Even Our Rebellion Is Compliant

by Tammy Drennan


I’d like to share a few random thoughts drawn from my 23 years of homeschooling, tutoring, teaching classes and workshops, teaching adult literacy, helping thousands of parents start homeschooling and working for freedom in education.


1. First there’s the obvious. Motivated people learn best.


2. People who do most of their study on their own learn better than those who depend on teachers. By study on their own, I mean seeking out the best sources of knowledge regarding the topic at hand and finding the best way to make it their own; for some that could be a classroom situation only, but not for many.


3. Testing may be a motivating factor for getting a good grade but it’s a truly lousy motivator for learning to understand – and learning to understand is what results in education.


4. People don’t learn very well unless they interact with what they’re studying. Children usually interact by talking and/or by acting out things they’re learning. Talking and play-acting are not only discouraged in most schools – they’re practically outlawed. Adults also interact by talking but also by underlining, jotting notes and lingering over ideas for as long as it takes to grasp them.


5. People don’t tend to retain things they’re not interested in or things they don’t need to know. When the same person who couldn’t grasp a concept at age 16 finds he needs that concept at age 18, his ability to grasp it rises to the occasion.


6. Government schooling has defined education down to the point of having handicapped generations of adults, including many of the ones leading the charge for independence today. Our hope is in reversing the process – educating our children in better ways than we were educated, then hoping they will find better ways yet, and so on, until we have repaired the damage and are moving forward again.


7. Educators have a lot of trouble distinguishing between trivia and knowledge. Facts devoid of substantial context are fairly pointless. Nearly everyone knows George Washington was our first president, and nearly no one knows the impact he had on the political shape our country took and how it still informs the presidency to this day – and has the potential to inform it even more.


8. Way, way too many subjects are drawn out over years of schooling when it would be far better to introduce them incidentally or by way of stories in younger “grades” and teach them in earnest in one fell swoop when a student gains the maturity and need to actually grasp them. The finer points of grammar, for instance – kindergarteners are being bombarded with definitions of nouns, verbs and adjectives, yet seniors cannot write coherent letters.


What Now?


I could go on – I could lament the dumbing down of phonics programs, the vapidity of most language arts programs, the lack of a mature approach to history once students reach their teenage years, but my point is not to be morose – it’s to be honest and to challenge myself and others to find better definitions of education and better ways to do it.


It is not enough to simply break free of public school authority. We must break free of all its definitions. It has defined education and thus has defined us. It has defined education and thus has defined liberty. It has defined education and thus has defined nearly everything we do and everything we are – usually in ways so subtle we don’t even know it. It has even defined our religion, no matter how much we may deny it.


We can pretend all we like that by trying to reform the schools we are helping the poorest the most, but it’s a lie. We’re helping them the least. We are condemning them to an eternal slave mentality, to forever having their entire lives defined by the state.


But maybe we need to find ourselves before we can help others break free. Maybe we condemn them to state schools because we’ve learned to fear freedom and to trust government. That was the plan, of course – not free people but compliant people. Even our rebellion is compliant.


We can do better. But I believe we must become more determined and more wise. The freedom movement is good, but to a large degree, the horse is running before the cart.


It’s time for committed people to begin gathering – two, three, ten, a hundred at a time – to hash out the meaning and means of education. Then it’s time for like-minded souls to join ranks and create opportunities based on their best, most informed, most carefully and honestly considered understanding, so their will be true choices for all children.


Why not call a friend or two today and invite them to begin a serious investigation into the meaning of education? Feel free to print and use anything from this blog that might prove useful to you.


And please, any time you find a valuable resource or idea that contributes to a better understanding of what is meant by education and how it can happen, let me know.


3 Responses to Even Our Rebellion Is Compliant

  1. Frances C says:

    I asked a pro-government school friend this question a couple of weeks ago via e-mail. This was her response.

    1. Diversity- race, religion, culture, skin color. It is very important to me that Claire and Luke are exposed to others that are not like them.

    2. Programming- I want them to be able to go to music, gym, art, language, etc. I can’t provide them with all of those things. They were my favorite things in school, and I want them to encounter them.

    3. Different personalities- Although they may encounter some that they don’t like, I think that this builds character. It also helps with communication skills!

    I asked her is mastery of skills was important. Here is her answer.

    Of course! However, I don’t think you can make a list and check it off when something is mastered to deem someone “well educated”. Book knowledge will only get you so far in life. Social skills/ interactions are just as (if not more) important in my eyes. Being in school , surrounded by your peers, gives you a huge opportunity to learn social skills and how to interact with people.

    This is a very disturbing view of education to me.

  2. tdbwd says:


    Would that more people were asking their pro-government school friends to articulate their views. Your friend gives all the typical answers, but when I apply my experience, as well as that of others, to these answers, they don’t quite add up.

    Diversity: Some children are exposed to a diverse population of races and cultures in schools, though most probably aren’t. You’d think after all these years of this diversity exposure, we’d have a more racially integrated and understanding society. Studies actually show that children who attend private school are more accepting of racial and cultural differences than public schooled children. My experience in homeschooling circles is that race is irrelevant in most cases.

    Programming: Here’s an area where homeschoolers and many private schools really have fun. The sky’s the limit and parents and children are stretching their wings with art and music classes, all manner of sports, choirs, bands, foreign language classes, drama, dance, martial arts, the list could go on for pages. I have a brother whose children’s private school stages the most incredible musicals every year. Public school pales in these areas compared with what the private sector is doing.

    Different Personalities: One of the strengths of homeschooling is that children must actually adapt to different personalities (not just roll their eyes and tolerate them, then make fun of them when they get home or are alone with friends), because they have to live and work with them.

    Academic: The attitude that school is actually more about social adjustment than academics is growing among school personnel and parents. I agree that social skills are very important, but knowledge is at least as equally important. Public schools are dropping the ball in both areas.

    Thanks for sharing your friend’s thoughts, Frances. Looking forward to hearing from you again.

    Tammy Drennan

  3. Frances C says:

    On diversity. . .
    I want my kids to be introduced to diversity and they are. The thing that concerns me about government schools is the indoctrination of a different world view without me being present to counter what is being said with my worldview. I am Christian, yet I discuss Animism, Budhism, etc. with my children. I do it in a way where they understand the differences and where our worldviews differ. I also do it in a loving way. They understand that they are not to point at women in veils or act rudely to children that must dress differently because of their religious beliefs. I think in the end my children will be more exposed to various cultures/religions/socio-ecomonic conditions because we will volunteer at the homeless shelter and visit mosques and generally interact with a wider variety of people than is possible in the walls of a classroom.

    As to my friend. . .
    I don’t know how to communicate these things without sounding bossy or arrogant or something. There are so many people that I know that I would call good parents that honestly believe that government schools are the best option. It makes me kind of sad.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: