Why 5 years of age?
Why 5 days a week?
Why 6 hours a day?
Why is it that when kids turn five in our society they are typically expected to spend hours a day 5 days a week in a government institution? Why do they not get a choice in how they spend such a significant portion of their childhood? Why is there so little involvement from the very people affected the most by these choices? Why is it not questioned or challenged?
Why by age?
Why all the same subjects for every young child?
Why is their learning often so separated from life? Why is their learning so two dimensional? Why are the subject areas so separate? Why is so much of their learning about regurgitating information?
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When I ponder these questions the main conclusions that stand out to me is that school as it is, is for the convenience of adults and the benefit of the factory like system of the workforce. And I for one don’t want that to determine my child’s childhood years.
5 years is about the youngest you can get a child to sit still and force to listen to information. Having weekdays taken up sure is convenient for adults and six hours is almost a work day.
Starting young guarantees children who are used to these expectations and being given the information they ‘need’. Without years of indoctrination it would seem bizarre, for example, to encroach on bodily autonomy and expect someone to ask to use the toilet or wait to eat when hungry.
Worksheets make information easy to distribute to large groups of children. Homework is an easy way to bring that controlled learning into the home.
It sure is helpful for the workforce (and the elite who benefit from it) to have young impressionable minds molded by a system that treats them like one and the same. The workforce, media and consumerism in general works best with people who are used to having decisions made for them.
It would be a damn lot harder to convince an adult that they should spend their lifetime working 40 hour weeks if not for a childhood spent non-consensually learning arbitrary information. Our consumer-based society works much easier if we don’t challenge the norm.
Separating subjects and making education feel like something that must be done to people in a way that is separate to life creates a self-satisfying system. A system that creates people dependent on a system to give knowledge and provide answers and a system that depends on people accepting that.
It only took one generation for it to become an expectation and for normalcy to fall to this model.
Schooling is, in and of itself, a method of control that lasts well beyond childhood. It paves the way for a life that most of us feel deep down is unsatisfying. It’s not unexpected then to hear how people think that school is needed to ‘prepare children for the real world’.
But it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.
If children were given the freedom and time they deserve to form their own unique education – they would naturally follow their passions and their adult lives would be satisfying.
We cannot imagine a life without this control so the cognitive dissonance that arises when someone challenges this model is real and massive. But this isn’t the way it always has been or needs to be. Even if only for my family and yours.
There are thousands of people out there successfully joining our economic society without school. We don’t have to follow this model to live in this world. Times are changing SO FAST – schools are not changing anywhere near quickly enough.
We collectively were born into this society at this stage in human history where this is the standard. We didn’t get a choice in that. But we can alter the influence this model has on our children.
So if you haven’t already, I encourage you to question – why school?
- Free to Learn by Peter Gray (I read this one after making the decision to unschool and spent the entire book enthusiastically nodding along!)
- Learning All The Time by John Holt (and indeed ALL of John Holt’s works)
- Home Grown by Ben Hewitt.
Thank you for reading!