Archive for the 'Education' Category

The Right Model for Education

I recently came across a very particular private school, the Sudbury Valley School. This school has, when compared to traditional schooling, very radical policies. Children come in for at least five hours a day, do what they want, then go home. There are several aspects to this kind of free schooling or unschooling which I think anarchists will find appealing. Children are I think by nature rather curious, and learn from almost any experience they have because the world is all new to them. It would make sense that the child would be most ready to learn the thing that they would prefer to do. The Sudbury Valley School has pretty low costs ($7400 per year irregardless of age) compared to both public schools, and traditional private schools (my private middle school cost about three times as much). Also I think the cost could be even lower given that the facilities at SVS are extremely high quality.

This certainly was true of my own early education. I would say that I was educated despite my formal schooling, not because of it. I found that it was very hard for me to learn things from courses that I had to take because the school forced me to do so. I resented them for restricting my freedom, and potentially wasting my time. Having discussed the issue with my mother some, her point of view was as I think it still is that children needed the kind of school structure because otherwise they would be out on the streets hurting themselves and others, and that I was some kind of a rare exception for wanting to educate myself on the internet all day.

I found and still find this perspective to be a propaganda message that the publicly operated schools put into parents. I think that the reason that some children to things which are considered bad, joining gangs doing drugs etc. is because they feel a need to rebel against the authorities that are attempting to control their lives. It seems to me in the 18th and 19th centuries, when the schooling was much less invasive, there was far less crime among children and teens. Formal school also is horrendous for the poor despite some people’s good intentions. The poor would be better suited to grow up in an environmental where they work and learn a trade from an early age (ie apprenticeships) so that they can attempt to pull themselves out of poverty. It seems to me the idealistic picture of a child from a poor family becoming the next great scientist or engineer is something that really doesn’t happen often enough to justify the teaching of advanced science to every person alive.

What about self-education? Have we forgotten that potentially one of the best ways to become educated about some subject is to go out and read some books on it and then talk to some people who know something about it. I find this by far to be the best way for me to learn something, and the internet is an amazing tool for learning in this way. The school to me says prison, slavery, and duty while reading things on the internet says freedom, community, and discovery. Milton Friedman’s school choice doesn’t go far enough (and has various problems), people shouldn’t be forced to pay (at threat of jail) for the “education” of others in these prisons called public schools. The nice sounding slogan “It’s an investment in the future” is all well and good until you realize that really no one is learning much for all the money were putting in, and that the category of things that could possibly count as investments in the future (sending Newt Gingrich to Mars) is so wide that clearly not all of them are good ideas. We need to end public schools now, and implement low-cost private schooling along the lines of Sudbury Valley.

This argument, for completely free schooling, was made much better than I can by Murray Rothbard in his book “Education: Free and Compulsory” which can be found here.

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