Children as such are not usually included among the oppressed. Yet they necessarily compose one of the weakest, most dependent and defenseless sections of the population. Each generation of children is not only helped but hindered and hurt by the elders who exercise direct control over them. Children are normally unaware of the social causes of their misfortunes and miseries and even the grown-ups may not know about them. Most parents cannot be held individually responsible for such misdeeds for they, too, have been shaped by the society around them and are obliged to follow certain ways out of necessity.
The class structure quickly impresses its stamp upon the personality, conditioning and regulating the relations between the sexes, the rich and the poor. This determines both the characteristics of the educational system and of the children tutored and trained under it.
Children soak up knowledge and retain it for use. The child learns best through direct personal experience. In the primary stage of education these experiences should revolve around games. They progress fastest in learning, not through being drilled by rota, but by doing work and experimenting with things. Occasionally children need to be alone and on their own. But in the main they will learn more by doing things together. By choosing what their group would like to do, planning their work, helping one another do it, trying out various ways and means of performing the tasks, involved and discovering what will forward the project, comparing and appraising the results, the youngsters would best develop their latent powers, their skill, understanding, self-reliance and cooperative habits. Participation in meaningful projects, learning by doing, encouraging problems and solving them, not only facilitates the acquisition and retention of knowledge but fosters the right character traits: unselfishness, helpfulness, critical intelligence, individual initiative.
As most people know free education and free schools were one of the first and most insistent demands of the working class in the last century. The bourgeoisie made this concession partly because it could afford to and mostly because it fitted in with its own interests.
However, history shows how subservience was bred and enforced in the schools. Business, big or little, directly or indirectly, has the economic, political and propaganda power to exercise a veto over the whole realm of education. The capitalists know what they want: schools which serve their profit system. Schools are institutions where children are indoctrinated with bourgeois ideology. They create an outlook that is warped and make apologists for the system, not careful investigators. The ideological submission of the working class is the most powerful shackle preventing it from taking power, and our education system is one of the factors in achieving this.
The way in which the class struggle is fought out within the educational system is as clearly apparent as the direct confrontation of classes on the factory shop-floor. Those involved in the struggle for better schools must face the fact that the functions of education in a class society is to give the working-class child only enough skills to enable him to be exploited in the work place and not to emancipate him from social drudgery. An illiterate work-force are of little usef to the modern employer. The class function of the school is to fit the working-class kid for the factory floor or the office desk – to exploit him and not to emancipate him. The educational process is deformed by the pressure of class interests. Education under capitalism must be conducted primarily in the interests of the ruling class.
One day we will have the power to make changes. Every movement that desires to change the social order must go to the people. An equalitarian society, functioning, not under authority and economic pressure, but by the common consent, can never flourish except by the active willing co-operation of the mass of people. There can be no socialism until the the majority desire socialism. An educational revolution is needed; is in fact overdue. The world will one day be ours, so let’s start fighting for it.