Why Our Coercive System of Schooling Should Topple
I’ve been called a crazy optimist, a Pollyanna, a romantic idealist. How can I believe that our system of compulsory (forced) schooling is about to collapse? People point out that in many ways the schooling system is stronger now than ever. It occupies more of children’s time, gobbles up more public funds, employs more people, and is more firmly controlled by government—and at ever-higher levels of government—than has ever been true in the past. So why do I believe it’s going to collapse—slowly at first and then more rapidly—over the next ten years or so? Here are four reasons (adapted from the webpage of the Alliance for Self-Directed Education):
1. Our coercive schools have become increasingly and evermore obviously harmful to kids.
The increased time, tedium, and stress of schooling is bringing many kids to the breaking point or beyond, and more and more people are becoming aware of that. It can no longer be believed that schooling is a benign experience for children.
2. Evidence has mounted that children and adolescents can educate themselves remarkably well without coercive schooling.
As more families are choosing it, more others are getting to know people who have chosen it and can see firsthand the evidence of its success. At some point, when everyone sees the evidence, the gates will open and the coercive schools will begin to empty out. People will begin to demand that some of the public funds currently spent on coercive schools be spent on learning centers and other facilities that support Self-Directed Education, so all families, regardless of income, will have that option.
3. Self-Directed Education is easier to pursue now than it was in the past.
As Self-Directed Education becomes more common, as more and more people, including education authorities, know young people taking this route and see their success, the social barriers against it are decreasing.
Another reason for the increased ease of Self-Directed Education lies in technology. Today, anyone with a computer and Internet connection can access essentially all the world’s information. Self-directed learners who want to pursue almost any subject can find articles, videos, discussion groups, and even online courses devoted to it. They can gain information and share thoughts with experts and novices alike, throughout the world, who have interests akin to theirs.
4. Changes in the economy favor the skills developed by Self-Directed Education.
What we do need, and will continue to need, are people who think critically and creatively, innovate, ask and answer questions that nobody else has thought of, and bring moral values and a passionate sense of purpose into the workplace. These are the kinds of skills that are continuously honed in Self-Directed Education.