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Anarchism and education

Anarchism has had a special interest on the issue of education from the works of William Godwin and Max Stirner onwards.

A wide diversity of issues related to education have gained the attention of anarchist theorists and activists. They have included the role of education in social control and socialization, the rights and liberties of youth and children within educational contexts, the inequalities encouraged by current educational systems, the influence of state and religious ideologies in the education of people, the division between social and manual work and its relationship with education, sex education and art education.

Various alternatives to contemporary mainstream educational systems and their problems have been proposed by anarchists which have gone from alternative education systems and environments, self-education, advocacy of youth and children rights, and freethought activism.

For English enlightenment anarchist William Godwin education was "the main means by which change would be achieved." Godwin saw that the main goal of education should be the promotion of happiness. For Godwin, education had to have "A respect for the child’s autonomy which precluded any form of coercion", "A pedagogy that respected this and sought to build on the child’s own motivation and initiatives" and "A concern about the child’s capacity to resist an ideology transmitted through the school."

In his Political Justice he criticizes state sponsored schooling "on account of its obvious alliance with national government". For him the State "will not fail to employ it to strengthen its hands, and perpetuate its institutions.". He thought "It is not true that our youth ought to be instructed to venerate the constitution, however excellent; they should be instructed to venerate truth; and the constitution only so far as it corresponded with their independent deductions of truth.". A long work on the subject of education to consider is The Enquirer. Reflections On Education, Manners, And Literature. In A Series Of Essays.



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