Oak and Iron

Every citizen of the United States must be enrolled in some form of secondary education program until the age of sixteen. It has become a commonly accepted notion to send one’s children to the public schools to receive their education. Surprisingly this concept so familiar to us is acutely contemporary in nature. Prior to the 1900s (at which time schooling became institutionalized by government) a child was most often educated in the house by the mother (in the custom of our forefathers) or later on congregated with other local children at a one-room school. There, a single teacher taught reading, writing and arithmetic to all the local children. Such greats including Robert Gordon Menzies, the longest-serving Prime Minister of Australia and Laura Ingalls Wilder, who later dramatized her experience in Little House on the Prairie and other children’s novels, were both raised in such a manner. Both the home and one-room school teaching methods can be described as personalized while the public schools can, again, be considered institutional.

In the modern era it has become only natural to assume that the public schools would offer a superior education to that of a more personalized approach and indeed home schooling is now considered a taboo amongst some parents. But how can we be so certain that an education program created, administered and disseminated by a central authority (the government) is entirely comprehensive and teaches children the mandatory life skills, ethics and morals respective of a productive citizen? How can we be so sure that an education system designed to make zealous workers out of a one size fits all mold is the best thing for our children?  How can we be so sure that a world of ID numbers, averages and SAT scores is more rewarding then cultivating the Socratic appetite of questioning and discussion? An era that forgets rhetoric, ethics, grammar, communication skills and investigation and sides with memorizing test answers, raising breadwinners and accepting the world around us as is with a fervent and often suicidal impulse to work for the hive mind? Verily, personalized teaching is much more rewarding then that of the institution.

When considering personalized teaching we must first understand its origin. For most of humanity’s history schooling has remained the same: mothers were assigned the task of not only fundamental education but also teaching the child life skills. Of course the elite always found their way to unlock higher knowledge (often to use as a powerful weapon against other rich men), whether it be at the Academy or Lyceum or under the wing of their own personal Cicero. The common people on the other hand, that is the majority of the population, were raised by their families in a manner which must have been much different then the cold halogen lights, plastic and pedantic droning of the institution. The environment would have allowed a more personalized approach to learning, comprehensive one on one support, the expressed wisdom of the elder (without fear of paper reprisal from “concerned” parents), a warm and friendly, casual relationship with the teacher and most importantly: time spent together.

Topics covered would be what were important to the parent. Hands on experience would include chores and pragmatic examples. The child would be able to learn what it meant to live well from a loving and concerned teacher whose only reward was seeing their child grow up properly. The student would be encouraged to develop a rich imagination, curiosity, would learn faster, integrate social events into the teaching, work within a flexible and more realistic schedule, religion, ethics and other important things deemed too controversial would be taught, non-traditional subjects would be studied, geography, art and music would have been enhanced and finally family skills and topics would be migrated to the child – such as business management skills or in the case of a farmer or hunter, the ability to collect food.

As a rule of thumb, personalized teaching does not involve professional teachers in search of a paycheck but rather concerned citizens who wish the best for their children. County teachers were once students who would be paid by the community to teach their children as best as they could. In this fashion the one-room teacher became a surrogate parent, role model and friend. The powerful bound between teacher and student, inherent to other cultures (especially highlighted in Confucianism) was found here. Personalized teaching is a pragmatic, comprehensive and enriching experience which caters to the natural state of human beings as being curious and self-dependant and teaches how to live virtuously. It also produces well rounded individuals because it pays special attention to the social aspects of education, not only the intellectual (or in the case of public schools, semi-intellectual) machinery. The following statistics  must be considered.

In 2003, the National Home Education Research Institute conducted a survey of over 7,300 adults who had been homeschooled (over 5,000 for more than seven years). Here are some of the study’s findings:

“Homeschool graduates are active and involved in their communities. Seventy-one percent participate in an ongoing community service activity (e.g., coaching a sports team, volunteering at a school, or working with a church or neighborhood association), compared to 37% of U.S. adults of similar ages.”

“Homeschoolers are more involved in civic affairs and vote in much higher percentages than their peers. For example, 76% of homeschool graduates surveyed between the ages of 18–24 voted within the last five years, compared to only 29% of the relevant U.S. population. The numbers of homeschool graduates who vote are even greater in the older age brackets, with voting levels not falling below 95%, compared to a high of 53% for the corresponding U.S. populace.”

“Of those adults who were homeschooled, 58.9% report that they are ‘very happy’ with life (compared to 27.6% for the general U.S. population). Moreover, 73.2% of homeschooled adults find life ‘exciting’, compared to 47.3% of the general population.”

ERIC, the Education Resources Information Center of the U.S. government, has published multiple articles on homeschooling. Here’s an excerpt from one which examined several studies on homeschool socialization:

“According to the findings, children who were schooled at home ‘gained the necessary skills, knowledge, and attitudes needed to function in society…at a rate similar to that of conventionally schooled children.’

“The researcher found no difference in the self concept of children in the two groups. Stough maintains that ‘insofar as self concept is a reflector of socialization, it would appear that few home-schooled children are socially deprived, and that there may be sufficient evidence to indicate that some home-schooled children have a higher self concept than conventionally schooled children.'”

The institution on the other hand has a tendency to eradicate all consideration and instead create a universal mold for all good behaving drones to conform to. The relationship between teacher and student is formal at best and most often hostile. The teachers are typically not motivated out of an interest in the anonymous student’s education, but rather his or her career. Anything even remotely cultural or ethical cannot be discussed, yet the curriculum takes special attention on glorying criminals and specific ideologies and religions above other ones. What is being taught is a watered down and residue of true academics, often with a socio-political agenda.  The public schools eradicate individuality and foster decadence including drug use, materialism, criminal behavior, early sex, violence and bullying. Adults are made into idols to be obeyed rather then respected; the respect of the peer is a purely complimentary consideration. The awkward and formal nature of the public schools dissuades the student from questioning and acting, for lack of a better word, normal. It creates a synthetic control structure ruled by fear of punishment instead of wonder of learning. Public schooling obliterates the natural state of humans and replaces it with the consumer model of bovine ascension to the white picket fence. Surely, we can aspire to be more then whores to this system and instead take the time out of our busy lives to raise our own children or at the very least pay out of our own pockets for more comprehensive and sincere private schooling.

The institution will also make arguments for public schooling. Some will argue that the education content is superior, this is a fallacy. According to the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) home schooled students outperform their public schooled peers 30 to 37% in all subjects. Surprisingly, home schooled students also do exceptionally well on standardized tests such as the ACT or SAT as well, also according to the HSLDA. Furthermore, home schooled students typically are exposed to a wider range of topics and subjects. Some may also argue that home schooling is insular and restricts the flow of new ideas, pervert social maturation and is not realistic in preparing a student for the real world. All of these arguments are highly conditional but are mostly fallacious. Overall it’s been found that the very opposite is apparent. For example home schooled students usually have a more active social life then that of an institutionalized student, having a much more active role in clubs, religions and community activities.

Considering all the facts in the end is it acceptable to expose our children to the mind numbing conditioning and violence of the public school system? The answer is verily no, there is perhaps no advantage to exposing children to the public schools. The nature of the public schools has become such perhaps because of the characteristic apathy of the American public. In the future we might seek to improve the quality of our schools by having a localized curriculum, more open communication and dialogue, rhetoric, philosophy, ethics, morals and grammar being covered. Only once we train our children in the natural method of our ancestors can we ever return our culture to a functional state.