always be dependent on someone else to survive?"

Maybe you would ask children more questions like: "What would you like to do in your life? What occupation would you find challenging?" Whatever their answer would be, you could reply: "Fine, if that's your life project, wouldn't it be great to find out what could be important to know if you want to do that?"

I'm sure there would still be people wanting to be astrophysicists, politicians, teachers, farmers or car builders. I can also imagine that there would be people doing nothing or doing the wrong things - as many do today - paid or not. We would also have to think of what incentives could motivate people to collect our garbage.

But what I am sure of, is, that we would develop a different viewpoint on what is important and interesting in life and what education is for. At least we could ask everyone what her/his life project is, without being sarcastic.

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Some Reading Milestones

  • Towards reflexive method in archaeology : the example at Çatalhöyük (edited by Ian Hodder) 2000

  • The Book of Learning and Forgetting (Frank Smith) 1998

  • Points of Viewing Children's Thinking: A Digital Ethnographer's Journey (Ricki Goldman-Segall) 1997

  • Verstehen lehren (Martin Wagenschein) 1997

  • Computer im Schreibatelier (Gérard Gretsch) 1992

  • The Boy Who Would Be a Helicopter. Uses of Storytelling in the Classroom (Vivian Gussin Paley) 1991

  • La cause des adolescents (Françoise Dolto) 1988

  • Scuola di Barbiana. Die Schülerschule. Brief an eine Lehrerin. (Edition of 1980) / read in German 1982
    Letter to Teacher by the Schoolboys of Barbiana (1970)
    Lettre à une maîtresse de'école, par les enfants de Barbiana (1968)
    Lettera à una professoressa (Original Edition) 1967

  • Vers une pédagogie institutionnelle (Aïda Vasquez, Fernand Oury) 1967

Documentary Films on Education

  • Eine Schule, die gelingt (by Reinhard Kahl) 2008

  • Les temps des enfants (Jacques Duez) 2007

  • Klassenleben (by Bernd Friedmann und Hubertus Siegert) 2006

  • Lernen - Die Entdeckung des Selbstverständlichen
    (Ein Vortrag von Manfred Spitzer) 2006

  • Die Entdeckung der frühen Jahre
    Die Initiative "McKinsey bildet" zur frühkindlichen Bildung (by Reinhard Kahl) 2006

  • Treibhäuser der Zukunft - Wie in Deutschland Schulen gelingen (by Reinhard Kahl) 2004

  • Treibhäuser der Zukunft / Incubators of the future / Les serres de l'avenir; International Edition (by Reinhard Kahl) 2004

  • Journal de classe, 1ères audaces (1), Les échappés (2), Sexe, amour et vidéo (3), L'enfant nomade (4), Remue-méninges (5) (by Wilbur Leguebe, Jacques Duez, Agnès Lejeune) 2004

  • Spitze - Schulen am Wendekreis der Pädagogik (by Reinhard Kahl) 2003

  • Journal de classe, (by Wilbur Leguebe and Agnès Lejeune; Jacques Duez) 2002

  • Etre et Avoir (by Nicolas Philibert) 2002

  • The Stolen Eye (by Jane Elliott) 2002

  • The Angry Eye (by Jane Elliott) 2001

  • A l'école de la providence (by Gérard Preszow) 2000

  • Blue-Eyed (by Jane Elliott) 1996

  • A Class Divided (by Jane Elliott) 1984

  • Eye of The Storm (with Jane Elliott) 1970

Past quotes of the day

For every problem, there is one solution which is simple, neat and wrong. Henry Louis Mencken

Traveler, there is no path. Paths are made by walking.
Antonio Machado

The best way to predict the future is to invent it. Immanuel Kant

The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them. Albert Einstein

To paraphrase a famous quotation, all that is necessary for the triumph of damaging educational policies is that good educators keep silent. Alfie Kohn

We used to have lots of questions to which there were no answers. Now, with the computer, there are lots of answers to which we haven't thought up the questions. Peter Ustinov

I had a terrible education. I attended a school for emotionally disturbed teachers. Woody Allen

A professor is someone who talks in someone else's sleep. W. H. Auden

When I was an inspector of schools I visited one classroom and looked at a boys book. He'd written, 'Yesterday, Yesterday, Yesterday, Sorrow, Sorrow, Sorrow, Tomorrow, Tomorrow, Tomorrow, Love, Love, Love.' I said, 'That's a lovely poem.' He said, 'Those are my spelling corrections.' Gervase Phinn

Real thinking never starts until the learner fails. Roger Schank

If what is wanted is a reexamination of schooling in terms of purpose, structure and process, then testing programmes are the wrong vehicle (...) Caroline V. Gipps

Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts. Albert Einstein

Act always so as to increase the number of choices. Heinz von Foerster

Another way of avoiding teaching is by relying exclusively on a textbook, workbooks, and other commercially packaged learning materials. Teaching is reduced to administering a set curriculum without giving any thought to the substance of what the students area learning or to their particular needs. H. Kohl

The right to ignore anything that doesn't make sense is a crucial element of any child's learning - and the first right children are likely to lose when they get to the controlled learning environment of school. F. Smith

Learning is the human activity which least needs manipulation by others. Most learning is not the result of instruction. It is rather the result of unhampered participation in a meaningful activity. - Ivan Illich

Too often we give our children answers to remember rather than problems to solve. - Roger Lewin

I have never let my schooling interfere with my education. - Mark Twain