|FEBRUARY 1, 1989||VOLUME 1 NUMBER 1|
Did you know that after more than 11,000 hours of education most high school graduates cannot change the oil in a car engine, fix a leaky faucet, replace a blown fuse, or repair a broken lawn mower? Do you realize that most high school graduates do not know how to fill out a tax return, apply for a mortgage, manage a checkbook, or register to vote? Imagine, after more than 11,000 hours of classroom "learning," most high school graduates do not know where pencils come from, or how furniture is made. They do not know why the lights go on in a room when a switch is thrown. They have never even seen the insides of a radio or a television set, and could not repair any of the electronic equipment or simple appliances that they use every day.
Did you know that most high school graduates have no information about how to choose a compatible mate, a choice that for many people represents the single most important decision in life? Most high school graduates do not know how to choose a competent physician or a qualified dentist. They do not know anything about pregnancy or childbirth. In fact, most will end up attending special classes on these subjects long after it is too late to change their minds. After 11,000 hours of education, very few high school graduates know how to care for an infant or raise a child. They do not know how to tend to a sick family member or care for an aging parent.
We have concluded that our current educational system, born out of the same society that spawned slavery and opposed child labor laws, is rooted in madness.
Yes, this is modern education and we believe that the children of our society deserve something better. We believe that it is obviously unnatural and wrong to force children to sit in hard wooden chairs all day, isolated from the world which they long to know. We believe that it is harmful to fill children up with disconnected facts that have no meaning in their lives while denying them the practical skills which they need to function in the world everyday. Even useful subjects such as reading, writing, and math are taught out of context without any connection to reality, and forced on children at too early an age. We think that it is wrong to rob children of their dignity by intimidating and frightening them during their early school years. And, worst of all, we believe it is tragic to punish and humiliate them when they naturally resist this destructive system.
Great Education Moves is a newsletter designed to dispel the myths commonly associated with so-called "modern education." We have taken the liberty of sending you this newsletter because we thought that you might be interested in what we have to say. We represent an education and research project called the Gentle Wind School. For the past six years, we have studied the effects of modern education on American adults and teenagers. We have concluded that our current educational system, born out of the same society that opposed child labor laws, is rooted in madness. And we believe that the madness must be stopped.
The Gentle Wind School
The Gentle Wind School is a non-profit education and research corporation that was founded in 1983. From its inception, the Gentle Wind School has functioned as a service project with the single goal of improving the quality of human life. The majority of our staff are former educators and social workers, and a few others with backgrounds in hospital administration, retail store management, and publishing. Many of us graduated from our college and post-graduate programs with honors. None of us are high school drop-outs, nor do we have any children living at home whom we are trying to home-school. In short, we have no axe to grind. We are a group of psychotherapists and educators who were trying to find out something about the human mental apparatus. When we discovered that certain aspects of people's mental circuits were not working properly, we were led to look at the effects of education on people, particularly on their mental systems and circuits.
We began by studying certain mental and emotional problems commonly found among American adults and teenagers, including normal, stress-related symptoms. We developed programs to help alleviate some of these difficulties and to improve the quality of people's lives. In the course of our research, we discovered that many of the mental and emotional problems common to Americans are a direct result of the mistreatment and abuse that is inherent in the American educational system. Although some of the damage caused by modern education is irreversible and cannot be corrected in adults, we believe that it is possible to prevent serious mental and emotional harm to children by refusing to subject them to the current educational system.
Our research has led us to become advocates of home schooling. Although home schooling is not the only answer to the problem, it is the fastest and cheapest way to stop the madness of modern education. We have decided to publish some of our findings in a series of newsletters in the hope that some parents will recognize the harm being done to their children in school every day, and refuse to subject their children to this destruction. Further, we hope to provide support for those parents who, for whatever reason, have decided to teach their children at home. We believe that parents today can literally change the world.
As you read and review some of our findings, it may be helpful to remember that the current educational system was designed by clergy and industrialists of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, who were looking for young factory workers to work in the mills. These were the same people who opposed child labor laws, advocated slavery, burned midwives as witches and burned so-called heretics at the stake both in Europe and the United States. Although a few well-meaning educators and administrators have tried, through the years, to alter the original design of this system, it has essentially remained intact.
