Some people criticize the current educational system saying that it does not fulfill its role of preparing children for a successful life in our society. They think schools fail because, after years of teaching, the kids leave for college without much to show other than memorizing useless facts, formulas, and dates, things they will never need.
But I believe that our educational system is a success. It fulfills its function very well. That is why it has been there for so long, receiving additional funds and support each year from politicians and companies that control our society.
The function of the educational system is not to educate or qualify children. According to philosopher Daniel Quinn, one of the main functions of our schools is to keep young people out of the job market for as long as possible. Instead of allowing the kids to start experimenting with what could be their future profession at 14 or 15 years old, the system keeps these young people as consumers, learning about the periodic table while spending billions of dollars of their parents’ money. “Imagine what would happen to our economy if, all of a sudden, high schools closed their doors,” says Quinn. “Instead of having fifty million active consumers out there, we would suddenly have fifty million young people out of work. It would be an economic catastrophe.” The economy can’t stand them doing something useful with their life.
What we see as the school system’s flaws is a well-thought part of the system.
If I wanted to make a child believe that her job will be more important than her own family, so she could later see leaving her family for five days a week as normal, I would get them out of their house every morning since they were five, whether they wanted to or not. And it doesn’t matter if they are leaving the house just to learn the name of the colors or the animals – something they will learn even while staying at home. The objective isn’t to educate but to separate them from their dear loved ones until they see it as normal.
If I wanted to create a society that promoted competitiveness instead of cooperation, I would punish children who helped their friends with difficulties on tests; I would develop categories like valedictorian, honor roll…, making each person’s position clear on a hierarchy, so kids were encouraged to seek status and to compete instead of learning and collaborating together.
I used to think that the counselor at school knew more than I did regarding my own kid’s needs; I thought that the government or the school principal knew the ideal curriculum for someone who would be a professional ten years from now. But actually, what I was doing was just getting rid of the responsibility of educating my own children. What was behind my idea of outsourcing them to a school was the fact that, if anything went wrong, I could say that I did my best: I’ve sent them to expensive schools, and I paid for tutoring and prep courses. But now, I feel I wasn’t doing my best. I’m learning that my children’s education is too important for me to outsource to the government, a school principal, a teacher, the internet, or anyone else. And that, as much as schools and teachers have good intentions, my kids are not their children, and they are only there professionally. That makes a lot of difference. The responsibility is mine to own and, even more so, belongs to them.
I now know that if I ever thought I was not competent to educate my own children, I should have questioned the system that made me believe in it.