The problem with compulsory public schooling is most kids don’t want to be there. It’s really just taxpayer daycare while parents are busy at work. My whole youth I remember two dominant emotions most people had for school: boredom and contempt.
I remember well the textbooks we were issued, that must have cost 200 dollars apiece and each of them was trashed and filled with the lewd graffiti scribbles of a captive audience. Nobody trashes resources they care about and respect.
In a properly run state, the people have a sense of awe and respect at all levels and the way public daycare works now gives its inmates 18 long years of instruction in official incompetence, undermining the credibility of the ruling order for anyone inclined to think for themselves.
The first step would be to stop making school compulsory. One of the best and most reliable ways to earn contempt in this world is to keep giving people nice things they haven’t earned, even after they spurn your offerings. They learn you’re an easy mark—that they can take a steaming dump on your face and won’t get called out. The parents learn they can just forget about their kids for 18 years using taxpayer nannies and the kids learn that no matter what they do, they’re stuck there getting thousands of dollars spent on them every year.
Society has forgotten that school is for those who want to learn and the needs of those who learn best come first.
All through my youth in public schools even the most competent teachers struggled against the dead weight of students who were forced to be there. These students weren’t interested to begin with, but being forced encouraged them to passively aggressively disrupt classes for everyone else.
Teachers could have found ways to mitigate this if the system had backed them up, but instead the bureaucracy forced them to teach to the lowest common denominator, a decent strategy for an ant colony perhaps, but not the way to success for a civilization.
The purpose of schools is to teach willing, sufficiently talented students. People who don’t want to study have no business being students. That’s all.
I look back on my first 18 years of school and ask myself “In all that massive investment of time and taxpayer money, what did they teach that I’ve actually used in the real world?”
I could think of two things everyone needs to know for basic participation in society that school teaches, if we don’t learn at home.
That’s all most people will need or ever want to know.
And a decent proportion at the bottom of aptitude will never learn even these very well.
So I would posit that we could still have a compulsory workshop on the public dime, a year worth of classes or so spread out over a few years of life perhaps where everyone still gets taught to read, write, and perform basic mathematical operations. Before public schools, a few months of school here and there when not needed on the farm seemed to get the job done for most people. Those kids that like it and can handle the basics can then go to school.
For the rest, maybe we still have state daycare just to prevent the emergence of child gangs roving the streets, but there would be no more confusion. It would be called what it is. The kids there wouldn’t go to classes. They’d get movies, lunches, maybe some activities. No one will consider that 14 year old that still goes to daycare a student. They’d just be children, no higher ranked than 1st graders. It would still be a bullshit waste of millions of people’s time but still better than what we do now: almost 2 decades of make-believe.
This distinction would be important, because all taxpayers would pay for real schools, just like we all pay for roads and the military. However, those who want to use public daycare would pay all the taxes for it, so they can’t just waste everyone else’s time and money.
A better way I think, would be to keep children busy even if they don’t go to school. They might learn and practice work-related skills until they reach minimum working age and can go out and get a job. Most 10 year olds would be better off learning how to type fast, mop a floor, cook the perfect burger, use microsoft office, or how to use basic tools rather than learning earth science or “social studies.” They’d be better off by age 15 than millions of 20-somethings coming out of college with 0 experience and unemployable degrees.
I thought of a lowering in working age so kids could join the job market earlier but it quickly occurred to me that jobs are already scarce in a post-industrial economy and one of the functions of public schools is to delay the entry of young people into the job market. Even colleges serve to relieve pressure on older workers and give warm bodies a way to stay on the shelf until the economy actually needs them. One of the ironies of our entire modern lifestyle is how we destroy huge amounts of youthful productivity and wealth on a big ceremonial pyre for the sake of wealth production and call it the best system on earth, the best of all possible systems.
So, really, our underlying problem is the hollowness of The Economy as God. With no higher purpose or mission, we struggle along aimlessly applying flimsy bandaids or even eating our young to keep the status quo superficially intact. The truth is modern labor has become so productive that we don’t need to work that much but The Economy requires that every adult seems busy in a way that shows up on the balance sheets. It would be much harder to maintain the illusion were we to abolish the public daycare system and return education to its rightful place in society.
Millions of kids would go home and maybe some millions of adults would realize it’s more profitable just to stay home with the kids than pay for daycare, relieving more pressure on the job market than locking up teenagers ever did.
Millions more kids might spend their formative years learning how to be successful workers rather than learning boring facts about the Earth’s core or the Founding Fathers that they will soon forget.
Millions more kids with even a bit of brains and curiosity would be sent by their parents to school where they would learn a broad range of knowledge without constant disruption.
Because non-students would be filtered out, public schools would have a reasonable baseline of quality anywhere you go. Middle caste and above would no longer be forced into just a few crowded neighborhoods with “good school districts” where all the money that would have nurtured children goes into the mortgage instead. Those starting out their lives among the lower castes would get a chance to rise.