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Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Defect of Schools

Many people say that schools aren't designed to train independent thinkers. Schools are designed to create obedient wage slaves. Schools are designed to train people so they won't mind wasting 9 hours/day in a pointless job.

There are lots of interesting sources about the history of schools on the Internet. John Taylor Gatto has a free online book, although I've only read the first chapter. There also is a collection of his articles. I liked this article on lewrockwell.com. Here is an interesting collection of links.

One problem with schools is that they cater to the average student or the special education student. The incentive is to focus on the students who are just barely passing or in remedial education. There is no attempt to make sure that exceptional students reach their full potential. Imagine if as much money were spent on the top 5% of students as is spent on the bottom 5%.

In many ways, trying to keep all students at an equal pace is communism. The faster students are forced to learn at the same pace as the slower students. After all, mandatory government schooling is one of the planks of the Communist Manifesto.

Before government got in the business of education, free market education worked very well. People were actually learning to be independent thinkers. However, an independent thinker is not the ideal sort of person to work in a factory or a cubicle. Many of the initial problems with factory workers in the late nineteenth century was that the workers were TOO educated. The workers were smart enough to know a raw deal when they saw one. The business leaders got together and decided to find a way to train willing worker/slaves.

Mandatory government schooling was the solution. Schools train people to be a "good citizen", which is really a euphemism for a "good slave". When people are forced to pay for schools via taxes, that destroyed the free market schools. Only a wealthy person can afford to simultaneously pay taxes for schools and pay for a private school. In the present, private schools follow the model set by government schools. Private schools have a higher quality, but they still follow the same flawed assumptions.

Mandatory government schools were funded via property taxes. Property taxes are another plank of the Communist Manifesto. People don't actually own their land; they merely have a perpetual transferable lease from the government. Schools funded by property taxes also mean that people living in wealthy suburbs can have better schools than everyone else.

Schools are funded by taxes. In other words, schools are funded by the threat of government violence. This means that government schools are funded even if they fail miserably. The incentive is to fail miserably, because that attracts more funding. The worse schools are doing, the more taxes can be raised and more money is given to the school bureaucrats. Government funded schools are NOT exposed to free-market competition. Further, most people are facing such a crushing tax burden that they can't afford to both pay for government schools and send their children to a private school. As usual, government services paid by taxes destroy free-market competition.

Schools train people to not mind when their time is wasted. Most of the tasks that a child is given in school are a complete and utter waste of time. Reading, writing, and arithmetic could be taught at a much faster rate if so much fluff material wasn't also mandated. Schools train people to obey the random orders of authority figures. Schools train people to eat at certain times, recreate at certain times, and go to the bathroom at certain times; all those skills are needed by a factory worker.

Schools prevent people aged 13-22, when they are most energetic and intelligent, from doing useful work. Instead of spending those ten years doing useful work and accumulating wealth, people aged 13-22 are instead a financial drain on their parents. Instead of starting their own businesses at the age of 13, they are trained to be corporate wage slaves.

Age-grouping is harmful to students. Before the era of mandatory government schooling, free market schools did not group students by age. The teacher taught the oldest students, and the older students were expected to teach the younger students.

Age-grouping of students also encourages bullying. The largest student in each age group is able to bully the other students. The average student becomes accustomed to abuse by their peers. Without age-grouping of students, the older students would make sure that the younger students didn't bully each other.

Ability-grouping is also harmful. The students labeled as "bad performers" become accustomed to their role. They wind up changing to match the label that's been assigned to them. The "high performers" don't receive enough extra challenges to allow them to reach their full potential.

The grading system used in school affects people's thinking. You start with 100% and are punished for each mistake. Perfection is needed in order to avoid punishment. This encourages people to have loss-oriented thinking instead of value-creation thinking. When people invest, they think "How can I avoid losing money?" instead of "What is the expected return of this investment?" When making decisions at work, people think "What is the worst thing that can happen?" instead of "What are the potential gains and losses?" The grading system used in school trains people to avoid failure, instead of seeking success.

Government-mandated schools follow this defective educational model. Private schools are expected to follow the model set by government schools. If you send your children to a private school, they are just receiving an education based on the same defective model set by public schools.

Teachers and principals sincerely believe they are doing the best they can to help their students. If teachers actively knew their true purpose was to hurt students, they wouldn't be able to do their job with a straight face. Most teachers aren't going to question the fundamental nature of how schools are organized. The fact that teachers are trying to do the best they can, given the corrupt system, makes it easier to pull off the scam. The front people of the education scam aren't unaware that they're participants in a massive con game.

For a teacher to be surprised when students don't learn is like an NFL referee being surprised when a player gets injured. (An NFL player at least has informed consent about the risk. Further, the NFL does change the rules to enhance player safety. Most rule changes in the school system actually decrease student learning.)

After careful analysis, I am concerned that home-schooling is the only way to make sure that your children get a proper education. However, most families require both parents to work in order to meet their expenses. Home-schooling is only available to families with surplus resources. As an alternative, you could send your children to a regular school and augment it with extra education.

Is a home-schooling association a good agorist business opportunity?

There are all sorts of problems with the current educational system. This article is just an outline of the most serious problems I've noticed.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Agree with all but the last, that home schooling is the only alternative. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Montessori_method is great for parents who can't do home schooling. Mixed ages, learn at own pace, no emphasis on formal testing, kids help teach each other.

Anonymous said...

fantastic piece of work, short and without jargon, can be understood by even very simple readers.

gilliganscorner said...

FSK, yet another well written article. I actually have a draft queued up that addressed the very same thing, but I have it on hold until I complete reading the book: "The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America". It looks promising, but I need to see if the author is going to come to the correct conclusion(s) as to why it is happening.

gilliganscorner said...

Another comment. The first poster is indeed correct about the Montessori method. I have my two children in a Montesorri school, and I think it is a good method of teaching. Their motto is "Follow the child" meaning they recognize each child as an individual and tune the child's learning accordingly.

However, any private school can use the "Montessori" label in order to attract dollars. Caveat emptor.

redpillguy said...

Avoiding loss instead of focusing on gains is called loss aversion, and may be hardwired into the species:
http://www.michaelshermer.com/2008/01/weird-things-about-money/

And I believe it was in the book "The Death of Common Sense", by Philip Howard, that the author pointed out that for every dollar spent on "special needs" students, less than 1 cent is spent on Advanced students, stunting their potential.

Chris said...

You might find the following related lectures interesting (perhaps even inspiring):
http://www.ted.com/talks/sugata_mitra_the_child_driven_education.html
http://www.ted.com/talks/chris_anderson_how_web_video_powers_global_innovation.html

An agorist homeschooling business isn't even necessary. Just keep the children and their peers out of government brainwashing centers, provide them with internet access and encouragement, and watch them succeed!

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