Thursday, January 3, 2019

What If Everything We Know About Education is Wrong?

We saw a kid performing handstands on the sidewalk as the bus took us to the Delhi Garden of Five Senses, and one of the women in the party mourned that the kid was not in school.

Yes, I know we are all supposed to believe that kids in government school are the best thing since sliced bread. But is it?

We know, for instance, that throughout the 19th century Europe literacy increased enormously, and it isn't clear to me that government schools were the reason. And female literacy was about a generation behind male literacy.

In addition, I understand, parents stopped sending their kids out to work once they didn't need the wages for food.

But we all believe -- and that means especially that women believe -- that all kids should be in school throughout childhood.

I don't think so. I suspect that we would do much better dumping the responsibility for their children's education on the parents.

What about this idea? We repeal all child labor laws; we close all the government schools. What would happen?

My question is this. If corporations started employing children again, would they revive the apprenticeship system? Would they educate the children in their charge?

The simple answer is: We Don't Know.

But we do know that when a foundation took computer tablets to an Ethiopian village, the kids had the tablets charged while the adults were congratulating each other, were singing the ABC song in two weeks, and had hacked the tablet to re-enable the camera within six months.

We do know that every girl in the world desperately needs to be literate enough to compete in the social media world of smartphones, and the boys need to be literate enough to master video games like Minecraft.

Maybe they can only really do this in school. But maybe not. Maybe if we evil geniuses figure out how to grab their attention, maybe we can get kids literate, numerate, market-aware, etc., without the trillion dollar a year expense of government education.

Of course, I understand the allure of free stuff. Free education: Yay! And maybe we should have a free system, just on principle, to keep the slaves to free-stuff happy

But I think the future requires getting away from the government model, and demands an education that responds to the needs of parents that want the best for their children and corporations that want good productive employees in their future.

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