Let's Prehend
A Manual of Human Ecology and Culture Design

BBJ SCHOOL, A Simplistic Image to Temper the Traumatized

Imagine an ideal school, not as good as a school in an organic culture as portrayed in ECOVILLAGE, etc., but simply a school in the culture as it is, growing according to the principles of human ecology applied as culture design.

It should be a neighborhood school, to save gasoline and increase community process. The children walk to the school, and so should their parents, friends and relations. It should be small: extended family or clan sized, perhaps eventually organized with other schools in quasi-tribes. It is extremely important that everyone know everyone else, or at least recognize them. This alleviates the PROBLEM OF THE STRANGER, p.73 and recreates quasi tribal process.

The organizing principle can be anything, but anything chosen from the many options according to Ei objective value. A good choice might be a restaurant because the cooking and eating together is a most basic social processes. Food also offers an entre to the entire human heritage. Of course, so does any other theme considered from a broader point of view. Let's not organize it around golf, sports, cars, or other parasitic PASTIMES, to avoid the ELBY taboo on productive and creative activities.

The restaurant, call it the "BBJ Cafe", can operate on an extreme variety of economic levels. If the economy gets worse, these kids will be able to eke a meal from almost nothing, and will be skilled at organizing and serving the neighborhood. If the economy flourishes, it's a money-maker! The school might even be challenged by a tempting offer of a McDonald's franchise. In any event the very nature of the group will favor dealing with these issues on an appropriately deep level.

Age or skill or gender or any other criteria are either irrelevant or are minor concerns. Little kids can have a great time, and oldsters in the neighborhood can pitch in. The usual obsession with age grouping disappears. An organic group can handle problems more adequately and deeply than a rationalized, institutionalized abstract group. Any kid can wash dishes and clean the tables, all can use the computer and make progress at any or all tasks. People in general, kids in particular are great learners and gobble up knowledge and skills at a great rate if given a chance.

It may not be customary in our class-ridden, profit-dominated society for the kitchen help to understand the chemistry of what they are washing or cooking, or the cultural history of the dish they are preparing or the cost-benefit of the menu or the even the decor of the dining room. But for students of the BBJ School, who have not been to a regular school and who have never worked at an ordinary job, the WORK ethic, not the job ethic, will predominate.

Rather than seeking to meet minimal demands of the job to impress the boss or disparage their co-workers, the students will naturally loose themselves in learning everything about what they are doing, and maximizing their participation, both in breadth and depth. They will unconsciouslyand implicitly learn like the homo sapiens they started out as being, and hopefully will remain homo sapiens for the rest of their lives, regardless of the personal cost of such maladjustment.

The content of study need not be predicted. A formal curriculum would be deadly. Most children will learn the rudiments of food preparation, something about agriculture, food cultures of the world, nutrition, biochemistry, accounting and business law. If it becomes evident that some child is deficient in arithmetical skills, give her the job of cashier or accountant, but don't tell her its difficult. Will she be passive, or will she take maturing responsibility? What is preparation for life but life itself?

Constraints And Taboos, CATS, abound. Let's assume this approach to education is superior in all major tasks such as nurturing children toward competent, loving maturity. Then let's outline likely resistances.

It seems unlikely that any in the educational establishment would be inclined to use this approach. If some individual or group could collect the courage and rudimentary skill to support BBJ School, the next level up the administration, or the one above that, would likely kill the project. The education law is elaborate and difficult to change, frozen as it is by legislators who suffered through it and implicitly want others to suffer through it too. Imagine changing the law about school attendance, curriculum, age grouping, teacher certification!

Laws indirectly related to education offer more constraint, those laws regarding child labor, business and finance, legal liability, etc. Opponents could easily use and misuse the night soil of laws and regulations involving health and welfare, and any lawyer could wipe out the fledgling school. Perhaps only a LIBERTYVILLE, p.227 could handle the job.

Constraints might be grouped in these three categories:

  • First, the above legal restraints and their embellishments.
  • Second, the ELBY ethic which forbids productive or creative work. Most of our schools are limited to middle class skills such as writing or working with computers to get money, money that functions as an instrument of power to oblige the less fortunate to do the productive and creative work.
  • Third, such elaborate competence and expansive intellectuality is taboo to the lower-classes. Work of actually producing food and serving it should not have intellectual content, a trait reserved for the parasitic classes. Producers and servers should be dumb and obsequious, at least to their teachers and bosses. Uppity intelligence is a painful threat to a fragile system (FOC, p.37) and its denial seems essential to our system's survival.

One possible way past such horrendous constraints is some categorical protection, some ombudsman, some safe context. Perhaps well managed media could conceivably spread the word. BBJ schools could evolve and spread quickly. But such freedom seems a remote possibility. Why else would `freedom' be so widely touted - except to obscure its lack?

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