Anti-schooling activism

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Anti-schooling activism or radical education reform seeks to abolish compulsory schooling laws.


Teaching as political control[edit]

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.[1]

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".[citation needed][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.[2]

The corruption of children – Rousseau[edit]

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.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

Grading – Illich[edit]

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[edit]

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.[3] Forced schooling has been used to forcibly assimilate Native Americans in the United States and Canada, which some have said is cultural genocide.[4][5] Many psychologists believe the forced assimilation of native cultures has contributed to their high suicide rates and poverty.[6] 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.[6][7][8]

Ineffective or counter to its purpose[edit]

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.[9][10] 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.[11][12][13][14] Students often feel unprepared for college as well.[15] More schooling does not necessarily correlate with greater economic growth.[16] Alternate forms of schooling, such as the Sudbury model, have been shown to be sufficient for college acceptance and other western cultural goals.[17]

Studies have shown much of what is learned is quickly forgotten, unless an individual is involved in activities which reinforce what they had learned.[18][19][20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Postman, Neil, and Weingartner, Charles (1969), Teaching as a Subversive Activity, Dell, New York, NY.
  2. ^ Branden, N. (1963). Public Education, Should Education be Compulsory and Tax Supported, as it is Today? Chapter 5, Common Fallacies About Capitalism, Ayn Rand, Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, p. 89.
  3. ^ Noam, Schimmel, (2007-01-01). "Indigenous education and human rights". Retrieved 2016-11-19. 
  4. ^ Austen, Ian (2015-06-02). "Canada's Forced Schooling of Aboriginal Children Was 'Cultural Genocide,' Report Finds". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-11-19. 
  5. ^ Jones, Jennifer; Bosworth, Dee Ann; Lonetree, Amy (2011). "American Indian Boarding Schools: An Exploration of Global Ethnic & Cultural Cleansing" (PDF). Ziibiwing Center of Anishinabe Culture & Lifeways. 
  6. ^ a b "'A struggle for hope'". Retrieved 2016-11-19. 
  7. ^ "Philosophy of Education -- From: Chapter 5: Schooling in Capitalist America". Retrieved 2016-11-19. 
  8. ^ "neolithic hunter-gatherers: Marshall Sahlins- The Original Affluent Society". Retrieved 2016-11-20. 
  9. ^ ASCD. "Education Update:Quality Feedback:What Is the Purpose of Education?". Retrieved 2016-11-20. 
  10. ^ "What is the purpose of education?". Retrieved 2016-11-20. 
  11. ^ "Schools 'failing to prepare young people for work', say business leaders". Retrieved 2016-11-20. 
  12. ^ "Schools 'are not preparing students for the workplace'". The Independent. 2015-08-24. Retrieved 2016-11-20. 
  13. ^ "'Education inflation' hurts Swedes' job prospects". 2013-09-17. Retrieved 2016-11-20. 
  14. ^ Reich, Robert. "Robert Reich: College is a ludicrous waste of money". Salon. Retrieved 2016-11-20. 
  15. ^ "Survey: Most high school students feel unprepared for college, careers". EdSource. Retrieved 2016-11-20. 
  16. ^ "Education and Economic Growth - Education Next". Education Next. 2008-02-29. Retrieved 2016-11-20. 
  17. ^ "Sudbury Valley School • Online Library. Alumni". Retrieved 2016-11-20. 
  18. ^ Willingham, Daniel. "Do Students Remember What They Learn in School?". American Federation of Teachers. Retrieved 2016-11-20. 
  19. ^ Herald, University (2014-06-25). "First-Year College Students Forget Up To 60 Percent Of Material They Learned High School". University Herald. Retrieved 2016-11-20. 
  20. ^ "Classics in the History of Psychology -- Ebbinghaus (1885/1913) Chapter 1". Retrieved 2016-11-20.