Education is vitally important to our future. Schooling is the government’s answer. John Taylor Gatto, acclaimed teacher and author said, ‘When you take the free will out of education, that turns it into schooling.’
Despite spending huge amounts on schools, many countries like the USA and the UK have failing systems, which are outdated and not fit for purpose. Spending in the USA is among the highest, per capita, in the world, yet school results are often below average in the world league tables.
The state run, factory style system of schooling, used in most countries, needs to be replaced, in favor of education, which has the free will put back in place.
The school system was historically introduced to produce the factory workers needed by the Industrial Revolution. These workers who would obey orders and be controlled by bells. At worst, schools became not much more than a state funded child care system.
Home education has grown dramatically in recent years, throughout the developed world, in response to the failure of the school system to provide parents with the choices they want, especially for those children with special needs.
The choice of how to educate a child, is a fundamental aspect of parental liberty, yet the government response to this growing tide of home educators, has often been increased regulation and intervention.
Some countries or states legislate for compulsory schooling, forbid private or charter schools, enforce attendance at a particular school, and other such controlling measures.
In a state-run education system, it is compulsory to attend, usually within local catchment areas. Various syllabuses are laid down by Departments of Education, as are the rules of behavior.
This sounds very similar to incarceration, with the lack of individuality and choice harkening back to the Victorian Age. The highly indoctrinated system that exists now, is influenced by state doctrines which stifles individuality, and indeed free speech.
A properly educated populace is better informed and more likely to be open to different dialogues and viewpoints.
Lack of choice is self-evident in the state monopoly of education from pre-school right through to college. Such a huge power imbalance takes away responsibility from the individual, their families, and their communities.
Expense is usually given as the excuse for a lack of any overall improvement each year.
However, education is a service, with the teachers and institutions being service providers, and the pupils, the service users.
In short, the system is and should be regarded as a business within the free market. If it were totally free from government control, regulations and finance, it would promote true competition.
In such a market, accountability would mean just that – improve or lose your pupils. Choice would return to education. Parents could choose the type of education they want for their children, and the location where their children would receive their education, (including at home if desired).
Likewise, schools could refuse those individuals deemed to be too violent or disruptive. Privatization would mean professionalism is taken to a completely different level, resulting with attempts to find the best models of practice that can be used in specific areas and for special needs.
Education is funded by taxation, whether or not the taxpayer has children of school age. This funding, despite its increase, has not improved the quality of education globally, and those countries who spend the most, do not necessarily produce the best results.
A new approach to funding is needed to avoid government control and interference. Schools, colleges, and universities should compete to offer the best value for money.
Choice is the most vital reform needed within the school system. Parents must be given the right to choose.
Firstly, they should be allowed to choose whether or not they wish to educate their children at home. Then, if not, choose which type of school their child should attend.
Charter schools and private schools should be embraced. The location of school must not be a matter under government legislation. Individual schools must develop programs to meet the needs of individual children, offering a variety of classroom learning, alongside apprenticeships and work experience.
Education naturally starts at home. Where it proceeds from should be a matter of choice, and not dictated by geography, or limited availability as espoused by the government.
Some form of government involvement is always likely to be necessary, especially in the domain of special needs education, where otherwise parents would find themselves under the burden of cost that would be difficult to bear.
Evaluation, grading, punishment, and reward systems all need to be looked at carefully, to provide the best results that cause the least harm. Freedom of parental choice should validate the best systems naturally, through time.
The child should be at the center of the process, their values and respect nurtured, not by some governmental department, but by themselves, their family, and friends.
Although this sounds difficult to achieve, we should strive for improvement. American education critic John Taylor Gatto once said, ‘I feel ashamed that so many of us cannot imagine a better way to do things than locking children up all day in cells instead of letting them grow up knowing their families, mingling in the world, assuming real obligations, striving to be independent and self-reliant and free.’
Why a different approach to education is important to SFL
At Students For Liberty, we believe that education systems around the world could all function more effectively if it were not for the current levels of excessive government interference. Worldwide, the standard of education could be significantly improved by removing government barriers to school choice and innovation.