I’m not a big fan of public education.
It’s not that I’m not a fan of education itself. I just think the government is, generally, the worst entity imaginable to deliver a quality product. That was before everything got ridiculously stupid.
Yet I have a bit of a reputation for having negative feelings toward public education, even though both of my kids have attended public school.
The fact that my daughter is now homeschooled should tell you something.
Anyway, as bad as the schools here are, they could be worse. After all, a psychologist at Boston College has some harsher words about public education than even I do.
More families may be flocking to homeschooling and other schooling alternatives over the past two years, but Peter Gray has been urging families to flee coercive schooling since long before the pandemic began. The Boston College psychology professor wrote in his 2013 book Free To Learn: “The more oppressive the school system becomes, the more it is driving people away, and that is good.”
In our conversation, Gray explains that standard schooling today is a key factor in the continuous rise in rates of childhood and adolescent anxiety, depression, and suicide. Its imposed, one-size-fits all curriculum, reliance on reward and punishment as external motivators, and dismissal of natural childhood curiosity and creativity erode learners’ powerful drives for learning and discovery. Stripped of these drives, and increasingly deprived of opportunities to play, explore, and pursue individual interests outside of school without the constant hovering of adults, children and adolescents become more melancholic and morose.
“We adults are constraining children’s lives, in school and out of school,” says Gray in our podcast discussion. “School has become a toxic place for children, and we refuse to say that publicly. The research can show it but it almost never gets picked up in the popular press,” he adds.
And, of course, I’m not the popular press, so I have no problem blasting the word from the highest mountains because screw the teachers unions, the education lobby in general, and every leftist who thinks that education can only be the purview of the state.
I mean, look at the letters sent home by Civil War soldiers. They had an amazing grasp of prose and an impressive vocabulary, but most were taught at home by their parents. There wasn’t any public education.
Of course, not everyone was so well educated. Those letters we have are great, but what about those who didn’t know how to read or write? Those certainly existed. Then again, it wasn’t as low as many people like to believe.
Regardless, the truth is that people were educated well before public education.
So why is it so important now? Because, while Gray called schools “toxic,” the education lobby and teachers unions actually want it that way. It’s toxic because they want to indoctrinate your kids. They want to turn your children against you in hopes that they can shape the future their way.
Say what you want about progressives, but they can play the long game.
Gray’s comments are completely accurate, though. There’s no argument about that, nor should there be.
Unless, of course, you’re one of those progressives who think that schools should advance the narrative no matter what.
After all, they can’t handle the idea that there might actually be debate over things they accept as unmitigated truth. Then again, they wouldn’t know the truth if it jumped on their face and wiggled, so what can you do?
It isn't entirely accurate that there wasn't public education before the current shit show was created. Teachers and schools were absolutely part of a community. They were generally hired by what amounted to the city council. Thus the old stories about teachers being required to be unmarried, etc. The truth was that it was generally respectable work that was not expected to support a family and was generally a trade of unmarried women. The key point is that schools were expected to instill a general education in the basics, and that they were directly accountable to parents by way of the parents being able to directly impact the local government and have the teacher fired for basically anything. That included impropriety, public drunkenness, incompetence, and a huge number of other highly localized requirements of the specific posting.