Thursday, April 14, 2011

School vs. Education

(From Emily the Strange: Dark Times, by Jessica Gruner, Rob Reger, and Buzz Parker.)

"It's not that I object to education.  Not at all.  I just haven't found any in the schools I've been to so far."


  1. PsychMom says:

    This is the conclusion I'm coming much as we try to deny it, school's primary function is to look after our children while we work. Now, I know that's blasphemy, but if so many people are not satisfied with what goes on at school, yet they do not remove their children, what else could possibly be the real reason children are there. You can't say, "It's the law", because homeschooling is an option.

  2. Well, you could say that the primary function of schools is daycare, but they don't even do that right. Working parents are constantly scrambling to fill in the gaps left by school and its antiquated schedule.

  3. The nice thing about "education" is that it doesn't have a generally agreed-upon meaning, so it gets slapped by a flexible standard depending on who's using the term.

  4. I do think the main purpose of school, at least at the elementary school level, is to look after the kids when the parents can't. I don't see why that's such a terrible admission. I think most of what the kids are made to do in those grades doesn't have much of a long-term effect on them, and that the things we most care about -- that they learn to read, and that maintain their curiosity about the world and see learning as enjoyable -- could be achieved better and with much less intervention, just by providing a safe, supportive and intellectually stimulating atmosphere.

    It's precisely the idea that the schools have to justify their existence by doing stuff to the kids -- "making them learn" -- rather than just looking after them, that causes school to turn into a boring, anti-educational drag.

  5. I totally agree with Chris. I told the school that I'm a "Reverse Twist." By that I mean that whereas most parents are coming to the school with an Oliver Twist-ian "More Please," I'm actually asking them to do less, or at least lay off my kid as much as possible. This really stuns the school administrators. They can't imagine a parent just wanting their kid to go to school, learn to deal with other people and functioning in a "system", be happy, and learn a little something in the process.

  6. John Holt (I think) estimated that the entire contents of elementary school could be taught to a bright kid in about 100 hours of one-one-one tutoring.

    I have often wondered about a school which would provide fun daycare (running around the playground, arts & crafts, whatever was interesting for the kids) and then take kids out one or two at a time for tutoring.

    You could probably achieve more real learning with a lot less stress and wear and tear on the kids.

    I'd sign my kid up for a school like that, if it existed --

  7. PsychMom adds:

    That is my dream school...summer camps extended all year long. Where kids choose what interests them, and do things in groups of their choosing.

    It sounds deliciously simple and it would be so good for the under 12 crowd. Imagine the energy those kids would bring to whatever they were doing.

    What cruel minds they must have been who created "school" 150 years ago..