So many parents tell me they can’t homeschool because they can’t be a teacher. But kids learn much better without teachers, because teachers are largely there to restrict freedom. If you leave 30 kids alone, together, they will definitely find stuff to do. It’ll just be chaos. And, of course, many kids would leave the classroom. Teachers are there to keep kids orderly. In a world of self-directed learning, there is no need for teachers.
Think of it like bike riding. The kid needs someone to provide the bike but the thrill of the bike is going anywhere you want. And falling. And getting up. All the adult can do to help is yell “good job!” and “keep pedling!”
In a world of self-directed learning we need adults who are genuinely invested in the children enjoying their days. But we do not need teachers who are invested in telling the kids what to learn. Here are three reasons why kids don’t need teachers.
1. Kids are better at gathering and using ideas than teachers are.
We are in the midst of a knowledge revolution because we are shifting the way we acquire knowledge and how we leverage knowledge once we have it. The key to this revolution, of course, is the Internet, and kids are better at using the Internet than teachers are.
Once reason for this is that kids have more elastic brains, shaped by the Internet to better use the information through the Internet. And, at the same time, workplace experience – the purview of adults – is becoming dated faster and faster. Did you know that you should never put more than 10 years of experience on your resume? That’s because industries change so fast that older experience is not valued in the workplace. (The two exceptions: lawyers and surgeons.)
I think you can apply this to teachers as well. There are many subjects—most of what is interesting to kids—that kids know more about than teachers. Especially since most of life today happens online. Kids know more about making connections, for example. Kids know more about monitoring their online behavior, and kids know more about creating content.
Take a look at Sylvia’s Show. Sure, she’s a special kid, but she’s special because she has so much courage. Other kids know as much as she does and they are creative as she is but they are stuck listening to their teacher define the assignment.
2. Kids are more effective at hands-on experimentation if they don’t have teacher oversight.
All knowledge is not mental. Some is physical. And some requires both. And certainly, experimentation is key to child development. But true experimentation requires long periods of no oversight.
People don’t need to be taught to dream up things to make, they need to be given the freedom to dream. If they are inclined to work with their hands, then they will use them to make something. But telling kids what to make is the opposite of experimentation. Experimentation begets failure, and why would you tell kids to do a project that would fail? The joy in failure is that you got to explore.
Experiments are a way of learning things. They require self-guided trial and error, active exploration, and testing by all the senses. Experiments begin with important questions, questions that make you think or that inspire you to create. This process of exploring, testing and finding out is vital to children’s intellectual and psychological development—but opportunities to engage in it are fewer than they once were.
3. Teachers have too much pull over kids if they are together eight hours a day.
Can you spend eight hours a day with anyone? It’s hard. Most of us don’t even do it with our spouse. But we expect our kids to do it so the kids have to convince themselves they like their teacher. They have to convince themselves that spending eight hours a day with the teacher is fine, because no one gives the kids a choice.
I know a lot about this. I convinced myself it was okay that my parents were abusing me. If your parents tell you something is okay, you believe them. So if you send a kid to school and school is stupid, the kid figures out a way to make it feel not stupid. This is child-rearing 101.
What’s interesting to me, though, is that my husband and I are in total agreement about the information in this post. However if I say something to my sons, like, “The schools in our community are terrible,” my husband gets upset.
Believe me, it’s not controversial that our local schools are terrible. They are Title I which is a way for the federal government to target schools that are likely to be terrible, because they are severely low-income, and so the government funnels more money to the school.
I am not alone. Anyone who moves from out of town acknowledges that the schools here are terrible. It’s the people who grew up here who can’t do it.
Today Matthew said, “I think my reaction to our local school is like Stockholm Syndrome.”
And I think he’s right. It’s nearly impossible to be in the care of the school for so many years and then turn against them. Heck, I was removed from my house for abuse and I was still, ten years later, thinking that my parents were sort of okay, not so bad. So I get it.
But we identify Stockholm syndrome – hostages empathizing and identifying with captors – as a disorder. And we identify kids who want to go back to their abusive parents as having a disorder. So I think defending schools even though clearly they are terrible is also a disorder.
I know, you will say that your kid’s school is different. Their school is good. The problem is that all parents say that. I know someone is Peoria who is saying that. If you send your kid to school you have to believe your kid’s school is different. Otherwise you couldn’t keep sending the kid there.
But your kid is developing Stockholm syndrome. And you are too.