In the course of our research, we discovered that leading a satisfying and productive life was directly related to an individual's feeling of personal competence and ability to function in the world. People must know how to do things like balance a checkbook, apply for a mortgage, choose a compatible mate, and raise a child. They need to know how to fix things like a leaky faucet, a flat tire, or a broken lamp, toaster or television set. To feel competent, people need real skills. They need to know how to build a house, install plumbing and wiring, make their own furniture, build boats, and repair car engines. When people cannot do these things, they get disconnected from reality. No matter how many college degrees they accumulate, they are incompetent to live in the everyday world. They are at the mercy of their environment, which produces chronic mental and emotional distress, whether people are aware of it or not.
Schools render children incompetent by refusing to teach them the things that people need to know in order to live satisfying lives. We spent several years teaching everyday practical skills to ourselves and to a group of participants in this project. Adults, who for the most part had very few real skills, although many had college degrees, were taught how to build houses, repair cars, install plumbing and wiring, build boats, construct furniture, build and repair radios, and a wide variety of other skills. In every case, gaining competence in the world was always consistent with an increased sense of personal well-being.
Contributing to Society
We also discovered that in order for people to feel that their lives are productive, they must feel that they are making a significant contribution to their society. Again, people must have the skills to make such a contribution. Some people can accomplish this by building something of functional value such as a road, a house, a barn, or a bridge. Others can accomplish this by doing service work of some kind such as caring for the sick, the elderly, or the homeless. Contributing to one's favorite charity every Christmas is not enough. It is especially not enough in a world that is so burdened with human suffering, and where there are so few who are willing to help alleviate it. How many American teenagers and children would be using drugs if they had real skills and could make real contributions to the world?
Education refuses to supply people with the skills that they need to contribute to their society. The few who are able to build and construct things of real value are often the ones who are treated like failures and losers by the educational system. Stripped of their dignity, they are often unable to see that their contributions are significant and very valuable.
How many American teenagers and children would be using drugs if they had real skills and could make real contributions to society?
Schools also teach people to believe that personal, individual success at the expense of other people is the most important thing in life. Children are not taught to share what they know and to help one another learn. They are taught to horde information, cheat if necessary, and do whatever else is required to stay on top. Most of corporate America and Wall Street function on this idea every day.
The idea of personal, individual success at the expense of others defies nature. Obvious reality demonstrates the fact that people feel good when they are able to help others in need. The survival of the human race depends on this natural instinct. Yet, after a few years of education, children lose sight of this natural instinct. They grow up without any awareness of others in need and without any inclination to help in a world that desperately needs their resources. We believe that, in this area, education has not only robbed people of the possibility of leading a productive life and contributing to society, but it has also set in motion an idea system that does not insure the survival of the human race and causes people to do harm to one another.
Everyone in our project was required to find some way of contributing to society. In fact, anyone who was not willing to do service work of some kind was not accepted into this research program. Some participants cared for the elderly. Others worked in soup kitchens for the homeless, and in residential facilities for brain damaged and physically disabled children. Throughout our research, doing service work was also a significant factor in establishing and maintaining any sense of personal well-being. Mother Theresa and her followers do not have time to abuse drugs or become alcoholics, nor do they need stress management seminars every week.
Thirdly, we discovered that leading a productive, satisfying life was directly related to a person's ability to act in his or her own best interest. In order to act on behalf of themselves, people need to know how they feel and what they like and do not like. They need to know something about what makes them happy and something about what they need out of life in order to thrive. Most adults in American society cannot identify these things in themselves. In fact, most children who are subjected to the current educational system for even a short time, cannot either.
Schools disconnect people from their natural feelings, interests, likes, dislikes, and needs. Most children do not want to go to school. They do not like sitting in a hard wooden chair all day surrounded by green cement, asphalt, and fluorescent lights. They do not like being separated from their parents and friends, and the things they like to do. They do not like being forced to study subjects that have no meaning in their lives. The natural, healthy response to school on the part of almost any child would be to try to get out and get away. In order to keep children from acting on these natural impulses, teachers threaten, humiliate, and punish children anytime they exhibit such a natural response. In a very short time, children become disconnected from what they like, want, need, and feel. School is obviously not in their best interest. The adult world is telling them that they must act against themselves or suffer the consequences.
After twelve or more years of acting against themselves, people do not know how to act in their own behalf. Because people do not act on behalf of themselves, they live and work in high-rise buildings, crammed into polluted cities, under fluorescent lights and without air to breathe. They marry people they do not even like or have children they do not want. They work at jobs they hate for people they do not respect. Schools have taught people to act against their own inner well-being, to defy their own natural instincts, and to do what they are told. As a result, we live in a society that needs stress clinics and stress seminars run by people who themselves live in unnatural stress.
