Whilst sorting materials for the archive of Professor Roland Meighan I came across some notes he’d made for either for a presentation or promotional material for his 1988 book on Flexischooling.

The notes reminded me of how Roland communicated so well and influenced my own thinking on education. He really believed that Flexischooling could develop into an educational approach fit for a modern democracy and fast-changing technological world. Nothing has changed since that time excepting the amazing growth of interest in the concept and of these networks.


Background Notes on Flexischooling

In a nutshell … Rigid systems produce rigid people and to develop flexible people requires a flexible system

John Holt has a proposal about how schools could be. It goes like this

‘Why not make schools into places where children would be allowed, and, when they asked, helped to make sense of the world around them in ways that interested them?’

In flexischooling, it is proposed that we should rename such places as Learning Resource Centres to avoid confusion with the day-prison version of school. They are places of freedom to learn – which is not the same as places of license, s state which is commonly confused with freedom.

Flexischooling is a complicated idea and it sounds rather demanding to implement, so why is it worth trying? A first answer could be that Flexischooling is the worst educational idea of the century – except for all others. We have, after all, tried the others and they have not being particularly successful.

A second answer relates to the nature of the modern world. We have a changing world. Its technologies and its cultures continue to grow and existing knowledge shown to be partial and sometimes in error. Rigid people cannot cope: flexible people have a better chance of coping.

Behaviour in the modern world is also complex. Sometimes we need authoritarian behaviour, the types of responses who know when it makes sense to take orders or to give them. At other times we need the self-managing skills of autonomous behaviour, and at other times we need the co-operative skills of democratic behaviour. The world is multi-dimensional. An adequate education means helping people to grow to match it. Our present school system is, for the most part uni-dimensional by offering predominantly authoritarian experiences, especially as the children grow older.

A third answer brings me to the need for adults to exercise a little humility about their achievement and their efforts in the world so far.

Paul Goodman puts it like this:
‘Fundamentally, there is no right education except growing up into a worthwhile world. Our excessive concerns with the problems of education at present simply means that the grown-ups do not have such a worthwhile world.’

Professor Roland Meighan (?late 1980s / early 1990s)

Come and join us at our next Flexischooling Event Flexischooling Learning Exchange in Birmingham, Saturday 18th April 2015
(See events in Flexischooling Facebook Groups https://www.facebook.com/events/153717478654997
… and information in the Centre for Personalised Education – Personalised Education Now Blog http://blog.personalisededucationnow.org.uk/2015/02/25/flexischooling-learning-exchange-saturday-18th-april-2015/

Peter Humphreys

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