Welcome to my life. It's a whirlwind of kids, chaos, pets, people, family, art, and being home (most of the time; I like to get out here and there). We unschool, so the unexpected is, well, expected...

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Unschooling is: post #6

In the absence of school and all it entails, children can be free to pursue their passion.

Our culture has gone the way of certification and qualifications and benchmarks and licensing and degrees and diplomas. Yet, what do those things mean? What do those things imply? That a person has put in a certain amount of time, read a certain amount of required literature, written a certain amount of required writing, taken a certain amount of non-essential required courses, done a certain amount of hands on work, and passed enough tests and examines.

Does it really mean that a person has reached a level of proficiency? Does it mean that person really knows what they are doing or that their knowledge is enough to be employable, and that they have a strong work ethic?

Our culture creates commodities of people. Early 20th century factories required functional expendable people that were literate enough to perform the required tasks. That model has been perpetuated many times over in the work force and the education designed to create a mass of employable people. Is it still necessary? Is this really what parents want for their children?

Chamille is old enough to have a job. What she wants to do is cut hair. To do so requires a license. This morning I read the history of barbering. The red and white striped pole stands for the two points of barbering, one of cutting hair, the white, and one of surgical procedures, the red. The pole itself is said to be used by the patient to hold onto and it had a cap on it that represented the container for holding leeches and catching blood. When a barber would finish with all that blood, those white cloths would be rinsed and hung out to dry, twisting in the wind and winding around the pole to create a twist of bloody cloths.

Many hundreds of years later, barber poles still exist to symbolize a barber shop. The first organization of barbers was founded in 1094. The practice of barbering is said to be around since 6000 BC. It involved the practice of hair cutting, teeth extraction, medicines, and other specialized surgical procedures. How many of those barbers today do any blood letting, amputation, or teeth pulling?

Somewhere along the way, barbering and surgical procedures got separated. Barbers were paid more than someone who was just a surgeon, until surgeons alone were used by British war ships during the naval wars. Since it wasn't referenced, I'm assuming these were the wars that came about with the advent of the Navy Royal in the time of King Henry VIII.

Barbering was a multi-tasked business practice of offering several services. Many hundreds of years created specialty services. The original practice of cutting hair still exists. One can go to a beauty school and get a license to cut hair. Separate from that, they can also get a longer and more expensive training in barbering, which also provides a license to cut hair. The difference, as near as I can tell, is the learning to do facial hair and learning the history of barbering. Kind of... Here's an excerpt from one barber school about what is learned in barber school, "Although barbering courses are often taught at cosmetology and beauty schools, there are also independent barber schools which are designed specifically to teach the time-honored profession of barbering. Students at barber schools learn such services as steam facials, facial massages, and foam shaves, as well as modern razor styling, hair cutting, coloring, permanent waving, and blow drying. Through these programs, students train for their state barber license, which is given by a state barber board."

I seriously doubt they teach any sort of blood letting as a time honored tradition of barbering! It's almost laughable, actually, that steam facials, facial massages, and foam shaves, are considered to be essential time honored traditions of barbering considering the actual history of barbering!

What DID get held onto after all those prolific things a barber did, was the credentialed aspect of it. The easiest part of being a barber is STILL being thrown into the arena of being so complex that one must be licensed to do it.

What I'm left wondering, is why do so many professions require licensing? If a person is really great at cutting hair, and performing all the services that a hair dresser does, what difference would a license provide? Most states license through the guise of "health and safety". Is hair cutting really for the health and safety of an individual? Is that a hold over from the history of barbering? Why is a profession relegated to aesthetics, controlled by health and safety? Despite the obvious reasons of disease prevention from the tools of the trade, it seems a bit overboard. Not only that, all schools in the area require a highschool diploma or a GED, as if somehow those things will make for a better cosmetologist. The benchmarks for those requirements have little to do with what makes for a passionate and talented hair dresser.

