One of the most unique and impressive features of the American education system has nothing to do with our government. It has to do with the people, and the rights most states protect.
The right I am speaking of is the right to raise our children the way we think is best for them. And the feature is homeschooling.
Homeschooling is the perfect solution to the vast majority of problems that our children face in our schools. It is also the answer to our budgetary problems in our states and federal systems. If you can’t see why, then answer me this: who is a better teacher, the parents or bureaucrats?
If you think bureaucrats can do a better job at educating a child, then by all means, drop your own children off at school and don’t worry a wink because there’s nothing you can do to help.
If you know that parents are the critical component to education, then you understand why there are parents swarming the elementary schools in our nation. Parents do not trust government bureaucrats to do their jobs, because educating a child is much different than what bureaucrats can do.
The wonderful self-organizing spirit that Americans possess, almost unique among the nations of this earth, is evidence in the homeschooling industry. I feel safe in saying that even those parents who have had little or no education can find the resources they need to become the best teachers possible for their own children for free.
One of the major technological innovations that has changed the landscape of education altogether, and will make schools a relic of the past is the internet. Today, it doesn’t matter who you are, you have access to experts in any field. You don’t need subscriptions to journals and magazines to get the latest information, you don’t need to spend a single dollar on an encyclopedia set, and you don’t have to look more than 10 minutes to find someone willing to lecture on or demonstrate almost any subject.
Homeschooling works when the child is allowed to learn at the pace they are comfortable with. We already know that people learn best when they see a need for that knowledge. Rather than trying to bring the factory-like conditions of the school home, parents are better off letting children learn the same way adults working in the high-tech industry learn. Let them find their own interests. It doesn’t matter the field, eventually they’ll understand the need to read, write, and do math. With that relevant interest, they’ll be much more motivated to learn.
As I watch the series “Universe”, I am struck by how shallow the medium of TV really is. If the students were able to explore these topics on their own, they would be exposed to the math behind the topics. If you truly want to understand the motion of the planets, you are going to learn about ellipses and the inverse-r-squared force of gravity. With a goal in mind, learning these topics becomes a simple matter of getting access to the facts. How hard is it to learn about inverse-r-squared laws, and the math behind them? That information is found in many places, and not just Wikipedia.
The child that learns how the inverse-r-squared laws work will likely be exposed to their application to electric and magnetic fields. If they continue that interest, eventually they will be learning college level physics, perhaps from one of the many fine lectures available from top universities on the subject.
Socrates was distrustful of writing things down, and preferred people engage in a conversation about topics. I see a day when, like in the free software industry, experts spend a considerable amount of time fielding questions in public forums rather than lecturing in front of classes of a few hundred. Eventually, the past conversations become the knowledge, there for the plucking for anyone who is willing to type a few words into Google and spend an afternoon trying to comprehend what was said. Those experts who explain things best will rise to the top, and everyone will benefit.
In this way, books, libraries, schools, and even the lecture halls at universities will become things of the past, monuments to an age when people had a hard time finding each other and communicating. Today, those who are busy learning don’t waste their time with those things.