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Anti-schooling activism or radical education reform seeks to abolish compulsory schooling laws.
Teaching as political control
A non-curriculum, non-instructional method of teaching was advocated by Neil Postman and Charles Weingartner in their book Teaching as a Subversive Activity. In inquiry education students are encouraged to ask questions which are meaningful to them, and which do not necessarily have easy answers; teachers are encouraged to avoid giving answers.
Murray N. Rothbard argues that the history of the drive for compulsory schooling is not guided by altruism, but by a desire to coerce the population into a mold desired by "The Establishment".[clarification needed]
John Caldwell Holt asserts that youths should have the right to control and direct their own learning, and that the current compulsory schooling system violates a basic fundamental right of humans: the right to decide what enters our minds. He thinks that freedom of learning is part of freedom of thought, even more fundamental a human right than freedom of speech. He especially states that forced schooling, regardless of whether the student is learning anything whatsoever, or if the student could more effectively learn elsewhere in different ways, is a gross violation of civil liberties (Holt, 1974).
Nathaniel Branden adduces government should not be permitted to remove children forcibly from their homes, with or without the parents' consent, and subject the children to educational training and procedures of which the parents may or may not approve. He also claims that citizens should not have their wealth expropriated to support an educational system which they may or may not sanction, and to pay for the education of children who are not their own. He claims this must be true for anyone who understands and is consistently committed to the principle of individual rights. He asserts that the disgracefully low level of education in America today is the predictable result of a state-controlled school system, and that the solution is to bring the field of education into the marketplace.
The corruption of children – Rousseau
Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote in his book Emile: or, On Education that all children are perfectly designed organisms, ready to learn from their surroundings so as to grow into virtuous adults, but due to the malign influence of corrupt society, they often fail to do so. Rousseau advocated an educational method which consisted of removing the child from society—for example, to a country home—and alternately conditioning him through changes to environment and setting traps and puzzles for him to solve or overcome.
Rousseau was unusual in that he recognized and addressed the potential of a problem of legitimation for teaching. He advocated that adults always be truthful with children, and in particular that they never hide the fact that the basis for their authority in teaching was purely one of physical coercion: "I'm bigger than you." Once children reached the age of reason, at about 12, they would be engaged as free individuals in the ongoing process of their own.
Grading – Illich
In Deschooling Society, Ivan Illich calls for the disestablishment of schools. He claims that schooling confuses teaching with learning, grades with education, diplomas with competence, attendance with attainment, and, especially, process with substance. He writes that schools do not reward real achievement, only processes. Schools inhibit a person’s will and ability to self-learn, ultimately resulting in psychological impotence. He claims that forced schooling perverts the victims’ natural inclination to grow and learn and replaces it with the demand for instruction. Further, the current model of schooling, replete with credentials, betrays the value of a self-taught individual. Moreover, institutionalized schooling seeks to quantify the unquantifiable – human growth.
Effects on local culture and economics
In some cases schooling has been used as a tool for assimilation and a both deliberate and inadvertent tool to change local culture and economics into another form. Opponents of this effect argue it is a human right for a culture to be maintained, and education can violate this human right. Forced schooling has been used to forcibly assimilate Native Americans in the United States and Canada, which some have said is cultural genocide. Many psychologists believe the forced assimilation of native cultures has contributed to their high suicide rates and poverty. Western education encourages Western modes of survival and economic systems, which can be worse and poorer than the existing modes of survival and economic systems of an existing culture.
There are many factors that can cause schooling to be source of stress and depression in a person's life, which can have long term health effects and mental disorders.  School bullying can lead to depression and long term emotional damage. Societal and familial academic pressure and rigorous schooling can also lead to stress, depressions, and suicide. Academic pressure and rigorous schooling has been pointed to as a cause of the high rate of suicide among South Korean adolescents. General boredom from school can also cause stress, and low academic performance can lead to low self esteem. A student's family can suffer from academic related stress as well. One psychologist states:
Ineffective or counter to its purpose
Some of the proposed purposes of western style compulsory education are to prepare students to join the adult workforce and be financially successful, have students learn useful skills and knowledge, and prepare students to make positive economic or scientific contributions to society. Critics of schooling say it is ineffective at achieving these purposes and goals. In many countries, schools do not keep up with the skills demanded by the workplace, or never have taught relevant skills. Students often feel unprepared for college as well. More schooling does not necessarily correlate with greater economic growth. Alternate forms of schooling, such as the Sudbury model, have been shown to be sufficient for college acceptance and other western cultural goals.
Instead of being a way out of poverty and a way to stay away from crime, for many, school has the opposite effect. Schooling often perpetuates poverty and class divisions. At many schools, students are introduced to gangs, drugs and crime. The school to prison pipeline also converts children into criminals through overly harsh punishments. Punishments from truancy and other school related laws also adversely effect students and parents.
- John Taylor Gatto
- John Holt (educator)
- Philosophy of education
- Sudbury model
- Indigenous education § Criticism of the Western educational model
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