The Illness of State Schooling

by Tammy Drennan


I’ve been reading over teacher blogs lately with all their blather about kids needing to read about people “they can relate to” (meaning children and teenagers suffering from various forms of dysfunction and anxiety), and I wondered what I’ve wondered many times:


Isn’t education about learning to relate to all sorts of people – and further, how hard can it be to relate to another human being, so long as the person is/was not severely psychotic or so aberrant in behavior that the average person should not be able to relate to him or her?


I remember in 7th grade coming upon a book about George Washington Carver. He lived in an age far different from mine, unlike me he had been a slave, unlike me he was male, unlike me he was black, unlike me he was a scientist… the list could go on for some time. Yet I connected with this man’s life from the first page.


I went on to read many, many biographies of people completely unlike me, with nary a hitch in my cultural-connection gitalong. As a matter of fact, I found the stories exciting. Just look at what these extraordinary people did, at what they overcame, at how they excelled. What bored me after this taste of high reality and possibility were depressing stories of teen angst and mundane or unredeemed lives.


This is one more symptom of the illness called state schooling — its never-ending downward spiral into the abyss of mediocrity, meaninglessness and hopelessness. The practitioners, often out of ignorance, fail to administer the medicines that can cure the baser aspects of the human condition – examples of lives well-lived and ideals upheld, of overcoming not only economic hardship but moral shortcomings.


 I want the children I love to read about people they can admire and emulate. I want them to read about lives that will excite them with hope and possibility. This is what children read before state schools got their hands on them.


The bottom line is that state schooling messes up everything it gets its hands on. It’s messed up our children’s education, their morals, their cultural connectedness, and more recently, their health. Is there anything left?


It’s time to stop the madness.


4 Responses to The Illness of State Schooling

  1. wintertime says:

    Two books greatly influenced my homeschool:

    Nurtured by Love: The Classic Approach to Talent Education by Shinichi Suzuki,

    The Autobiography of Helen Keller by Helen Keller

    As a result of these two books I attempted to fill my children’s lives with wholesome books about people of extraordinary courage, bravery, imagination, and accomplishment. I scoured our library for these books and read them to my children every day.

    I especially valued true stories of children who stepped up in times of trial and danger and who did what was noble.

    I told them stories about our own brave ancestries.

    I reminded them that they were cut from the **same** spiritual cloth as these people and I had every confidence that they too would always do what was true, correct, brave, and courageous.

    Every morning and lunch as the children ate their meals, I read these stories to them. ( I ate later.) There were many times when we were so moved by what we were reading we would all be convulsed in laughter or in tears. These are some of our happiest memories as a family.

    Dr. Suzuki and Anne Sullivan ( Hellen’s teacher) were correct. If you fill your child’s life with people and experiences of excellent quality, these are the people they will become. This is what my adult children now are.

    Thank you Dr. Suzuki. Thank you Anne Sullivan.

  2. tdbwd says:

    The Autobiography of Helen Keller was very influential on my thinking, too. Another one well worth the read is Helen and Teacher by Joseph P. Lash. I’ll be picking up a copy of the Suzuki book — haven’t read that one yet. I would list the Helen Keller books as highly recommended for anyone who plans to homeschool.

    Tammy Drennan

  3. Frances says:

    I had not heard of Dr. Suzuki, but you have piqued my interest. Thanks for the tip.

    I think that a government education glorifies the mundane and mediocre. If you are exceptional, you are labeled “out of touch”. This has seeped into our churches too. But there are twin teenageres taking a stand against this. Alex and Brett Harris with their book Do Hard Things have really impressed me. I am saving it to give to my kids when they turn twelve.

    I prefer to read books about people that are different from me. I also like to read stories of people who are like me. Whether like me or not, I want books that have characters of courage, faithfulness, strength, endurance, graciousness, etc. Why fill the mind with characters that are punks and remain punks? If there are punks in the story, I want them to be transformed by the end.

  4. tdbwd says:


    Hear, hear!! Seems the popular idea is to read books about people who share your struggles and shortcomings, whether they overcome those problems or not. I want to read about people who have overcome — problems like my own, as well as ones unlike my own.


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