Francisco Ferrer on education

“When the masses become better informed about science, they will feel less need for help from supernatural Higher Powers. The need for religion will end when man becomes sensible enough to govern himself.”

Francisco Ferrer Guardia

Francisco Ferrer born 10th January 1859. Radical freethinker, anarchist, and educationist behind a network of secular, libertarian schools in and around Barcelona. He was convinced that the only way to regenerate society was through a new system of education – an education Ferrer preferred to call rationalist, which we would call libertarian, free from all dogmas and systems whether they be religious, political, nationalistic, republican or what you will. His execution, following a revolt in Barcelona, propelled Ferrer into martyrdom and grew an international movement of radicals and liberals, who established schools in his model and promoted his schooling approach.

In La Escuela Moderna, published after his judicial murder, he wrote: “Education means in practice domination or domestication. I do not imagine that these systems have not been put together with the deliberate aim of securing the desired results. That would be the work of a genius. But things have happened just as if the actual scheme of education corresponded to some vast and deliberate conception; it could not have been done better. To attain it teachers have inspired themselves solely with the principles of discipline and authority, which always appeal to social organisers; such men have only one clear idea and one will – the children must learn to obey, to believe, and to think according to the prevailing social dogmas. If this were the aim, education could not be other than we find it today. There is no question of promoting the spontaneous development of the child’s faculties, – or encouraging it to seek freely the satisfaction of the physical, intellectual and moral needs. There is question only of imposing ready-made ideas on it, of preventing it from ever thinking otherwise than is required for the maintenance of existing social institutions – of it, in a word, an individual‘ rigorously adapted to the social mechanism.

…The teachers are merely conscious or unconscious organs of their (the ruling classes) will, and have been trained on their principles. From their tenderest years, and more drastically than anybody, they have endured the discipline of authority. Very few have escaped this despotic domination; they are generally powerless against it, because they are oppressed by the scholastic organisation to such an extent that they have nothing to do but obey …”

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