Can We Handle Freedom of Education?

June 23, 2008

by Tammy Drennan


One thing that must happen on the road to freedom from state schooling is a complete redefinition of education. There is no choice. What we have now is an artificial construct designed and evolved for the purpose of state institutionalization and bondage.


The big question is: Are we up to it? Are we smart enough, creative enough, courageous enough?


It will take all three of these characteristics in large doses to pull off the coup. Decades of state schooling have robbed us of big portions of our intelligence, creativity and courage.


We teach down to kids because we’ve been taught down to and have not found the means or will or need to make up for it. We fail to consider the plethora of possibilities because we’ve spent years having our brains dulled in drab classrooms full of boring textbooks. And we’ve been cowed by the authority of state schooling and laws until we’re scared to death to veer too far off the path they’ve pounded for us.


This, then, is the burden we must shed. If we do not shed it, we will simply recreate the public school system in the private sector. We will be freer in body but no freer in mind. We will fail to secure the true purposes of education: wisdom, independence, self-definition, progress, hope.


So, how do we do it? Here are some steps we can take as individuals and even as groups:


SMARTNESS. Read widely and deeply. Read about things that don’t usually interest you. Today we also have much video and audio available to us for furthering our education (just keep in mind that it’s often much more shallow than what you’ll learn from books). While all of this doesn’t seem directly related to taking back schooling from the state, it really is. We (at least a significant number of us) need to be better equipped intellectually than the people we’re divesting of our children’s schooling.


A helpful resource: The Teaching Company courses [link] on audio and video (note: they have tons of great courses, but I’ve found their religion courses disappointing. Only buy on sale: they run them all the time and you save caboodles of money).


CREATIVITY. Read about people who have educated themselves and their children. Read about all the ways education has happened throughout our history. Read books by people who have broken the education mold (i.e., John Gatto, John Holt). Think hard about all the ways people have gained the education important to their lives.


A helpful resource: Education Conversation’s What is Education? [link] page.


COURAGE. I think that courage takes a little righteous indignation to keep it lit. What right does the state have to tell a free people what they should know and what they need not know? What right does the state have to define your life by defining what goes into your mind for thirteen years? What right does the state have to your children? It should make you angry to think that we’ve strayed so far from the principles of liberty.


Some helpful resources: Read the Declaration of Independence [link] and Patrick Henry’s Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death [link] speech and Common Sense [link] by Thomas Paine.


I know we’re up to the task, but I also know we have serious improvements to make in ourselves in order to create not just independence but excellence.


The good news is that the process of improving is invigorating and full of hope – and we can do it even as we practice freedom.


How about some of your best resources for improving our minds, creativity and courage in an effort to fortify ourselves to take education back from the state, to make it meaningful again, and to keep it?