Episode-76- TSP Rewind – What Might a Free Market Education System Look Like — 1 Comment

  1. Jack, I basically support your idea. Here’s some data for you from my experience:

    I went to a private nursery school in Albany, CA. Very cool experience.

    I started public school in Richmond. My first grade teacher one day gave us all a blue duplicated page (called “dittos”) with a big picture of an apple on it. She told us to fill the apple in with a red crayon using linear strokes. I thought circular strokes would look nicer. I “flunked” that lesson!

    After that I went mostly to schools serving the upper middle class and got a pretty good “education.” However, as a high school graduate, I knew very little about law, business, politics, human relations and numerous other realities of life.

    In 1972, the year I graduated high school, I read a book called “Deschooling Society” written by Ivan Illich in 1971. He was proposing a “learning web” approach to education. It was quite free-market oriented. He had been working in Puerto Rico, and later Mexico, where the predations of wealth-seeking criminal groups were more severe than they had been in the US up to that time.

    What I have learned since I left public schools has been much more valuable to me in the long run than what I learned while attending public schools. Here are some points I feel are important:

    It is in many ways quite true that the child is basically an adult with a small body. Many children will actually already be familiar with the subjects you are trying to teach them; you just have to re-orient them to those subjects, then let them come back up to speed on them.

    There is a tendency in analyzing human systems, or figuring out how to fix them, to undervalue or even ignore the aspect of evil or vicious intent, even though it obviously exists in society. A person with good intent can take a broken system and make it produce good results. A person of evil intent can take a working system and make it produce terrible results, including loss of popular support – which the system had when it was working!

    I believe this is an important factor in many “modern” as well as historical problems. We can make almost any system work, if it includes a reliable way to exclude persons of bad intent from taking control of it.

    Meanwhile, people of good intent, in the face of the challenges of a space-age society, have marched forward and discovered better ways to teach and learn. While computer-based instruction has decreased costs to the point that many such courses are offered free, classrooms still have their place. My church delivers courses in classrooms, but each student is on his own “checksheet” studying a subject that interests him or is her next step in a longer program. A course supervisor can handle 20 or more students this way, each of them on a different course! In another room, “Practical,” they get to drill with each other on the doingness skills in their courses. And of course if we were teaching art or acting or car repair, we would need a studio, a theater and a repair shop for students to practice in.

    While schools provide spaces far enough away from real life to allow learning – and making mistakes – to take place, they have also historically served to maintain a classed society, which is really a wrong use for them.

    To me, the most important thing to understand about freedom is to find out what is trapping you, and what you can do to untrap yourself. Freedom and ability are relative to the game being played. I don’t need the freedom and ability to fly to Mars if I’m fine with living on Earth. But if I really would like to try out Mars instead, then I will seek that level of freedom and ability. Will the state assist me or prevent me from reaching for my dream? That’s the big question of these times.