Public school is supposed to teach kids how to prepare for life in the real world. But public, and many private schools teach mold children to live in an authoritarian system where they are just cogs in a machine.

Here’s a transcript of our conversation:

Brittany: Hi, Emma.

Emma: Hi, Brittany.

Brittany: So, during my time as a teacher in private school, I learned a lot about, you know, the lies we learn in public school. And I’m not just talking about the actual content, though, that’s there too, right? Especially now, like there’s so many incorrect things they’re teaching about our founding fathers and the founding of this country in general. But I mean more things like the way the world works, which, hey, that’s the name of this podcast. So I wanna talk about some of those things today. And, debunk meaning, proof, false, these, these silly things we were taught,  about the world. So the first idea, and this to me is the most egregious, the worst idea is collective punishment. So I remember as a kid there were always the two kids that wouldn’t stop talking, right? There were the two kids that wanted to be the class clown. Sometimes I was one of them, but that were just talking at inappropriate times. And the teacher was frustrated cuz she couldn’t teach, but my whole class had to stay after. So I remember we called it the Class Come to Order, and when the teacher said class comes to order, she’d count down. And how many times she counted down for us to be quiet. It’s funny, I can’t even believe I remember all this, but we had to stay after that many minutes. And it wasn’t like it was a minute. She was just counting 1, 2, 3. So this used to really rub me the wrong way because why was I being punished for something two people did? Why weren’t those two kids, you know, being punished? And we can talk about whether or not they should be punished in the first place and in another episode. But it really bothered me because that’s not the way the world should work. Now. Sometimes it does, I suppose. But yeah. But actually no. Cause even if you commit a crime, and I mean we could also talk about the overcriminalization. There’s a lot of stuff there. Yeah. But you’re held accountable for what you do. But public school teaches you, and again, this goes back to this concept we’ve talked about, about the greater good or the social contract, that if you do something wrong, that everybody needs to be punished for it. So that one has always just really rubbed me the wrong way. Yeah. I don’t like it. I think it’s really detrimental to kids, and obviously as they turn into adults. So that’s my first one. I’ll throw it to you, Emma.

Emma: Yeah. One thing that I will say about that too is I think it teaches kids to not take responsibility for their own actions. Cause it takes away basically your thinking that says, okay, is this going to get me in trouble or is it not? And when you grow up thinking, well, we’re all just gonna sort of suffer the same punishment, I think that’s almost how you end up with a situation like the lockdowns where it’s like, well, we’re all suffering the same consequences, even though we have different actions and different inputs, we’re all gonna have the same outcome and we all need to be good and we all need to wear our masks in 15 days to slow the spread. So I think we’ve all been very conditioned to do that. And the kids that had with that are probably all pretty libertarian now. So.

Brittany: They’re probably entrepreneurs. They’re probably thriving.

Emma: Exactly. So one thing that really bothered me about school, I had many run-ins with teachers just for this alone, was that there was this idea that the authority figure is always right. And, you know, if you’ve listened to any of this podcast, you know that that is not true. You know, that we disagree with that notion and we find it ridiculous. But for some reason in schools, and, you know, I went to public school, but I also for a couple of years went to private school. I found this was a thing in both, actually both forms of school. It’s really absurd that we teach kids, you know, the basics of America. Okay, here’s the founding fathers were skeptical of big government. So they started this. That is if you go to a school that still teaches that. Yeah. And we learn about the foundation of America and we learn about, you know, this idea of self-government and of individual rights. But then the same people tried to tell you, well, if you talk while the teacher’s talking, then you need to go sit in the corner or you’re gonna lose your recess or something like that. Which, you know, we do need to be respectful. And I do believe in showing,

Brittany: Of course, that’s a thing with my professors taught me, you know, there’s a way to disagree, but do it with respect and with, you know.

