Last week I wrote a pretty controversial post about the government’s role in the educational system. One of the points I made that is nearest and dearest to my heart is that school should not be mandatory. The government is not the parents- we are.
This idea brought about some wonderful and thought-provoking comments. So thought-provoking , in fact, that today’s post will be my attempt to address some of the questions that were raised by this non-conformist notion. Keep in mind that my responses are strictly my opinion, and I’m in no way claiming to be an expert on this sort of thing.
This is simply my way of putting forth the proposal, what if???
What would happen if school were voluntary?
Q: What of people who would take advantage of the non-mandatory policy to not bother to school their kids at all?
In order to answer this question, let’s take a look back in time. Education, as we know it, has only been around for less than 2% of recorded history. That’s it. Sometimes it may be hard for those of us who’ve grown up with school always being a fact of life to realize that this is not the way things have always been done.
If you take a look at the history of government schooling, it was primarily instituted in order to train factory workers for the booming industrial revolution. In fact, there are many people, myself included, who truly believe that the educational institution has actually set us back by taking away our self-sufficiency and instead made us a population driven by consumerism instead of ingenuity.
One homeschool approach that is ever increasing in popularity is unschooling. In short, these families simply live life as if school didn’t exist. Their children learn through living their lives and often working alongside their parents in daily tasks. It would be a terrible mistake to say that these children aren’t learning. It is impossible to separate learning from life.
Just as babies do not have to be given lessons in learning how to crawl, walk, or talk, children who are given the freedom to explore are often much better able to make sense of the world than those who are stifled by sitting inside a school building for 30 hours a week.
Suffice it to say, formal lessons are not the only way to learn.
Q: How do we ensure an educated society?
Well, how well is our educational system doing in educating our society today? For starters, the illiteracy rate hasn’t changed in ten years, despite all of the calls for early childhood education. An astounding 14% of adults in the U.S. fall below basic in their reading ability. Interesting fact- the literacy rate in MA before the institution of schooling was at 99%. It’s never been that high since the inception of compulsory education.
Today’s schools have become factories for drilling and test prep. Teachers today are no longer able to actually teach because they’re too busy either proctoring standardized tests or preparing their students to take them. Despite that fact, our nation still scores horribly.
I don’t see how we could do any worse.
Q: If the schools aren’t mandatory, wouldn’t people balk at using taxes to finance them?
Of course they’re going to balk. 😉 That doesn’t stop other voluntary publicly funded programs like Head Start, WIC, Medicaid, etc. People are never happy to have their hard earned money taken from them, but it is going to happen whether we like it or not. If anything, taxes would decrease because not as many students would be attending.
I know there is no perfect solution. I know there are kids who have hard lives and are better off in school, which is one of the primary reasons I think we should keep them in place, but on a voluntary basis. There are no easy answers. But one thing I do know is that something has to change. It’s time for this social engineering experiment to come to an end. We will never see real change until those in charge recognize that fact.
Unfortunately, though, I don’t see that coming anytime soon.