"If you want to influence [the student] at all, you must do more than merely talk to him; you must fashion him, and fashion him in such a way that he simply cannot will otherwise than what you wish him to will."   So argued the German philosopher Johann Gottlieb Fichte, a prominent figure in the alternative school movement and the founder and director of the New York based Alternative Education Resource Organization (AERO), little has changed. In a recent interview with The Eternities podcast, he said, "I'm sure that was the template they used and it's been that way ever since."   Now in its twenty-fifth year, AERO seeks to bolster the alternatives, networking globally to facilitate learner-centred education and help set up schools which share this philosophy.The traditional system [has it that] children are naturally lazy and need to be forced to learn. It's all based on that," said Mintz. "For example, competition for grades, all the forced homework, all these external rewards, because they don't believe that anything [to do with learning] is intrinsic.   "Kids are natural learners. This is backed up by modern brain research. The brain is aggressive, it wants to learn. Over six or seven years [in traditional schooling] it gets gradually extinguished. So, by the time you get to age thirteen or so, it becomes a self-fulfilling process, in which kids do then act as if they are lazy and need to be externally motivated to do anything."   "Ultimately, all knowledge is linked, therefore it doesn't matter where you start, if you go deep enough, and you're interested, you will learn anything you want."   Mintz also sees the bullying epidemic in public schools as the result of their organisational philosophy. "They come up with various programs to stop bullying. But [they] will never, ever work, [because] the system itself is an authoritarian, top-down system which will always have somebody at the bottom to be bullied. There is no way to change that unless you have an egalitarian system in which everybody's rights are respected. That is true in our schools and there is almost no bullying."   ...[Continue reading on Theeternities]