Why No One Should Be in School Past 3rd Grade
How They Used to Tackle Education
The year is 1418. Phillip shows an interest in blacksmithing. At age 9 he obtains an apprenticeship with a master blacksmith. He learns by observing and taking part in the work. He masters the craft, opens his own shop and finds fulfillment in his work, eventually taking on apprentices of his own.
How We Tackle Education Now
The year is 2018. Dylan, at age 9, shows an interest in firefighting. He talks to his mom about it. She smiles and pats his head. He plays video games. Later that year he learns about space in school and decides he wants to be an astronaut. But upon discovering how selective the space program is and how minuscule his chances are, he abandons his newfound dream and consoles himself with video games. A few years later he becomes so stressed out over standardized testing that he comes home and is interested by nothing, which his mother thinks is at least an improvement over video games. In high-school he aspires to be a pro-football star and a news anchor with a hot-dog stand on the side. He prepares for these endeavors by playing video games. He graduates.
He goes to college and changes his major 4 times before finally ending up with international business management. After graduating from college armed with a shiny new college degree, he pursues many lofty job opportunities but is rejected from all of them on the grounds that he “lacks sufficient experience.” He feels that he is above other menial jobs, so he moves into his parent’s basement and plays video games.
After a year of wallowing in self pity and debt, he concludes that the answer must be more school, so he gets an MBA. Now with a more impressive degree, he sets out to find his dream job. He doesn’t. Mainly because he never really figured out what his dream job was, and instead filled his life with more aimless education and video games while he procrastinated real life decisions, etc. etc.
Breaking the Over-Schooling Cycle
I’m not saying that we should limit our educational opportunities. Surely the aspirations of a 9 year old will change as he grows up. And while job choices were limited in the Middle Ages, it didn’t stop people from contributing to society and feeling fulfilled with their work. In modern times we spend so much time thinking and theorizing about work that by the time it’s time to actually do the work, it feels unnatural and uncomfortable to us. Far from shaping a viable future, more schooling has only served to endlessly distract us from fulfilling any kind of purpose.
We have the unique advantage today to have accessibility to a vast amount of knowledge. The Internet and the resources found therein have far exceeded most things that we can learn in a classroom. We can educate ourselves in almost any subject. Compulsory schooling has become nothing more than a glorified prison to occupy children during the day and has turned capable teachers into glorified babysitters. Keeping children in school (and college) only serves to prolong their childhood as they procrastinate responsibility.
It would be far better to only go to school for a few years to learn the foundational principles of reading, writing and arithmetic, and then to get out into the world and apply ourselves. Get a good groundwork of knowledge and then educate ourselves by finding information on the Internet, in the library, in the community, or by working. And while it may not be favorable to have elementary school-aged children in the workforce because of those pesky child labor laws, there are an immense amount of opportunities available to them through volunteering or working for their parents. It would be so useful to institute an apprenticeship program so that students can get hands on experience in the real world. As for high-school or college aged students, there are so many opportunities that are far more educational than sitting in a classroom or lecture. Many of us have been conditioned to believe that the more school we go through means better chances for success. (In the board game LIFE, those who choose to go to college always fare better than those who don't.) While this holds true in many instances, we need to remember that more school does not necessarily mean more education.
For more resources related to this subject, read:
- Weapons of Mass Instruction and Dumbing Us Down by John Taylor Gatto
- Better Than College by Blake Boles
- How Children Learn by John Holt