I've been recently reading a very interesting book called FREE AGENT NATION by Daniel Pink, detailing the way we have moved from an Organization Man Country (made up largely of factory workers) to a Free Agent nation. The back of the book reads this endorsement from Scott Adams, cartoonist best known for Dilbert, "The defining book on the untethered workforce…It will turn your notion of 'career' upside down. It might even set you free."
I propose that this book's chapter on homeschooling, entitled School's Out: Free Agency and the Future of Education (pp 243 -259) will turn your notion of 'school' upside down…and may even set you free!
Here is a little blip from Pink about the history of education:
"Through most of history, poeple learned from tutors or their close relations. In ninteenth-century America, says education historian David Tyack, "the school was a voluntary and incidental institution." American kids learned the basics from their families — or from the one-room schoolhouse they'd drop into every now and again. Not until the early twentieth century did public schools as we know them — large buildings in which students segregated by age learn from government-certified professionals — become widespread. And not until the 1920s did attending one become compulsory. Think about that last fact a moment. Compared with much of the world, America is a remarkably hands-off land. We don't force people to vote, or to work, or to serve in the military. But we do force young people to go to school for more than a decade. We don't compel parents to love their kids or teach their kids. But we do compel parents to relinquish their kids to this institution for a dozen years, and threaten jail to those who resist.
Compulsory mass schooling is an aberration in history and an aberration in modern society. Yet it was the ideal preparation for the Organization Man ecomomy. It equipped generations of future factory workers and middle managers with the basic skills and knoledge they needed on the job. And the broader lessons were equally as crucial. Kids learned to obey rules, follow orders, and respect authority — and the penalties that came with refusal.
This was just the sort of training the old economy demanded. Schools had bells; factories had whistles. Schools had report card grades; offices had pay grades. Pleasing your teacher prepared you for pleasing your boss. And in either place, if you acheived a minimal level of performance, you were promoted. Taylorism…didn't spend all its time on the job. It also went to class. In the school, as in the workplace, the reigning theory was One Best Way. Organization Kids learned the same things at the same time in the same manner in the same place. Marshall McLuhan once described schools as "the homogenizing hopper into which we toss our integral tots for processing." And schools made factory-style processing practically a religion — through standardized testing, standardized curricula, and standardized clusters of children (Question: when is the last time you spent all day in a room filled exclusively with peoeple born +/- 6 months of your own birth date?)
….It's hard to imagine that this arrangement can last much longer — a One Size Fits All education system cranking out workers for a My Size Fits Me economy. Maybe the answer to the riddle i posed at the start of this chapter is that we are succeeding in spite of our education system. But how long can that continue? And imagine how we'd prosper if we began educating our children more like we earn our livings.