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Reviews: Dismantling the Inner School

Dismantling the Inner School
Advance Praise for
What Really Matters
by David H. Albert
Foreword by Bernie Schein
(Hunt Press, 2012)

"The ultimate purpose of education is to learn to treat each other better."
- I said that. David H. Albert

From the Foreword by Bernie Schein, Author,
If Holden Caulfield were in My Classroom

If you're a parent, an educator, or anyone interested in learning, in becoming smarter, more creative, more imaginative, David Albert's Dismantling the Inner School: Homeschooling and the Curriculum of Abundance will delight you, stimulate you, and frighten you right out of your drawers. David is The Happy Revolutionary, happily opening wide the doors of our educational system and freeing the prisoners – all of us, we discover – happily unnerving the wardens, the guards, the keepers of the keys, happily sabotaging conventional wisdom - almost everything we’ve been taught about growing and learning – and finally, with great glee to say nothing of pure common sense – leading us by example to what we didn’t know we already knew, wisdom, and the ability to learn and to teach.

Like John Holt and Ivan Illich, of whom he is a disciple, David is for deschooling society, de-institutionalizing it, shucking the present system like a bad ear of corn. He takes pains to show us just how harmful it is, how progressively stupid it makes us, and how that stupidity – ignorance far from bliss – leaves our kids, ourselves, and our communities frustrated, stressed out, unhappy, and unfulfilled.

Answering a teacher's boring questions, following a teacher's boring directions, undergoing a relentlessly deadly education inspired by the dullest, most unimaginative, and, yes, most uninspired authorities the modern world has ever known, anonymous employees ensconced in the cubicles of the Educational Testing Service, leaves us, our kids and communities, David also suggests, fodder for any charlatan's imagination; a nation of sheep; submissive; in other words, cruel, or at least a party to cruelty. Think Robert McNamara offering up kids to the slaughter in Viet Nam, the "mean girl" in middle school, the demagogic politician serving his own interests instead of that of the community. By the time we question them, or they question themselves, it's after the fact. "I have to live with what I've done," says Colin Powell, after presenting the false evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, a lie that itself caused mass destruction. He believed what he was told. He followed directions. He didn’t know any better. I blame our educational system. He only learned to answer questions, not to ask them, and certainly not to ask his own.

Educated as one of the elite, a man of a thousand degrees, David shows us too how Western education made him stupid, and how "stupid" harmed him. So not only does he advocate deschooling society, he shows us the absolute necessity of "dismantling" the school inside us, our "inner school." Simply, we must "unlearn" to truly learn, to be true to ourselves, to our own feelings, thoughts, needs, and interests. David teaches us, again through example, how to unlearn and consequently how to learn. Indeed, time is of the essence, he says. Therefore, take it. Get rid of the internalized bells ringing, the rigid schedules and state-sponsored linear curricula inspired by fears of what you’ll "miss" (most of which you forget anyway), concentrate on what you’re good at (that's where you'll be spending your life), see failure as the natural process of elimination on your way toward eventual success. He identifies the "bricks", the old scaffolding, the institutional myths, the old hand-me-downs of conventional education as you learn from him to unlearn, then to learn.

If intelligence is, among other things, as David suggests, courage, humility, focus, centeredness, perspective, a sense of humor, intuition, analytical thinking, creativity, inventiveness, imagination, empathy - all of which are what it takes to be smart, to face the unknown, to make something positive out of it – have schools not really taught us this? Is David right?

Totally, Dude.

Review by Wendy Priesnitz, Life Learning Magazine, May/June 2012

David H. Albert has a new book out. It's called Dismantling the Inner School: Homeschooling and the Curriculum of Abundance.

"So if we are ever going to make peace with ourselves, and provide and education truly worthy of the name for our children, we are going to have to find ways to dismantle the inner school, brick by brick. If you are a slow learner like me, and allowed this mortar to fully harden, some of this is going to be the business of a lifetime."

The book identifies the bricks, and shows how to use the chisel. The bricks that make up Albert's "inner school" are things that Life Learning readers already know. They include: learning starts when school begins, you'll miss something and mess up your kids, there are special places and time for learning, there is someone who's more of an expert about your child than you are (actually, I think there is: your child!), things have to be learned "on time" and "on schedule," socialization only happens in a group of age-related peers, kids learn what they're taught, and so on.

One of the thing that makes this book a must read is David's inimitable style. As readers of this magazine, and our book What Really Matters, which he co-authored with Joyce Reed, as well as his conference audiences know, he is a master storyteller. He writes with humor and intelligence, and addresses the reader as if they were together in the same room, chatting over a cup of coffee.

Along the way, you’ll learn lots – obscure historical things, things about schools, things about homeschoolers, things about learning, and probably things about yourself that you didn’t know or had forgotten.

No matter that you'll have read some of the essays in this book (or versions of them) before, Dismantling the Inner School is a gem of reminders, ideas, insights, and wisdom for life learners and anyone else who cares about children and society.

What Others Are Saying

"David H. Albert's Dismantling the Inner School combines humor, wit, and comedy, along with common sense and plain good parenting. A must for those exploring homeschooling and for those who a better option for their youth beyond the traditional educational framework available in our country. Albert opens his readers' eyes to the possibility of raising a generation that thinks outside the box and still manages to show that one size definitely cannot and will not fit all. Entertaining as well as enlightening."

~ L.T, Bentley