Education

Many of the problems facing the U.S. educational system reflect the patriarchal, materialistic, short-term thinking of modern culture. A Green educational policy will be based on modeling and teaching the following values: We view learning as a lifelong process to which all people have a right. Society should be fully committed to the value of continuing adult education and to providing appropriate opportunities for it (including community-based programs and release time and/or tuition assistance from employers).

Institutional policy

The current inefficient, hierarchical, and bureaucratic government-run educational system must be decentralized and, within minimal equitable standards, given over to democratic local control at the level of the classroom and individual school.

We call for exploration of a wide variety of government-funded institutional alternatives and educational methods, including cooperative schools, home schooling, and other creative schooling options.

We support increased funding for education and a shift in decision-making responsibility and funding control for education, so that teachers are making most decisions about the curriculum, school goals and policies, specific students, school accreditation, and administrative and staff hiring, with significant involvement from parents, older children, and the local community.

We support after-school programs for children of single or working parents, and we oppose compulsory preschool education.

We oppose the traditional pretense that education can be value-free or value-neutral, which has resulted in a public education that cannot intelligently address the whole child or the whole of life. We call for students and teachers everywhere to examine critically the subtle yet pervasive biases such as materialism, consumerism, reductionism, sexism, racism, deferral to "experts," acceptance of hierarchy, and so on that are built into their educational systems.

Parent education programs should be developed in such areas as child development, educational tasks, parenting, and creative nonviolent discipline; parents should be invited to assist in their children's education and school activities.

We are deeply concerned about the growing direct intervention of corporations in our schools. While they often promote vocationalism, conformity, and the culture of consumption and waste, we recognize the possibility for socially and ecologically sensitive corporations (with proper monitoring) to bring positive contributions to education.

We will work to make educational faculties, administrations, Boards of Trustees, and student bodies better balanced by race and sex.

We challenge all those who profess concern for social justice to volunteer as big sisters and brothers to needy school children. Only through caring, consistent, respectful human contact can we hope to break the cycle of drugs, crime, poverty, and materialism that threatens children of all races across the nation.

Curriculum content

We advocate an experimental and exploratory approach to education for both teachers and students. In addition to teaching the basic skills of reading, writing, and arithmetic, Greens advocate holistic education emphasizing the challenge of creating a sustainable, just, and peaceful society in harmony with the Earth and its life.

We propose developing critical thinking skills that include those for evaluating the media, questioning authority, and solving personal problems.

We advocate including alternative political perspectives, alternative economic views, and the unbiased study of religions in the curriculum.

We propose intercultural education, including histories of important movements for social and environmental change and an unbiased "herstory." And we advocate teaching personal responsibility relating to self, the group, and the globe-the critical teaching of practical citizenship and current events.

Bioregional awareness and perspectives should be incorporated into many aspects of the school curriculum and should include direct experience of nature as an interactive whole as the foundation for all other natural study and science. The bioregion should also be a focus for social studies, emphasizing its changing history, the environmental and human effects of past development patterns, and the multiple cultural contributions and interplay among the several peoples who have lived, worked, and played there.

The local environment should be the core of the curriculum. We would foster love and respect for the place that nourishes us, while respecting the similar attachments of other peoples to their environment.

We advocate creative, noncompetitive art education at every age level as a curricular necessity in a holistic education, and we support the integration of the arts and artistic method into other areas of the curriculum as well. Local arts and crafts from past and present can make an important contribution to art education.

We also advocate the teaching of health education, nutrition, physical development, and appropriate sex education.

Skills

All too often our schools foster conformity and blind obedience instead of treating students as people who deserve respect. We recommend instead a student-centered education that supports the following psychological elements: self-respect, self-awareness, enhanced intuition, coping and consensus skills, the ability to express one's feelings, and feminine consciousness.

We oppose the tendency in many school classrooms to rely upon rote memorization, seeking the "right" answer, and the separation of theory and practice. Instead, we support the enhancement of such skills as hands-on learning, problem-solving, learning to make connections, and respect for diversity of sex, race, and ethnicity and of different learning styles and abilities.

We believe that class-divided education denies children in the inner cities, in poor rural areas, and on Indian reservations even minimal survival skills while giving a privileged minority the confidence and connections necessary for success in the rat-race world.

Every student should learn reading and writing, the skills of personal financial responsibility, use of a computer, parenting, the ability to think critically, and how to resolve conflicts nonviolently.

