02 August 2017

Are schools bad for people?

Winston Churchill
c. 1898
How I hated this school, and what a life of anxiety I lived there for more than two years. [...] I counted the days and the hours to the end of every term, when I should return home from this hateful servitude [...] (Winston Churchill, My Early Life)
‘Education’ is nowadays universally assumed to be a good thing. At the same time there is a sense in which it is accepted that most children would prefer not to go to school, and that many of them strongly dislike having to do so. Yet it is rarely concluded that school might be bad for people.

Until education became compulsory, there may have been schools, formal or informal, but young people could stay away from them if they did not feel like going. In Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, for example, only one of a family of four girls goes to school, and that is only temporary, since her mother takes her away when she is badly treated.

These days many people would like to think that education can eliminate differences between individuals arising from genetic factors or early upbringing. Therefore schools cannot be regarded as intrinsically a bad thing, since they are supposed to bring about a desirable situation — equality of outcome.

If someone had a bad time at school, such a person may say that it was the wrong kind of school. Someone who had a bad time at a fee-paying school may say he or she would have done better at a state school, and vice versa.

Plato said that knowledge that is acquired by compulsion obtains no hold on the mind. *

There are people who tell you that they got nothing out of some book or author which they read at school, but long after, maybe twenty years or more later, they thought of trying it again and found they liked it and got a great deal out of it.

I know someone who used to ask herself while walking to school, why she was doing this. Her answer was, in order to keep her parents out of trouble.

* The Republic, Book VII.

I appeal for financial and moral support in improving my position.
I need people to provide moral support both for fund-raising, and as temporary or possibly long-term workers. Those interested should read my post on interns.