Monday, August 15, 2005

Reasons Not To Send Your Kid To Government School

Truthfully, there are any number of excellent reasons never to put any child in a government school. I plan to use my blog to enumerate as many as possible.

FIRST AND FOREMOST, ABOVE ALL OTHER THINGS, AND MOST IMPORTANTLY:

The government has no business funding or providing education to its citizens. This should be obvious. Sadly, it is not.

Secondly, to paraphrase Pope, a little learning is an individual thing. An individual effort and achievement. I'm coming to believe that attempting to "educate" an individual in a group setting is the equivalent of trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.

Education is individual. Each individual knows, and needs to know, unique facts, concepts, and skills in order to pursue a productive, happy life of their own choosing. No Lowest Common Denominator, Committee-Derived, Special-Interest-Influenced, Teacher-Union-Approved curriculum is going to do anyone any good. The kids who catch on quickly will be bored. The kids who need more time to understand something won't be allowed more time. The kids in the middle--and who are they anyway?--even the kids in the middle will be uninspired to do anything other than pass notes in class and plan what they will do in their free time.

I believe that I may be rather unusual in the fact that I have lots of vividly clear memories of my childhood. Here are things I remember learning about before, say, 6th grade, moments of learning that have stuck with me:

Solving for X
BASIC computer language
The art of M. C. Escher
Writing and directing plays
Writing, managing, and editing a newsletter
Playing 3 musical instruments
Using a telescope to view sunspots
Building forts using real wood and tools


Not one of those things did I learn in school.

What do I recall about my elementary school years? Apart from already knowing the material and being subjected to the peculiar form of humiliation known as "teach your peer how to do x", I remember recess mostly. And getting into trouble at recess when a friend and I set up a "science experiment" involving old batteries, ants, and a magnifying glass. I have few memories of sitting in class and having that "Eureka!" feeling. Wow, something I'm interested in and didn't know! Please tell me more!

No, it was more like an "I should have had a V-8!" feeling. Duh! What am I doing here?

Because the information being aimed my way, by well-meaning, entertaining, and usually very nice teachers, was information designed to teach the masses, not just little old me. So it was hit or miss. The important compelling learning moments I experienced were outside the classroom. This remained true even into college.

Education in a group setting can't work effectively. It is an idea that I've come to believe is inherently flawed.

More to come....

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