I must admit, my thinking has been influenced a bit by Ivan Illich's Deschooling Society. In the very first part of that book, he writes, "Rich and poor alike depend on schools and hospitals which guide their lives, form their world view, and define for them what is legitimate and what is not. Both view doctoring oneself as irresponsible, learning on one's own as unreliable, and community organization, when not paid for by those in authority, as a form of aggression or subversion. For both groups the reliance on institutional treatment renders independent accomplishment suspect."

I'm simultaneously reading "DIY U, Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education" by Anya Kamenetz. Both books say very similar things about how education, and the need for credentialed mass populations, may actually do more harm than good.

So, what does this have to do with unschooling?

Chamille really wants to get paid to cut and style hair. The way *I* see it, she should get on with the doing of that. There are barriers to getting there to legally accept monetary compensation for doing so. To Chamille it's no big deal to jump through that hoop, although, she has misgivings about doing all the extra classes that she has zero interest in that are generally required for getting a license.

For me, if, as a culture, we'd like a change in the status quo of the lack luster educational system, the worst thing one could do, is jump through the hoops and buy into that, literally. I don't have the answer.

Meanwhile, I will support my kids in getting what they want out of life, in the here and now. Right now, that might just be cosmetology school and all that it entails, state credentials and all! Even though, the subversive and aggressive part of me would like to say, "F that"!


Jill Domschot aka Arabella said...

Joel used to cut hair for donations, and he made a lot of perfectly legal money while in college. That could be a starting point for Chamille. But if she wants to do it professionally badly enough, she'll just jump through the hoops.

For some things, it would be better if the general population taught themselves how to do things that they expect professionals to do--like fighting a fire. On the other hand, I see the reasoning behind fire school and credentials. Joel's job is all about testing and credentials, and the classes are meant to save people's lives, especially now that the world is full of potential hazmat situations.

I don't know. Credentials are sometimes complete bullshit. Whatever happened to Chamille's apprenticeship?

Cheryl said...

These are excellent questions. Has Chamille looked into libertarian, voluntaryistic, or anarchistic philosophies? There are people out there who believe in their right to make a living without asking permission from those in government, and they are doing just that. She could easily look up and get advice from these groups. See the Free State Project in New Hampshire, for example. There were many such people selling their products and services at Porcfest last weekend (so I've heard). I assume Chamille cuts hair for family and friends, and she can ask them to get the word out that she offers her services. Some people may want her to be licensed. Others will just be happy if she does a good job.

I'm tweeting and putting a link to this post on my blog: fyeahunschooling.blogspot.com.

Sandra Dodd said...

-=- Why is a profession relegated to aesthetics, controlled by health and safety? -=-

Straight razors used on throats, I think.
That and the ancient tradition of guilds. Most guilds fell, but barbaring didn't. Medicine didn't; it works like a guild too.

Don't think of it as a modern bureaucratic inconvenience. Think of it as an ancient medieval craft!

it's not that haircuts are for safety, it's that those giving haircuts (and shaves) could kill a guy in a heartbeat, so they were certified as reliable and safe.

Jenny Cyphers said...

Jill, yes, she is totally willing to do the hoops right now. First hoop is the GED, but there is no hurry, she can cut hair in the mean time!

Cheryl, last fall Chamille and I watched the Anarchist Cookbook, interesting movie! She's not quite as reactionary as I am, mainly because she's grown up happy and un-frustrated with the world! These ideas do fascinate her though. But really it's more *my* thing, being a quiet subversive!

Sandra, that's a wonderful way to think of it! I was trying to find some connections there when I was doing my little research on barbering. Nothing hard and fast other than that the official first organization was form in 1094. It's a VERY old profession! And yes, the medical profession kept it's credentialing! I did think that the tools of the trade would be the reason for health and safety, same for tattoo parlors!

Nasheikah said...

you really Rock ! and u inspire me ...great post ! I have the same questions

Jenny Cyphers said...

Aw thanks Nasheikah! Got any answers?! ;)

Since I wrote this Chamille has cut the hair of 6 people. Any more takers? We live in Portland Oregon!