“I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.”
– Mark Twain
Modern parents may not realize it, but the 9-month school calendar is a throwback to the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, when children were needed as free labor to work in the fields planting, tending, and harvesting crops. The school atmosphere was also built with labor interests in mind. Its focus on encouraging passive, unchallenging behavior while training children to sit quietly in neat rows of uncomfortable desks originates from the industrialization period, when factories needed obedient workers for repetitive tasks. These ideas became embedded within the school system, and now they’re common practice without anyone stopping to question them. Early school dismissal times are another remnant of the past, one that ill-equates to the needs and schedules of most modern parents.
Even today, many people don’t realize that a great deal of what goes on in classrooms is installed to serve what the government sees as its interests rather than cater to the needs of the child. (Don’t believe us? A judge recently argued in a state suit against home schooling in California that one of the primary purposes of public education was to “indoctrinate” children into thoughts and behaviors that would be useful to the state. Therefore parents shouldn’t have a right to home school, he reasoned, because it denies the state control over their children.)
The problem is that school policies are typically created by politicians as opposed to people who aren’t mentally challenged. It’s designed to train children to be plugged into a system, but such systematic approaches have two problems:
- They tend to crush individuality and stifle creativity in the pursuit of this cookie cutter approach, and…
- They’re rigid and do not respond to changing needs. For example, some estimates are that the majority of 5-year-olds in kindergarten today will be employed in jobs as adults that do not yet exist.
This is a reminder that parents should question the status quot when it comes to their child’s education. The way it’s always been done is not necessarily the right way to be doing things.
That, and it can be fun to inform your kids that the reason they get a summer break is to slave away all day in the fields tending to your crops, but that you, being such a reasonable parent, will settle for weeding the garden and the occasional fetching of lemonades. The look on their face is priceless.