Despite holding our children captive over a period of 6.5 hours a day, 180 days a year for 13 straight years, our schools fail to deliver anything resembling a quality education. Most children graduate high school, if they even stay in school, unable to think for themselves, ill-equipped to lead self-directed lives, and unprepared to enter into a university system which, with rare exception, doesn’t demand very much of them.
The reasons for these failures are plentiful. When we throw the government into the mix, the reasons multiply. It would require a book to count the ways so I will focus on only one today: classroom management.
As with all organizations, it becomes increasingly difficult to manage larger and larger groups of people. In terms of span of control, the optimal number of subordinates under one’s charge is three to seven. It is unlikely that your child will ever sit in a classroom of only three to seven students. When teachers are forced to manage 20-30 children, they are forced to focus on command and control out of necessity. Command and control becomes a priority over education.
In order to best control children, schools advance them by age group, instead of by individual ability or proficiency. They force children to focus on subjects as determined by school administrators or government bureaucrats, in uniform blocks of time, completely ignoring the learning needs or desires of the children. There is not a student in America who is maximizing their potential when they are forced to sit through a 45-minute class on Trigonometry, then given five minutes to change classrooms, and then forced to sit through a 45-minute class on American History. Additionally, it is virtually impossible to supervise 20 students exploring the world around them in ways which are best suited to the unique learning styles of each individual child; so the schools lock our children up inside all day, practically tying them to a desk. Schools simply cannot afford to risk giving children the freedom to take their education outside of school walls, nor would they trust the children even if liability were not a concern.
While many public schools fail to effectively manage their students while they are in school, they all fail to deliver a proper education to their students in their attempts to manage their students. Classroom management is inherently incompatible with proper education. This is why I do not promote private schools as a solution to the failing public schools. Sure, private schools are often better than public schools, but better is a relative term. A solution to failing public schools is homeschooling.
Families that homeschool need not worry about many of the command and control issues that plague teachers, freeing up time and energy for real education. First, parents typically have a much easier time reining in their children when needed, particularly if their children have never attended public schools, negating much of the need to develop constrictive rules and procedures which are intended to emasculate or subdue. Second, there is no need to force children to learn Trigonometry between 9:00 and 9:45 and then American History between 9:50 and 10:35. Instead, children can pursue their passions, and spend days or even weeks at a time mastering a particular topic, and pushing off learning that they are not ready for or interested in at any given moment in time. Further, if a child learns best in the evenings or at night, there is no need to force them to go through the motions when they are less mentally engaged. Third, with fewer children to manage, parents have the flexibility to allow children to develop their unique learning styles and adapt those learning styles to the world around them. For example, a child with a high degree of naturalistic intelligence might best be served by spending a lot of time in parks or the forest, while someone with a high degree of interpersonal intelligence might best be served by spending a lot of time in town interacting with others.
The steps taken to manage classrooms in traditional schools run counter to their efforts to educate children. Parents, however, who expend much less energy on command and control are able to provide their children with much more freedom though homeschooling (or unschooling). While classroom management is incompatible with proper education, freedom is essential to proper education.