Modern Education Failed Us

A blog for stories, research, and activism for educational choices. One-size-fits-all mass education is harmful for many children. There are many educational models - homeschooling, secular private schools, one-room schoolhouse, charter schools, virtual schools, specialty schools, religious schools, and many more. All deserve respect and equal protection under the law. The government should not discriminate nor dominate! Centralized monopolistic public education should be a thing of the past.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Learning in Freedom

Take some time today and go through the Learning in Freedom website. It has 40 plus webpages on a variety of educational freedom topics. Look at the socialization webpage, the reading webpage, and the great quotations from notable persons webpage. It has a page with critiques of the school system, resource lists, links to articles, and much more.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Full-Service Education

"Last year, when Maryland Congressman Steny Hoyer introduced landmark legislation to provide funding for full-service community schools, he became part of a nationwide movement aimed at making children’s school days longer, more numerous, and filled with services once provided solely through other industries. In making his case, Hoyer said, “Full-service community schools are valuable resources in local communities because they provide for the seamless integration of academic, developmental, family, and health services to children and their families. These schools, in addition to strengthening local communities, ensure the best use of resources, which will result in more cost-efficient services."

Read the full article at http://www.gse.harvard.edu/news/2005/0801_fullservice.html
Even Harvard recognizes the need for new models in education. In this article, Geoffrey Canada, Harvard Ed.M.’75, president of the Harlem Children’s Zone (HCZ), says "It’s time for educators to face the fact that the old model doesn’t work for everybody.When they had this old model they weren’t preparing all students for college—a very small percentage of students were being prepared for college, and everybody else was being prepared for the factories!"

This is yet another example of another model for education - this one actually run by the government. It clearly makes the case that true diversity is needed in education. None of these models should be mandatory or monopolistic, but they should be options for those who wish to choose them.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Community Based Education

Today I'd like to point out "Place Value: An Educator's Guide to Good Literature on Rural Lifeways, Environments, and Purposes of Education" by Toni Haas and Paul Nachtigal. It can be found online at the ERIC clearinghouse or the Department of Education website. It was published in 1998 and sponsored by The National Library of Education within the Department of Education.

From the abstract: "This book suggests that quality of life depends on the connections that people have with one another and their surroundings, rather than on material wealth. It challenges teachers to reexamine the purposes of education and to equip students with the tools they need to make conscious choices about living well in their own communities."

A few choice quotes:

"All education is environmental education. By what is included or excluded, students are taught that they are part of or apart from the natural world."

"Awareness of local things disappears in the crush of standardized curricula, generic textbooks, and centralized test design."

"We know, at a very deep level, that 'landscape shapes mindscape.' ... Yet most of us are bone ignorant of the places we claim so proudly, and the fault lies with an education that has been systematically stripped of its content. The results are as barren as the landscapes they echo."

"When schools are disconnected from specific places and life in communities, they cease to be public institutions, serving the public good. Alternatively, by developing a healthy respect for the physical and social communities they inhabit, schools can teach children to be contributing citizens, no matter where the students end up living their lives, earning their livings, and practicing democracy."
(Ed.'s Note: Makes you wonder what purpose they are serving? And if they are not teaching respect and democracy, what are they teaching?)

"...telling a community's story is key to the survival of self-government."

"The school itself can be a living laboratory of democratic principles by providing rehearsals in civic practice. Teachers should send students out to see for themselves how democracy works."

"Supporting public education has come to mean little more than paying taxes. Even education professionals confuse public support with getting larger budgets. We need public schools to be public institutions, the centers of a reinvigorated public life."

"What underlies the crisis of American education is the crisis of modern man's identity and his cosmological disconnection with the natural world."

"Skillful teachers find ways to give children reasons to communicate to real audiences."

"...principals need to open the schools psychologically as well, removing barriers and roadblocks to education. This demands changing restrictive schedules, state regulations, and traditional thinking of the faculty, staff, and community."


This book highlights several community-based school models in practice from Pennsylvania to Alabama, from California to North Dakota. It shows a legitimate alternative model to the centralized monopolistic education currently imposed on us. It's time to end the monopoly and return education to the community and the family.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Diversity in Education?

The modern educational model as implemented by the public school system in America values diversity. This usually means racial and ethnic diversity, though after 9/11 they have added religious diversity to the mix of "different points of view" to be taught, with the unspoken message being "all points of view are legitimate and worthy of respect."

