I have many criticisms of school. Too many to explain to curious people asking the inevitable question about why we chose this path without overwhelming them.
Mainly it comes down to this, school would be an unnecessary addition to our lives. Possibly detrimental, I don’t know, I’m not going to try and find out, but definitely unnecessary. At this point, I cannot think of a single positive thing that school could add to our lives.
I’m aware that my view is not common. I recently read a comment on a homeschooling article that said ‘why would you deny your children the opportunity to go to an actual school?’
Absurd to my unschooling mind, obviously. But a common thought. That by not sending our children to school they are missing out on something. Something they need. Something beneficial. Something vital even.
Yet, no one has ever told me specifically what these things are. Oh, they throw around vague ideas like ‘socialisation‘, independence, or the names of subject areas. But they fail to have any idea of what specifically school has to offer that would add to our lives. Instead, there’s just this vague notion of ‘education‘ that we’ve been told can only come from one place. Who really cares what ‘education‘ means or contains, that’s the job of people who know better than us right? People whose job it is to educate ‘students’. They’ve got that covered.
Imagine for a moment that you’d never been educated to believe that other people know more than you about how to educate your children. Imagine a life where school did not exist. Where nothing changed when a child turned five. They kept learning as they always had, through life, supported by their parents and community. Where there was no outside influence telling you what you ‘should’ be doing. What would that look like?
It would look like life. Normal life, where children were involved, not locked away in a building getting ‘educated’. Children would play and work alongside their parents, maybe with siblings or in mixed age groups. Parents would have ample time with their children to really know them, what interested them, what inspired them. They would know exactly where they are at in their ‘education’. They would pass on any knowledge they thought was important for their children to know. And they would know what the important things were because they would be confident that they were the experts on their own children.
Children would be prepared for life as an adult by observing and being involved in the lives of adults in their community. They would learn the skills needed for home life. They would learn to read and write by being surrounded by people who have these skills. They would learn maths from everyday tasks like cooking and shopping. They would have the freedom and time to pursue any interest in great depth. They would learn in whichever way suited them best. They would learn all ‘subjects’ in meaningfuland relevant ways. They would all end up with a different ‘education’ customized to their particular lives and interests.
They would be passionate, inspired, self-motivated learners because that is all they had ever known. They would be free.
Now tell me, if this is the life we are living, and many people (including us) are, what are we missing? Every day our children wake up passionate and inspired. We play outside, meet friends, explore new places, and are constantly learning. They have acquired all the knowledge they need at this point and will continue to do so in the future. What need is there for the interruption of schooling? What specifically do you think school can provide in a superior way to life?
Is it the weight of others expectations?
Is it judgement/standardization/grading?
Is it forced memorization of math equations? Which ones? Why do we need them right now?
Is it exclusively socializing with same aged peers?
Is it punishment and control?
Is it forced learning to prepare us for when we are forced to do imagined things in a hypothetical future?
Please, if you are so adamant that there is something that only school can provide, tell me exactly what it is? Because I don’t see it. There is no substitute for life.
Or are you just afraid? Are you clinging to the idea that ‘they’ know better? That there is some magical secret to education and only schools hold the key? That you might ‘fail’ in the eyes of other people? Have they taught you so well that you are inferior, that you now believe it?
Maybe it’s time to take back your power.
In our life, schooling is completely unnecessary. There is nothing missing that could be gained by adding school to our lives, and it is not a mandatory requirement for childhood. Nothing changes when a child turns five except the expectations of others. Joyful, passionate, inspired children are more important to me than those expectations. Here, we know that ‘education’ is something that each person gets to decide for themselves. Our days continue as they always have, and life is not separated from learning. Our children will be perfectly prepared for life, by always being a part of life, not separated from it.
Education doesn’t have to look how they taught us it had to look. Education can be so much more.