Have you ever stopped to think about why public education exists in the way that it does? If you’re like most people, you probably just assume that it’s always been this way and that it’s the best system for preparing young people for the real world. But what if I told you that public education as we know it was actually designed with a very specific purpose in mind – one that has nothing to do with helping kids succeed in life?
According to John Taylor Gatto, a former New York State Teacher of the Year and a vocal critic of the public education system, public education was actually created to turn kids into factory workers. In the 19th century, as the Industrial Revolution was in full swing, factory owners realized that they needed a reliable workforce of obedient, well-behaved employees. They also realized that they could save money by not having to provide on-the-job training – they could just send the kids to school to learn the skills they needed.
And so, public education was born. But it wasn’t designed to be a place where kids could learn and grow and explore their interests. It was designed to be a place where kids could be molded into the kind of workers that the factories needed.
One of the key features of public education is its emphasis on standardization. From the curriculum to the way that classes are structured, everything is designed to be the same for every student, no matter where they are or what their interests or goals might be. This might seem like a good thing at first glance – after all, shouldn’t everyone get the same education? But in reality, this standardization is actually a way to make sure that all kids are learning the same things in the same way, so that they can be plugged into the “system” without any hiccups.
Public ed also puts a ton of focus on obedience. From the very beginning, kids are taught to follow rules and do what they’re told. They’re not encouraged to think for themselves or to question authority. In fact, if they do try to do these things, they’re often punished. This might seem like a good way to keep kids in line, but it’s actually just preparing them to be good little workers who don’t question the status quo.
So, why does this matter? Well, for one thing, it means that public education is not necessarily the best system for helping kids succeed in life. In fact, it might actually be holding them back. If kids are taught to be obedient and to follow the rules, they might not have the skills or the independence to succeed in a world that is constantly changing and that rewards creativity and innovation.
But there’s another reason why this matters – it’s because it shows that public education is not neutral. It’s not just a place where kids go to learn. It’s a place that was created for a specific purpose, and that purpose might not be in the best interests of the kids who are going there.
So, what can we do about it? Well, for one thing, we can start by acknowledging that public education has a history and that it was created for a specific purpose. This doesn’t mean that we should throw the whole system out, but it does mean that we should be aware of its limitations and its biases. We can also start looking for alternative ways of educating our kids. Homeschooling and charter schools are two options that have been gaining in popularity in recent years, and they offer a way for kids to learn in a way that is more tailored to their individual needs and interests.
Ultimately, it’s important to recognize that education is not a one-size-fits-all solution. What works for one kid might not work for another, and that’s okay. It’s important to find the right approach for each individual child, whether that means traditional public education, homeschooling, alternative schools, or something else entirely. The key is to keep an open mind and be willing to explore different options until you find the one that works best for your child. It might take some trial and error, but the effort is worth it in the end – because when kids are truly engaged in learning, they are more likely to thrive and succeed in life. So, it is important to find the right approach that fits the needs and interests of each individual child.
The Tuttle Twins and the Education Vacation, is a fun and informative book that explores the idea of education as a journey of discovery rather than a process of conformity. In it, Ethan and Emily (and their mom and dad) meet John Taylor Gatto who teaches them to think about school in a different way then they have before. With the help of their trusted teacher, Mrs. Miner, the Tuttle family decides that they’re ready to take learning into their own hands as they leave public ed and become a homeschool family. If you’re new to homeschool, considering it, or in its early stages, Education Vacation is a great book to help your kids navigate the change from public to alternative education and realize they are far from alone in their new, unique, style of learning!