Public Education Cripples Our Kids

I always loved school. I loved learning of every form, and fit in well to the education system. But let’s face it, I was in the minority. After I graduated from college, I was a substitute teacher for a time. And the school I saw from the other side of the teacher’s desk appalled me.

It’s no wonder that teachers suffer from burnout and students sit bored in the seats. This system doesn’t work. It should be abandoned.

When it came time to educate my own children, I couldn’t bear to send them into such a broken machine. I knew that machine would chew them up and spit them out. So we decided to embark upon a life of joyful learning together, free from any restraints the “state” might place upon us.

I never regretted that decision. They are both adults now, both gainfully employed, and one is pursuing further education. Neither of them have a high school diploma; that’s unnecessary. But they have learned to think for themselves and don’t accept the status quo. They are not little carbon copies of what the government wants them to be.

We did schooling every way you can do it. Private school, homeschooling, and unschooling.

The best way, by far, is unschooling. Unschooling is allowing the child to study what he wants, when he wants. No mandatory curriculum, no tests, you as the parent just provide help and support when the child asks for it.

Unschooling solves the basic problem with school – boredom. It keeps kids engaged and interested. It respects them as individuals. It allows them to develop independent thought and out-of-the-box thinking.

Here’s a great article about the problems with public schooling by an outstanding educator, John Taylor Gatto, an educator for more than 30 years. The thing that makes me angry is how our government designed public education not so our kids could all get a high quality, free education, but simply “to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed and train a standardized citizenry, to put down dissent and originality.“ They want us to learn to obey and not dissent, to just fall in line. Read the article here.

What about kids with ADD/ADHD or other special circumstances? As a matter of fact, my son would very definitely have been diagnosed with one of these conditions had he gone to school. I refused to allow him to be labeled with a “disorder” just because he needs different learning conditions. As far as I am concerned, it is the learning environment that has the deficit, not my child.

Thom Hartman, former psychotherapist and founder of The Hunter School, a residential and day school for children with ADD/ADHD, in his book “ADHD: Hunter in a Farmer’s World,” put forth the theory that kids with these characteristics have a special set of traits that helped Hunter-gatherers survive and thrive, including an ability to constantly scan the environment for prey and for danger (distractibility), quick decision-making (impulsiveness), a willingness to take risks, and great flexibility. Such individuals, according to Hartmann, are able to totally throw themselves into the moment (during the hunt), have a sense of time that is elastic (it takes however long it takes to complete the hunt and down time is very slow), think visually, mundane tasks may be boring to them (thrive in situations that are stimulating), and they have an ability to become suddenly hyper-focused on their task. 

In today’s “modern” so-called “enlightened” age, the methods we use to teach, methods suited only to crowd control of large groups of children, are the very conditions which would activate those Hunter-gatherer traits. The ADHD child’s innate sense of safety is threatened by the struct rules and behavior standards of modern society. Some people would say, “Well, this is the society they live in, so they need to learn to navigate this system.” My question is, WHY? We live in a society that supposedly celebrates the individuality of each person. And yet we want to “force” these kids to lower themselves into the same morass of conformity the rest of us have accepted. If a person wants to live outside this system, they can. Many of the greatest thinkers in history had these traits, and had they been forced into the straightjacket of formal education, many of those great discoveries might not have happened.

We’ll be adding more resources over time, so check back regularly. For now, here are some helpful things:

Unschooled: Raising Curious, Well-educated Children Outside the Conventional Classroom

Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling

The Self-Driven Child: The Science and Sense of Giving Your Kids More Control Over Their Lives

Raising Free People: Unschooling as Liberation and Healing Work

Reading Doesn’t Need to be Taught

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