i spent much of my adolescence and preadolescence in school: public school, junior high school, high school, summer school, night school, winter school, and, a few times when i was younger, even “afterschool”. And what did i learn? Not mathematics, science, history, language arts, geography, ceramics, home economics, photography, “shop”, or even “gym”…
Well, maybe i learned a little bit of that stuff, but what i learned most clearly is that it is hard to learn all that stuff when you are forced to.
Compulsory education is a real issue. Looking at the word compulsory we start to think of coercion, or of being persuaded to do something using force or threats. That is what something that is compulsory does, and how does compulsory education do it? Using all types of threats that include the real possibility of being arrested or detained by police. This is an issue.
Compulsory education is a real issue. Looking at the words compulsory and education together many of us start to think of the benefits of education, of the fact that without learning the skills of life one cannot live. So is education compulsory in the sense that every growing person is coerced, forced, or, for the sake of sounding in favor of the real necessity of education, enthusiastically helped in the learning process that will allow them to grow fully as humans? No, because all compulsory education means to the people that enforce it, the schools, is a mandatory and minimum amount of classroom attendance per child. To the school, which as a human creation is no longer human, compulsory education means seats are filled, not that the people filling them are actually being helped to grow, as most humans would think. This is an issue.
After spending years in school, the most important thing i feel that i’ve learned is education should not be compulsory. Once a situation is in place where people are forced to go to schools for their education, during set times for a minimum number of hours, it takes some form of engagement to get them self-motivated to cooperate with the lesson the teacher has pre-planned. Such a job is not easy, and it is important to notice that compulsory education requires absolutely no prior interest from those it forces to “sit down quietly”. An educational system run in such a way is fueled by blind faith and mind control—it relies on people believing without any suspicions that they are learning things they “need to know”, which are always chosen by a teacher that nevertheless explains it is stuff they “have to know.”
After spending years in school, i’ve learned that education occurs everywhere. After all these years i’ve learned that the only true teacher of humanity is life, and that the only true school for humanity is existence. Every person has their own experiences and, from them, learn their own lessons. Once these lessons are processed and we begin to use them in our future experiences, which is the summary of any practical educational process, we begin to develop our own personalities. Our personalities then influence how we encounter experiences, what kind of lessons we draw, and what types of experiences we look to encounter (this last being our interests).
To conclude, my compulsory education education did teach me at least one valuable lesson: Education takes place everywhere, it is most practical when we learn to do things by doing them, and it is most enjoyable when it is based on developing the full potential of our interests and, thus, personality. i wonder if i had to experience a compulsory education education to learn this, and i wonder if others might draw the same conclusion if they did as well. For this reason, and everything else i have written, i believe that individuals, families, and social groups everywhere ought to develop a sense of education as something that promotes individual freedom and social harmony by initiating voluntary learning projects and collectives. Because it is so important for everyone, even young people, to experience education as what it really is, those lasting moments when we learn to live better, and to experience it so that personalities are born that can enthusiastically support it, it should become part of our dialogue whether it is outside the school or in.
The educational processes we need cannot take place by forcing students to listen to whoever happens to be designated as the power-wielding teacher. It is only by giving the freedom of teaching and learning to every individual, by distributing educational power rather than making it exclusive, that educational processes can occur anywhere as needed and desired, to the joy of those participating in co-creating that experience.