Emma: Exactly. Yeah. There’s a difference between decorum and showing respect versus blind, you know, allegiance to authority, which that’s not something that is good to just teach kids. It’s no matter what, you need to listen to the authority figures and you need to, you know, believe in what they say because we have seen so many examples throughout history in so many different, you know, ways people abusing their authority and using it to harm people, even to harm kids. And that’s, not a fun thing to talk about, but teachers and authority figures and principals, they’re not always right and we know that. But the fact that they try to condition kids to believe that is in my, view, very, very destructive. And it’s also not how the real world works in the real world. You know, when things are going the right way, there’s accountability for authority. Maybe there is some decorum and there is a level of respect. But authority figures are not untouchable. Infallible, meaning they can never do anything wrong. They’re actually people. And people make mistakes and people sometimes abuse their power. And it’s important to remember that. So that’s not to say we shouldn’t respect people, respect our teachers, and respect our parents. I know for a lot of you guys are probably your teachers, respect is important. But it doesn’t mean that we just need to blindly follow everything someone says just because they happen to be in a position of authority.

Brittany: Completely agree. And, so I’ll move on to my next one, which is, and this one always gets me the next lie is that you are always going to be working with people your own age. So it is, I call this, you know, age segregation. It’s funny to me because we have this idea that every five-year-old learns the same, you know, at the same pace. Every 10-year-old learns at the same pace. And so you are doing two things. You’re slowing down some kids learning, or you’re putting some kids in you know, advanced-like curriculum. They’re not ready for, you’re teaching ’em things they’re not ready for. And also you’re teaching them that you should only socialize with people who are your age. Yeah. And that’s not the real world. Right. I work with people much older than me. I work with people much younger than me. You have to learn to, work with people all ages. And I know Montessori schools, it’s a brand of, yeah. It’ brand isn’t the right way to put it, but it’s a like theory of private schools Yeah. They mix kids. And I really like that because you learn to talk with kids of all ages. And I think it helps the younger kids mature and it also helps people learn at their level. And it also, there’s like homeschool or I guess like unschooled, a lot of it teaches you the, you know, you can talk with adults. And I really like that. I’ve noticed that when I meet homeschooled kids that are used to working with adults, they are so much more mature. They can handle a conversation. They can sit and, talk like adults with you. You know, we shouldn’t be treating kids like kids if they’re capable of having good conversations. So I think that’s a really, harmful lie that we’re taught that we can only talk to seven-year-olds if we’re seven-year-olds. You know, because age really isn’t that big a deal. And we talk about working with people, we’ve got to work with all sorts of people of all different ages.

Emma: It’s true. And learning how to talk with adults is such an important skill. Oh yes. It really helps a young person stand out when they’re first starting their career or they’re first trying to get their first job. It’s knowing how to relate to people and, and carry yourself in a way that’s mature and comes off, you know, sharp and professional. That is a really big deal. And it’s also a huge advantage. So when you, you know, you treat kids like their kids no matter what, some kids should be treated like kids, but some kids are able to kind of rise above their standard and speak with adults in a way that’s very adult-like. And, you know, forcing kids to all behave the same way really ultimately holds them back. Because when you’re young, you’re capable of a lot more than most people will give you credit for. And if you’re treated with that level of dignity and respect, a lot of times kids will be able to rise up to that. So that’s one thing I really didn’t like about public school is we were all kind of forced to perform on the same level and, you know, excelling or, you know, jumping ahead in certain classes and all of that. There wasn’t really any accommodation because they just had us broken up by age. So I totally agree with that one. Another one is that schools focus so much on what to think and not on how to think. Yes. I took so many classes where they would just say, this is this and you need to just accept it this way. And there would never be any discussion about y or about their reasoning or about how they came to that conclusion or how our society came to a conclusion that X is right and y is wrong. And that was really tough for me because, I actually, so I went to private schools that there were classical schools, which focuses a lot on logic and reasoning and, philosophy. And then I went to public schools starting in seventh grade, and it was a completely different environment. So I had been sort of started learning about logic and learning about, you know, the Socratic method in asking why and really drilling into sort of the underlying premises under these statements people would make. And then when I got to public school, I had a really hard time because I would, you know, good-naturedly ask my teachers, well, why, do you say that? And what makes you, what makes you think this? Or why should we believe this? And I was actually coming from a good place. I was coming from a place of respect because I respected them enough to question what they were saying, and they did not like it. And I got in trouble a couple of times for talking back because they thought that I was just trying to undermine their authority once again. Sorry, I got my coffee pot going off over there, But, yeah, that was a huge problem. And I didn’t understand why people got so offended when I would ask why because to me, I was showing interest. I was engaging with what they were saying. But unfortunately in public schools, a lot of times it’s so much more about just following the instructions. Just take what I say as the gold standard. Don’t ask why. And that really bothered me.

