I became interested in education when in my teens. As a home educator I was even more determined to work out why schools don't deliver what they promise. Some children make it through - I was (still am) a good student. It's easy for people with my style of learning and interests to do well in school. However I failed Year 12 and that only made me look harder at what was going wrong with the way schools work.
We toyed with schooling throughout our homeschooling adventure. Getting involved in our local school at all levels was very educational. It was interesting to hear what the teachers, staff and educational bureaucrats were thinking about school education. Most of them agreed in part with the comments by the principles in the article you posted, but all of them were convinced schooling was still the way to go. Only a couple of the teachers I met thought that homeschooling was an okay option (and then only for some parents).
I came to see that it is the fact that we put children in an institution that is at fault. How can we expect social growth and socialisation to occur when schools can never deliver the ideal conditions for it? Children need access to the real world, real people doing real jobs, and a variety of social situations to develop socially.
I finally realised that the purpose of schools is to educate in one direction only - to deliver a compliable society that will perform as dutiful, consumers, able to be manipulated to serve the goals of the state. In my most paranoid moments I suspect that the state serves the captains of industry first, citizens second. The 'economy' is top dog and are educational system is designed to serve it. I can't see much that is educational - in a liberal sense which is how our society idealises education - in that.
Coaching a mob mentality is good if you want to control people's behaviour. It can be easily done by appealing to the emotions. Advertising operates on this principle. Educated people know and understand themselves and think critically and make informed choices rather than react based on immediate emotional response. It's ironic because emotions are essential for learning but our society and schools have dumbed that down by teaching children that learning must always be fun, or rewarded in some way - never valued intrinsically.
Of course schools encourage mob mentality. If the intelligence of children wasn't actively chipped away from an early age by the time they hit their teens they'd be rebelling en masse and recreating schools to suit a more humane model of education. Us oldies would hate that! We'd be on the scrap heap, no longer needed. Especially anyone in the education industry...
I see home education as a small light of hope for the future - a 'back to the future' approach to rehumanising society, moving it away from the obsession of 'economy'. Our children are socialised in the best sense of the word. And education happens naturally in an environment that puts children back where they belong - among adults, families, workers and in the community.
© Beverley Paine 2008
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