Lacey Smith

My solution for formal education

In Education on December 19, 2011 at 12:00 pm

The last three blogs I posted talked about my dislike for our formal education system. The longer I wrote, the more strongly I felt like it is a major problem and one we don’t really recognize. We all know the system is flawed and even broken, but few recognize the extent of damage it’s causing.

The good news is, I don’t just have problems in my head. I also have solutions.

In the simplest terms, my solutions is this: reject the system. In other words, self-educate.

For elementary school age students, this may mean home school. For junior and senior high school kids, it means evaluating schooling options and maybe home school or maybe private or public school – with heavy parental involvement in the curriculum.

For college, it means do or don’t, but don’t do just because it’s what you’re “supposed to” do. If you do chose college, go because you have a degree in  mind that’s going to help you get a good job and go to a good school that won’t cost you as much as a small house every semester.

For post-college adults, it means never stop learning.

Glenn Beck, a man many suggest is crazy (and he probably is), is someone who I respect as a fairly successful and well-educated person. He jokes that he has the library of a serial killer, meaning he has everything on his shelves from the Federalist Papers to Mein Kampf to the Communist Manifesto.

He says after he left college (there will be no reference to the choice to leave college as “dropping out”) he put together his library by picking up books based on who would fight the most, or which authors would disagree with each other most.

This is one approach, though not the only one.

My mother has a perhaps psychotic interest in pop psychology books. She picks up book after book on relationships and psychology. If the government would let her practice, my mother would make an excellent marriage and family counselor. She is all self-taught.

That’s not her only self-educated skill, though, as all the neighbors come to her for basic alternative medical needs as well. I lovingly call her the local witch doctor.

With all the information readily available and free, we should be the best-educated people in all of history. Everyone one of us should be specialists in whatever interests us right now and that should be on top of a thorough and well-rounded liberal arts education.

Instead, I think we are one of the most poorly educated peoples ever.

The solution is to change our attitudes about education. We must self-educate and teach our kids to do the same. Even within the public school it’s possible (although much, much harder).

I was mostly home schooled and it was the best gift my parents could’ve given me.

Mom says she thinks she kind of failed us in the “academics” part of our education, and on some levels that’s true, but I know she succeeded in the most important part – she taught me how to teach myself.

Our house was (and it still is) the perfect example of a education-focused home. Although small, my parents crammed it full of educational materials.

There were (are) bookcases everywhere, filled with encyclopedias, Founders’ writings, religious books, medical, scientific and mathematical information and so much more. In fact, at one point there were bookcases in nearly every room of the house including one of the bathrooms.

Our home was filled with learning and I was taught how to teach myself. That’s what we’ve got to do.

Self-education, a degree from the University of You, is the best education. It takes work, but it’s absolutely worth it.

No one said the solution was easy, but it is simple. Reject the notion that public school teach you. You teach you, even at a formal place of education. There’s no other way.

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