Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Two excuses of pro-schooling advocates

When pro-schooling (meaning, "quick, let's put each and every child out there into school, compulsorily!!" ) advocates submit their reasons about why unschooling / homeschooling isn't good for everyone, two of the typical reasons I have heard quoted most often are:

1. Peers, socializing
2. Working parents aren't at home

(This is after we have settled the core topic of whether kids learn and grow best in freedom, self-directed learning or under factory schooling and externally imposed learning.. with the conclusion being on the former)

Let's take number one, peers. It's worth noting that peers and socializing with other human beings is NOT the primary motive of modern day schools. They happen as a side thing, for the simple fact that everybody has been put into school so that's where all the kids are. And in the case of peers, the schools do as much as they can to reduce and control socializing of kids with their peers. Kids of the same age as you aren't peers, aren't social company. But that's what you're given by the school. Take it or endure it (and oh boy did I have to endure it! I got along so much better with older and younger kids). A child's true social peer group spans multiple age groups : from babies to senior citizens. Schools provide just a thin slice of that; and broken away from the rest, it's just not the same.

In fact, I'm sure that if they were given the opportunity, most pro-schoolers would see to it that their students have no peers at all so that they pay complete attention to studies. Go to any classroom. Teachers hate peer groups. They do their best to make them sit separately. They advise parents to not let the child interact with so and so friends whose marks are low. Parents take that advice and prevent their kids from visiting, playing with the friends they've naturally made; rather, they push their kids to go befriend that class topper, maybe their kid will catch the intelligence from them as if it's a bloody communicable disease or lice or something. (hmm.. I'm imagining what would happen if parents of pubescent kids started believing that academic brilliance could be sexually transmitted!) There are schools now that force the kids to quietly eat without talking to anyone even in lunch break! That's right, at some places kids are not even allowed to spring out of their seats and run like mad as soon as the lunch bell rings. Can you imagine that??

The problem of not having enough peers attributed to unschooling by the advocates of schooling... has been inflicted on unschoolers by widespread schooling. It's because the rest of the kids are locked up in prisons all day that unschooling kids don't get the peer and social group that they deserve. What's your solution to that : even more schooling?
It's like saying that since the bottling company is sucking up most of the drinking water from the local acquifer, we should all buy more and more bottled water from that same company... as if that will solve the problem. It won't : it'll only exacerbate it. The solution is to stop the bottling company from monopolizing the community's water supply. Not forcing the people still holding out to cave in. The solution in the peers issue, is to stop the schools from monopolizing the time of the kids. Why is schooling occupying nearly the full waking hours of kids now? School hours are getting longer with extra classes added in. And then, tuition classes till night time.

It is unfair to call students being forced to study for so many hours as having peers and socializing. Those aren't peers.. they're prison-mates. Naturally socializing here is highly polluted by bullying, materialism, jealousy etc : those aren't the behaviours of normal human beings when they're free to decide where and with whom they want to be. I was SO angry when after having to endure over a decade of these behaviours through school, after coming out in the open world I found out that people, even my former tormentors, simply don't behave that way in real life. Then why the ***** were we put through all those SICK forms of socializing in my formative years??

Number two : working parents aren't at home:
This because governments haven't stood up to the industries, they've let them have a free run of the place. Wages are so low compared to the costs of living, employment is so difficult, working hours are so long. My dad had a workday that was SO short he'd be back long before sunset and would take a nice afternoon-to-evening nap. And his salary took care of the whole family's expenses! Nowadays it's impossible to find any job like that. Either you're fully unemployed, or you're a slave of the employer with all your waking hours being his property. There's no respectable in-between nowadays. Schooling or not, parents today are having their parenting time usurped by employment compulsions. Can't blame unschoolers for that : it's a societal problem which cannot be fixed by sending even their children to school... sending the children to school is a stop-gap measure; it doesn't solve this problem. These requirements of the workplace then transmit to schools and schools lock up the children longer and longer to match up.
It's like saying let's keep all our kids locked up at home because there's too much child sexual abuse happening nowadays. That's NOT a solution; that won't solve any problem. To oppose unschooling by saying this reason is a cop-out.

Anyways, let us assume that yes, schools are the only avenue for kids to engage with peers, and that the issue of parents not having enough time to be with their kids is too big an issue to be handled here. Then if the pro-school advocates are really so concerned for the unschooling kids, why can't we give them an invitation to come to a school in the area, just for socializing with peers and for being at a place in absence of their parents.. without the compulsory education part? Let them hang around there and don't force them to attend any classes or do any classwork / homework. They can interact with the other kids during breaks, free periods, coming and going times. They can sit around the library or play in the playground during class times. They could even just come in the class for one or two subjects that they want to attend.. at the back benches, just listening in, with an assurance to not disturb the class. That will satisfactorily solve the two problems given.. right? Why can't we have an arrangement like that?

And this is where the reality comes out. No school, no educator, at least in the mainstream, would allow such an easily doable arrangement to happen. Because doing so, will make their students / prisoners yearn for the same thing  : A school where I can come and be with my friends; where I can be while my parents are away; but where I don't have compulsory education being shoved down my throat, where I am not imprisoned to a chair all day, where I am not forced to read and memorize or work on these knowledge books but rather where they are ready and waiting for me when I want to read them. This option, dangling right in front of their eyes, will be so tempting for the remaining imprisoned kids, that schooling as usual will fall apart in no time.
And so, it cannot be allowed by the pro-schoolers. It's a package deal, boss : "We'll give your kid our excuse for a peer group (only one age ka kids) that she so desires, but in exchange we'll take everything else away from her. We'll enslave her to our compulsory factory schooling model. Can't have one without the other!"

So, parents of current and prospecting unschoolers/homeschoolers, please don't buy these two excuses that pro-schoolers keep repeatedly quoting. Yes, those issues are there. But the solution is not to send your kids back into the factory; it's to get more kids to break out of it so you can get the critical mass needed to get together and fulfill those needs.

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