Except they forgot one. Modern education does not respect diversity of educational models. Homeschoolers represent an incredible spectrum of diverse educational models and ideas. Almost all of these models have legitimate research and professional support. Here are just a few:

Charlotte Mason
http://www.charlottemason.com/
http://www.infed.org/thinkers/et-mason.htm

Classical Education
http://www.gbt.org/text/sayers.html
http://www.welltrainedmind.com/classed.html

Unschooling
http://www.unschooling.com/library/index.shtml
http://www.midnightbeach.com/hs/UnschoolingUndefined.html

Waldorf
http://www.waldorfanswers.org/

Montessori
http://www.montessoriconnections.com

Distance Learning
http://www.usdla.org/

Resource Centers and Cottage Schools
http://cottageschool.net/articles/
http://www.educationrevolution.org/homrescen1.html

Umbrella schools
http://www.homeschoolingteens.com/UmbrellaSchools.html
http://www.vahomeschoolers.org/Umbrella.PDF

Tutors & Mentors
http://www.creatinglearningcommunities.org

Unit Studies
http://www.homeeducator.com/HSN/success.htm

Eclectic
http://members.aol.com/_ht_a/clayvessel/

Disability-specific
http://www.dyslexia-add.org/
http://www.cec.sped.org/
http://www.autismteachingtools.com/page/bbbbfg/bbbbbt

Homeschool Cooperatives
http://www.homeschoolzone.com/hsz/ransom2.htm
http://www.hcecf.net/
http://www.heritagehsc.org/

True diversity is a problem for a bureaucracy. A bureaucracy works best when it has one job, one objective, one means to achieve that goal. By its very nature, a bureaucracy cannot tolerate diversity in its ranks. Diversity of skin color and religion are wonderful goals and can easily be integrated into the bureaucracy because neither affect its fundamental functioning. But diversity of educational theory gums up the works and slows the machine. It throws the proverbial monkey wrench in the works.

True democratic diversity in education is anathema to a national management strategy of education. Which is precisely the point of those making policy. They are not democratic in their goals; diversity is decidedly not their goal. They are social engineers who use education as a vehicle.

It is time to return democractic diversity to education. It is time to end government-monopolized education and show legislative respect for the diversity that homeschooling and the various alternative school models offer.

Monday, November 21, 2005

A Hobbesian Choice?

Thomas Hobbes was a 17th century English philosopher and political theorist writing about the balance between a secure civil society and democracy. He argued that the only way to have a secure civil society and avoid chaos is through universal submission to the absolute authority of a sovereign. The term 'Hobbesian Choice' is often used in modern parlance to indicate a choice between two extremes, usually equally unacceptable.

Public school vs. Homeschool. A Hobbesian Choice?

Hobbes had a very deterministic view of human nature. He felt that human beings were driven by "a restless desire of power after power." He felt that if man was not subjected to a dominant authority, the world would be in a constant state of "every man against every man." This, according to Hobbes, put every person in "continual fear and danger of violent death" and makes every person's life "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short." The answer, according to Hobbes, was an authoritarian social contract in which the state imposed peace and order. Hobbes felt that individual obedience and surrender of rights was necessary to avoid the greater evil of a chaotic, warring society.

Public school vs. Homeschool. A Hobbesian Choice?

Hobbes felt it was the duty of the Soveriegn to educate the population to their duty. This call for education has many in the modern education community cheering Hobbes. More and more educational theorists in academia are pointing to Hobbes' writings to show the need for education in maintaining social order and political stability. Ph.D. dissertations ask for a "kinder, gentler" interpretation of Hobbes' views, pointing out that Hobbes also advocates "that a prudent sovereign will choose good counselors, rule justly, see to it that citizens are contented and materially well off, and educate them in their duties." But one Australian professor recognizes a paradox in Hobbes' views:

On obedience to the Sovereign and education Hobbes appears to generate a paradox. On the one hand he argues for absolute power, absolute obedience, censorship, and the suppression of opposed beliefs and teachers thereof, and on the other hand he states explicitly that it is the duty of the Sovereign to educate the people on political matters. Education, it might be thought, might be incompatible with absolute obedience, censorship and the suppression of opposed beliefs and persons holding or teaching such beliefs. If education could lead to such beliefs then instead of obeying the sovereign subjects might revolt. Hence education could lead to a state of war. Yet peace is the over-riding concern of Hobbes' political theory. There is something of a paradox then as what is said about the duty of the citizen, namely obligation, seems to be inconsistent with the duty of the Sovereign, namely education; if the Sovereign desires peace then one cannot educate, whereas if one desires education then one cannot ensure peace.

Public school vs. Homeschool. A Hobbesian Choice?

A paper from The University of Manchester points out that Hobbes felt that the parental right to "institute their children as they see fit" (i.e. educate) was not absolute but "in some places more, in some places less, according as they that have the sovereignty shall think most convenient." Fields v. Palmdale, a recent 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals decision, said "We also hold that parents have no due process or privacy right to override the determinations of public schools as to the information to which their children will be exposed while enrolled as students."

