By Ted Wachtel
The “learning system” was proposed by Kenneth Silber in 1972, as an alternative to our contemporary “educational system.” The learning system envisioned by Silber served people throughout their lifetimes, rather than our front end-loaded system of compulsory schooling for everyone under 18 years of age. Silber envisioned people leaving and entering the learning system at any age, as their needs required.
Interestingly, he also imagined that there would be no schools or professional teachers, except in optional structured learning centers. However, I know that many people love schools, their traditions and events. Realistically, at least at the outset, most people will choose a school over other learning modalities. But the learning system would allow also more options than “which school?” Significantly, a learning system would offer more opportunities to “learn by doing.”
As Silber points out in a side-by-side comparison chart (below), a learning system is more consistent with the American Constitution and the Bill of Rights than our coercive educational system. In accordance with restorative practices, my hope is that in a new reality freedom of learning will be seen as a basic human right—like freedom of religion.