Tue, 10 May 2005

Compulsion Schooling 3

TMLutas still thinks I should be kinder to schools than I have been, if only so as not to offend people whose cooperation is necessary to move to a kinder, gentler school system. The trouble here is that most everybody thinks that schools can be reformed. They see problems with public schools, but they're fixable by doing more schooling. They suggest full-day schooling, or schooling at an earlier age, or year-round schooling. Or maybe they think they're fixable by introducing a tiny bit of markets, so that children attending a measurably worse school can be bussed to a school which is less bad.

I want to be very, very clear here. Our system of public schooling is broken on the most fundamental basic level. The foundation has a really big crack in it, and no glue, bondo, cement, or toothpaste will fix it. The crack in the foundation is the very essence of public schooling: that everyone is required to be there. First, there is no justification for destroying the freedom of children in this way. None whatsoever. Children are people too, and love freedom as much as adults. Second, the people who really don't want to be there will do their best to make life miserable for everyone else. Why not? They have nothing better to do, from their perspective. Third, even the people who want to be there will have a harder time learning things simply because they are being forced to. Learning is an intensely intellectual practice, and caging the beast doesn't make it more rational.

Saying anything less leaves space for tinkering. The schools cannot be fixed by changing them in small ways. They can't even be fixed by changing them in large ways. They have to be changed at the lowest level, by making them optional. Only in this way will they live up to their potential, up to the children's potential, up to the teacher's potential, up to the administrator's potential.

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