Public school vs. Homeschool. A Hobbesian Choice?

No. The choice to send your kids to public school or to homeschool them is not a Hobbesian Choice for you to make. The Hobbesian Choice has already been made - by the modern educational establishment. They have concluded that Hobbes was right and are consciously or subconsciously following his dictates.

No, homeschooling is not a Hobbesian Choice. But it might be a Hobson's Choice. Hobson was an innkeeper in 17th-century Cambridge, England, who gained lasting fame for requiring those who wanted to rent a horse from his stable to take whichever horse they wanted as long as it was in the stall next to the stable door. The phrase has come to mean a "choice" in name only. With public education having made the Hobbesian Choice, choosing to homeschool became a Hobson's Choice for me. I had no real alternative but to homeschool.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

John Taylor Gatto

John Taylor Gatto's excellent book The Underground History of American Education is now available online! Gatto was New York State's Teacher of the Year in 1991 when he wrote the following essay entitled "I Quit, I Think" for the The Wall Street Journal:

Government schooling is the most radical adventure in history. It kills the family by monopolizing the best times of childhood and by teaching disrespect for home and parents. The whole blueprint of school procedure is Egyptian, not Greek or Roman. It grows from the theological idea that human value is a scarce thing, represented symbolically by the narrow peak of a pyramid.

That idea passed into American history through the Puritans. It found its "scientific" presentation in the bell curve, along which talent supposedly apportions itself by some Iron Law of Biology. It’s a religious notion, School is its church. I offer rituals to keep heresy at bay. I provide documentation to justify the heavenly pyramid.

Socrates foresaw if teaching became a formal profession, something like this would happen. Professional interest is served by making what is easy to do seem hard; by subordinating the laity to the priesthood. School is too vital a jobs-project, contract giver and protector of the social order to allow itself to be "re-formed." It has political allies to guard its marches, that’s why reforms come and go without changing much. Even reformers can’t imagine school much different.

David learns to read at age four; Rachel, at age nine: In normal development, when both are 13, you can’t tell which one learned first—the five-year spread means nothing at all. But in school I label Rachel "learning disabled" and slow David down a bit, too. For a paycheck, I adjust David to depend on me to tell him when to go and stop. He won’t outgrow that dependency. I identify Rachel as discount merchandise, "special education" fodder. She’ll be locked in her place forever.

In 30 years of teaching kids rich and poor I almost never met a learning disabled child; hardly ever met a gifted and talented one either. Like all school categories, these are sacred myths, created by human imagination. They derive from questionable values we never examine because they preserve the temple of schooling.

That’s the secret behind short-answer tests, bells, uniform time blocks, age grading, standardization, and all the rest of the school religion punishing our nation. There isn’t a right way to become educated; there are as many ways as fingerprints. We don’t need state-certified teachers to make education happen—that probably guarantees it won’t.

How much more evidence is necessary? Good schools don’t need more money or a longer year; they need real free-market choices, variety that speaks to every need and runs risks. We don’t need a national curriculum or national testing either. Both initiatives arise from ignorance of how people learn or deliberate indifference to it. I can’t teach this way any longer. If you hear of a job where I don’t have to hurt kids to make a living, let me know. Come fall I’ll be looking for work.


Want more? Read the entire book at http://www.johntaylorgatto.com/chapters/index.htm
I highly recommend this utterly fascinating work.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Welcome! Please join us...

The purpose of this blog is to gather information and opinions from people who have found themselves reluctantly making the decision to homeschool because the public education system has failed them and they had nowhere else to turn.

Special Education failures.... Gifted and Talented education failures.... Cultural and Moral failures.... Socialization and Bullying failures....

A centralized, one-size-fits-all system of mass education has a lot of opportunities for failure. Add to that the inherent limitations of an entrenched, bloated bureaucracy and you have a recipe for disaster. A disaster that affects a lot of kids. That is wrong.

This blog will gather personal stories, share research, comment on news stories, and strive to promote the concept that parents know best what method of education is best for their children. It will provide evidence that the one-size-fits-all method is harmful individually and to society at large. It will advocate for more parental control and parental choice in education. It will attempt to influence the entrenched system of public education and amplify the opinion held by many that Father and Mother Know Best - not the government, not ivory-towered academicians, not so-called professionals - what is best for their children. Those institutions provide valuable support to parents and should be consulted, but they are NOT the decision-makers. The parents are.

Now what do we do about it? Share your stories... share your vision of change... share links to news stories.... give a book review.... Get Involved! Let's change something!