We condemn the overwhelming focus in our schools on team sports, which divides our children into winners and losers - with "winning" being "the only thing." We propose instead a physical education program to make young people aware of their bodies and to help them balance physical, emotional, and intellectual growth, as well as a sports program that emphasizes cooperative play and the achievement of personal goals.

Educational technique

We urge that teacher-training programs be reformed to include more careful study of child development, better applications of educational methods to children's age-specific characteristics and abilities, encouragement of creative teaching techniques and experimentation, practice in nonviolent discipline and personal communication strategies that will encourage student motivation based on a positive self-image, training or experiences in several arts and crafts, and more thorough evaluation and detailed feedback on student teaching experiences.

Learning experiences should accord with the natural growth rhythms, stages, and developmental abilities of students. The learner is empowered through self-directed, hands-on, and experiential (both active and receptive) learning experiences.

Based on our belief that everyone is intelligent and that learning is a two-way street, we subscribe to a shift of focus to active learning on the part of both student and teacher.

We believe in avoiding externally imposed motivation through behavioral modification techniques, reward and punishment, or the grading system. Students should be encouraged to develop their own intrinsic capacities to succeed.

We advocate a ban on corporal punishment throughout the United States. Students should be free to make mistakes so that they can learn through personal experience feed-back what works and what does not. Fear of failure inhibits a person's ability to learn.

We advocate the promotion of peer counseling and teaching. We also support encouraging older children to work with younger ones for mutual academic and emotional benefit.

Goal-setting and evaluation of the learning process should include the input of the student along with that of the teacher and should be based on progress, enjoyment, and creative ability to come up with a new response in each situation rather than the ability to meet standards and to conform.

We support expansion of the traditional concept of the classroom: bringing in plants and animals, growing food, and an increased use of the schoolyard, nearby woodlands, and neighborhoods. Excessive regimentation of the classroom in terms of both spatial design and the temporal division of the day must be avoided.

We recommend expanding the use of many kinds of nonclassroom learning involving a variety of types of "teachers" from the local community (whether they have credentials or not). These experiences, which could include public service projects, field experiences, and work experiences, should be valued as highly as academic learning.

Higher education

All people have a right to continuing or higher education. Such education should be publicly financed and viewed as a good and necessary investment in our future.

We deplore the trend toward specialization in undergraduate schools. We favor policies that encourage holistic, interdisciplinary, bioregionally conscious college curricula as essential for the development of effective citizens. Students must learn how to learn.

We call for more participatory, interdisciplinary educational methods such as interdepartmental team-teaching, nonclassroom learning/living experiences, guided independent research, travel, and field experience. We oppose the ever-increasing military and corporate control over the priorities and topics of academic research.

We insist that students and communities have real participation in school decision-making, and students over their course of study. Higher education should be a cooperative activity between students and faculty.

Students are now implicitly taught contempt for physical labor; others, usually persons of color, do the hard work needed to maintain the institution. We therefore urge all students to engage in some reasonable amount of physical labor to maintain their school.

We reject the excessive focus on Western civilization in collegiate humanities programs and call for the full integration of the cultural and scientific achievements, histories, and so on of Native American, African, Asian, Pacific Island, Latin American, and other societies.

We oppose federal-grant and loan-program coercion of students to register for the draft, to sign a pledge not to use drugs, or to conform to other standards that infringe on civil liberties.

We oppose so-called financial aid packages that burden graduates with loans to the point where they cannot enter lower-paying public interest professions.

The bioregion must be incorporated into curriculum planning. The university must be a responsible citizen of its bioregion in order to train its students to be likewise.

We support variety in types of institutions of higher learning: schools of preventive medicine, schools of public-interest law, schools devoted to social change, peace and nonviolence, and so on.

We decry the pervasive "publish or perish" dynamic that forces teachers to neglect their teaching. Continued employment must be offered equally readily to top-notch teachers and to expert researchers and writers.

All too often college and university professors have little or no training in pedagogy. We favor such training for all faculty members at schools that receive public funding or tax breaks.

No higher education program, whether in the social or "hard" sciences, can be complete if it fails to provide students with a thorough grounding in alternative and appropriate technologies and policies, such as those espoused throughout this document.

Educating society

Beyond schools, we attempt to educate through concrete projects and actions of Green groups and through the personal examples we provide in living Green principles. Green party campaigns bring our message to wider publics. We must recognize the tremendous educational power, for good or ill, of existing and emerging communication and computer technologies. We need to monitor and use the media to convey the Green message every possible way. Internal education of Greens should be a regular part of our meeting and forums, so we can be clear about what unites us as well as what divides us. It also helps new members and friends learn what we are about.