Thursday, 26 February 2009

Compulsory Education

There is a campaign for Ending Compulsory Education. I found the information on the Action for Home Education site.

On their home page they have a query about the government slogan "Every Child Matters"
Every Child Matters?

Each week: 450,000 children are bullied in school
Each year: more than 360,000 children injured in schools
Each year: at least 16 children commit suicide as a result of school bullying
Each year: an estimated 1 million children truant
Each year: more than 1 in 6 children leave school unable to read, write or add up.

Every Child Matters?

Home Education: because EACH child matters, individually!

There are many famous and successful people who are not in favour of children going to school. I like this quote from Winston Churchill
"Schools have not necessarily much to do with education....they are mainly institutions of control, where basic habits must be inculcated in the young. Education is quite different and has little place in school."

I agree that we should end compulsion and coercion in education because

*It is unnecessary: uncoerced children love to learn

*It hampers genuine discovery and development through free observations for the learner. This is done by the imposition of schemes and plans that fit a pre existing theory about when and what should be learned, and how the learning should be achieved.

*It sets up "experts" in a coercive system of learning and this limits diversity and distorts human potential and creativity.

Here is an interesting video on the history of compulsory schooling.

Another quote I like is
"I don’t think we’ll get rid of schools any time soon, certainly not in my lifetime, but if we’re going to change what’s rapidly becoming a disaster of ignorance, we need to realize that the school institution "schools" very well, though it does not "educate"; that’s inherent in the design of the thing. It’s not the fault of bad teachers or too little money spent. It’s just impossible for education and schooling ever to be the same thing." John Taylor Gatto

"The idea is to have the child in pursuit of knowledge, not knowledge in pursuit of the child." George Bernard Shaw

"It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education." Albert Einstein

"We are faced with the paradoxical fact that education has become one of the chief obstacles to intelligence and freedom of thought." Bertrand Russell

I was talking with my Wednesday year 6 class about the problem with education being compulsory. Of course they agreed that it takes the joy out of learning and that they would learn anyway even if they did not go to school. One boy, 'Daniel', who I've written about before, mentioned this poem by William Blake and quoted the lines
"But to go to school in a summer morn,
O it drives all joy away!

Here is the full poem in case you are not familiar with it.
The Schoolboy

by William Blake.

I love to rise in a summer morn
when the birds sing on every tree;
The distant huntsman winds his horn,
And the skylark sings with me;
O what sweet company!

But to go to school in a summer morn,
O it drives all joy away!
Under a cruel eye outworn,
The little ones spend the day
In sighing and dismay.

Ah then at times I drooping sit,
And spend many an anxious hour;
Nor in my book can I take delight,
Nor sit in learning's bower,
Worn through with the dreary shower.

How can the bird that is born for joy
Sit in a cage and sing?
How can a child when fears annoy
But droop his tender wing,
And forget his youthful spring?

O father and mother, if buds are nipped,
And blossoms blown away;
And if the tender plants are stripped
Of their joy in the springing day,
By sorrow and care's dismay,

How shall the summer arise in joy,
Or the summer fruits appear?
Or how shall we gather what griefs destroy,
Or bless the mellowing year,
When the blasts of winter appear?