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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Schools: What if we are at a false peak?

Schools, despite their differences, are governed by similar rules. For example, the system of school:

  • Is framed by parents dropping off children who are organized into groups of students, and
  • Heavily uses lectures, text books, papers, and tests.

There is a general feeling that we, as a nation and perhaps as a planet, need to do better at education. It is currently not delivering the results we want, and the cost is astronomical.

Finally, we currently have a lot of people, very smart and altruistic, working really hard to improve the system. But there is also a feeling of futility. Arguably people have been trying to improve schools for the last 50 years or more, and arguably those people have suffered epic failure.

Given that, one has to wonder, what if the system of schools is in a false peak? What if trying to improve a few metrics like school hours or teacher training by 5% isn't going to do anything meaningful?

What if, in order for schools to become significantly higher performing, we have to significantly back away from what we currently do? This becomes a challenge to our imagination.

If true, the first step of improving the system of school is that of deconstruction. We have to make explicit the current assumptions in order to reexamine them and make sure they are still valid.

That's where I hope Unschooling Rules can be relevant to people who never, ever, ever intend to home school. If you believe that education can be much better than it is today, but that we may very well be on a false peak, then it may be worth listening to the observations of home- and unschoolers about schools and education.

We may find that some of the significant assumptions of today's school are worth re-examining. As many tired hikers have realized, sometimes to go up first means going down.


  1. Exactly...although, perhaps a better question is, are schools even necessary at all? Is there any necessity for forced learning...because any time you have a 'school', there will be some level of force...

  2. Some "force" is probably necessary as a parent, even if it is just preventing a child from running into the middle of the road. But yes, the problem is not that schools don't work - the problem is that most people still think they want schools to work.