Brittany: Yeah. So another thing, and I, completely agree with you on that. In fact, as a teacher, I tried to do the opposite. We talked about the Socratic method before, and that’s asking why instead of just saying, this is how it is. So another thing I wanna touch on is this idea that you don’t learn through play. And this really bothers me because, you know, when I was a teacher, kids only got about 20 minutes of recess a day, and that just broke my heart. Part of the reason I don’t teach anymore, or at least in that capacity, is that you know, people have this idea that you only learn if you’re in a desk, you know, and every hour you’ve gotta switch to a new subject or something like that. Yeah. But that’s not how people learn. We learn through interaction with each other because there are so many parts of my job where it’s not just what I do, it’s working with other people. And also you learn a lot through play. You know, if you are, you learn about cause and effect, you learn, you know, if I do this on the playground, maybe people won’t wanna play with me. If I swat a bee, I’m probably gonna get stung. There are so many things you can learn through play. A lot of times we call it play-based learning, it’s just so silly to me that we teach kids that the only way they learn is gonna be lectured to in a desk all day. So that’s another lie that always gets me.

Emma: Oh my gosh. Yeah. Me too. It’s, you can learn so much, in my opinion, so much more through interacting Yeah. With people then you can just sort of sitting at your desk. And also too, certain kids have a hard time sitting still and focusing on one, you know, particular subject for a super long period of time without talking to anyone else. I was like that in school. I loved learning and I loved taking on new concepts, but I kind of had to talk about them to get a grasp on what they were. I’m a very verbal person and a very verbal learner. And when we would have to sort of sit at our little desk and not look around and not talk to people, that was really tough for me to stay focused and get that stuff done. And there are tons and tons of people out there who learn that way, and everyone learns differently. And that’s another thing that I wanted to say is that schools do not respect different learning styles. They sort of treat everyone like they all learn the same way.

Brittany: One size fits all.

Emma: One size fits all, and one size does not fit all. And you know, I’m sure of, a lot of the kids listening can understand this. Maybe you learn really easily by reading something and by looking at it and seeing you might be a visual learner, other people might be like an auditory learner where you hear something out loud and it just sticks in your brain forever. So maybe rather than reading, you might prefer to listen to Audible. And I, think that there needs to be more of a discussion about, you know, meeting kids’ needs in that way where people are not just all treated like their brains all work the exact same way because we know that they don’t. And that’s one thing that I think private schools can do a little better sometimes because they see things a little differently. And if you’re unschooled or you’re homeschooled, your parents probably are able to cater to that because they know you, your parents know who you are, they know how your brain works a lot better than a public school administrator deciding on curriculum and teaching styles does. So that’s another one that really bothers me is, is sort of treating every kid. Like they’re the same like there are cogs in a machine. Yeah. You know, we’re all just kind of, there was that famous song, Another Brick in the Wall by Pink Floyd, which I’m not gonna necessarily endorse because he’s saying “we don’t need no education” but.

Brittany: Oh, that’s a song. I didn’t know that was what it was called. But yeah, the We don’t need no.

Emma: Yes. Yep, that’s an old, old song. But, I, like it because it talks about being one brick in this giant wall and every brick is the same and everyone has to act the same way. And it’s a song about having a tough time in school and looking back, you can totally understand why because the guy that wrote it was very creative. He was this amazing musician and went on to have a really successful career. And a lot of times very creative people struggle to sit down in class and focus the way that the school wants them to, especially in the public school system. So if that’s, you don’t get discouraged. You know, there are ways that you can, that you can learn to learn and you just have to figure out what works for you. And hopefully, you’re in a situation where there’s some openness to that,  whether it’s a charter school or you’re homeschooled or unschooled and you can sort of figure out what works and do it that way. But even if you’re in private or if you’re in public school, I’ve been there. I understand and it’s not easy, but let me tell you, the real world when you get out there is a lot more open to those sorts of ideas than public school is. So that’s gonna be my little encouragement as we wrap it up here. Brittany, thank you for chatting and we will talk to you guys all again soon.

Brittany: Talk to you soon.