The pleasure principle
More than 40 years ago the principle of pleasure was propagated in education under the keyword “anti-authoritarian education”. Everyone must have read the book “Summerhill”. According to my observations, this non-education, this refusal to educate by the parents has largely prevailed.
The burden of decisions >It is not the parents who decide what is good for the child, but the child itself. This is how the child is brought up to take responsibility for himself, is the reason given. The reason for this method, however, seems to lie more in parental insecurity, in the fear of a wrong decision and also in the convenience of the laisser-faire, laisser-aller. It is forgotten that the burden of the decision is simply passed on to the child, which is often overtaxed and becomes compulsive and moody in this overload. It becomes a habit for him to want everything, to demand everything and to get everything. His will becomes the yardstick of all things.
The pleasure principle
Today the principle of pleasure has top priority even in elementary schools; there are no commandments or rules, prohibitions and constraints are taboo, diligence and achievement are frowned upon. This “doing what one likes” also shows itself externally in the classroom: there is no uniform seating arrangement: there is a “cozy corner” or “retreat niche”, school desks are set against each other so that everything can be discussed and solved in a team.
The performance of the individual is not measurable in this way. Different groups devote themselves to different “projects” at different levels of difficulty. How difficult it is to guide and supervise teachers in this mess can be imagined vividly. It is actually understandable that many classes are led by several teachers, which, however, complicates the course of the school lessons even more.
The fulfillment of one’s own wishes is the ultimate goal. Consideration of other people’s needs or certain realities is not taken into account. This ruthlessness can already be seen today in many children and young people’s dealings with other people, in road traffic on bicycles or skateboards, in the careless handling of waste, in the inability to pass an apprenticeship or to master life in general. All too many seek protection from this challenge in the fog of drugs and alcohol during puberty or crawl into the social network of help offers. Others seek their limits in crime. The recently shocking violence among young people is an escalation of this “acquired” ruthlessness. It is the ruthlessness towards other people, towards animals and plants, towards foreign property, towards nature, ultimately the ruthlessness towards life.
A society free of values
This development is reinforced by the fact that the transmission of moral and cultural values, of role models, myths, religious contents, biblical stories was considered old-fashioned, racist or incompatible with freedom of opinion and religion and was already banned from kindergartens. A “value-free” society, in which there are no more values, ideals and spiritual contents, cannot recognise any other motives than egoism and selfishness in all areas. By referendum, the order to renounce the care of one’s own mother tongue, the Swiss German with its poems and songs, in favour of the adapted High German in kindergarten was at least partially repealed. This measure would have uprooted our children further. It is important for the child’s overall development that it understands and speaks a language that encompasses all areas of life and expresses feelings, thoughts, facts and values. In this way, the child gains security and the ability to express himself/herself linguistically. It develops the ability to communicate with other people and to express its own opinion. If the child has no opportunity to form his roots in his mother tongue, he will later feel homeless, between two worlds, as is often felt by migrant children. With roots in the mother tongue, the child will later find it easier to learn a second language. Every mother and father knows that children, especially from other children, learn a second language in an instant. Only those who were able to form roots in childhood will be able to grow and later form leaves, flowers and fruits.
Education for life
Where one consciously tears down all boundaries and barriers, prohibitions and rules, discipline and subordination for the individual, where one regards one’s own language and culture as inferior, where one renounces the conveyance of values and also (partly also for egoistic reasons) shuns living as a role model, one can only be afraid of the future.
How to put a stop to all these serious educational mistakes is a grave concern for me: to encourage children where they have interests, but at the same time motivate them for initially unpleasant tasks, to attract children into critical people, but at the same time to teach them to endure certain inadequacies or inconveniences, to let children become self-confident people and at the same time to develop in them a sense of responsibility for their fellow human beings and their environment – these should be our goals.
The design of the school must adapt to these educational requirements and support them. Learning goals, the transfer of knowledge, the schooling and training of mental, physical and artistic abilities must be subordinated to this fundamental goal – education for life. This should be the yardstick for the entire redesign of our primary school and not, as is the case today in large parts, to follow ideologies and superficial slogans that are outdated without criticism or thought.
Parents are responsible
Parents are responsible for their upbringing. This is the only way to ensure that our children and young people are not manipulated as masses. The “state” can only provide people as educators and teachers. People who also have mistakes and disadvantages. Although it can train these people specifically, it can teach methods and educational recipes, but education does not simply take the form of instructions. With the education also life views, values are transmitted. And these must not simply be left to the state. Totalitarian states are known to extend their power over citizens through schools and to block opposition and rebellion against injustice by indoctrinating children and young people.
Education does not simply require theses, methods and ideologies, it also requires heart, empathy, sympathy, commitment and example.
All-day schools pretend to many parents that they could hand over the responsibility for education at the school door. The educational responsibility must remain with the parents, however. This responsibility – unlike at school – is precisely assigned: Through the birth of their children, people have become parents and will remain parents throughout their lives. Upbringing is a demanding task. We as parents, grandparents or teachers can only face this challenge if we keep our eyes on it again and again: Our children will have to face the reality of life as adults. In addition to many beautiful things, they will also have to face unpleasant, painful and arduous situations. Let us educate our children so that they can accept life in all its facets!