Finally, we have concluded that modern education causes irreversible mental harm to all children whether they are academic superstars or school failures or somewhere in-between. All school subjects are taught out of context, without any application or connection with everyday reality. Children are asked to memorize huge quantities of facts, which, in most cases, will never be used in the course of their lives. Even useful subjects such as reading, writing, and math are forced on children out of context and at too early an age, long before their natural systems are ready to learn them.
All school subjects are taught out of context, without any application or connection to everyday reality.
In this system, children are disconnected from what can best be described as natural, logical occurrence. All things in nature, including people, progress through life according to a series of natural steps or occurrences. For example, babies learn to pick up their heads, sit up, crawl, walk, and talk in a logical, natural order. Babies do not talk and walk at three months and then learn to crawl at the age of two. Their physical, mental, and emotional abilities are governed by a system of logical development.
When children are five years old, entering school and classroom is not a proper step in their natural developmental system. Children at this age need to be involved in the physical world, touching things and making things with their hands. They are not ready for the mental world of reading, writing, and math until they are eight or nine years old.
When children reach the ages of eight or nine, they still require physical world involvement but they have then developed the proper mental apparatus for dealing with these subjects. However, in order to maintain their own systems of natural, logical occurrence, these subjects must be presented in context and must be directly related to the child's life. Mathematics, for example, should not be taught as a fragmented numbers exercise that has no connection to the everyday world. Math is essential in building construction. To understand math, children need to be able to learn it while they are building a boat or a shed. Otherwise, math has no logical place in everyday reality. It is just another set of disconnected, fragmented facts, ripped out of context.
When people are disassociated from their own systems of natural, logical occurrence during their childhood years, they lose their ability to relate to obvious reality. They lose their ability to see that if people dump toxic waste into the ocean, the oceans will become contaminated. If they continue to pollute the air, one day the air will become too toxic to breathe. Because people in high government positions have been to school, they cannot make this logical connection with reality. As a result, no one is doing anything to save our oceans or our air supply. The children being educated in class rooms today, who will one day have to lead this nation, will be even less able to relate to reality and to natural, logical occurrence than people are today.
Even useful subjects such as reading, writing, and math are forced on children out of context and at too early an age, long before their natural systems are ready to learn them.
Furthermore, when children try to question why subjects like history or geography are being taught to them, or when they question the fact that these subjects have no meaning to them in their lives, they are told various fabricated stories by their teachers--the ones in authority-about how these subjects will one day be useful to them. Parents also lie to their children about school. For example, Susie Smith, a second grader, says to her mother. "My teacher, Mrs. Green, is mean and does not like kids." Susie's mother has met Mrs. Green and found her to be a very negative person and maybe even deranged. But Mom says to Susie, "Mrs. Green is not a mean person who hates kids, she is a teacher and teachers like children."
After a few years of being lied to by both parents and teachers about what is going on in school, children begin to deny what they see and hear when it contradicts what they are being told. They accept words (not actions) as being the truth. When they grow up, they do not know when the media or government officials are lying or when they are telling the truth. They easily accept the idea that Ronald Reagan is the "Great Communicator," even though he can barely speak in coherent sentences when questioned in spontaneous interviews. Oliver North, who lied to everyone in this nation at a series of congressional hearings, is still thought of by some people as a national hero. Michael Dukakis got away with the "Massachusetts Miracle," when in reality, most of the improvements in the Massachusetts economy had nothing to do with him.
When people accept words rather than actions as the truth, people cannot tell a liberal candidate from a conservative one. Our most recently elected President, who won his office as an arch conservative, will probably prove to be the most liberal President since Franklin Roosevelt.
This is not intended to be a political discussion. We believe that both George Bush and Michael Dukakis have the ability to lead this nation, each for different reasons. The point here is that when parents and teachers--people in authority--lie to children about what is going on in school, children learn to accept being lied to as a normal way of life. They stop trusting what they see and hear, until they can no longer determine fact from fiction.
Children are not only forced to start school when they are too young, but they are then treated like babies right up through their high school years. Men who are old enough to fight and die for their country need a note from their mother when they are late for school. Women who are old enough to bear children of their own need a pass from the teacher to go to the bathroom.
Furthermore, when children try to question why subjects like history or geography are being taught to them, or when they question the fact that these subjects have no meaning to them in their lives, they are told various fabricated stories by their teachers - the ones in authority - about how these subjects will one day be useful to them. This system continues even though research shows that after a short time most students have almost no recall of the subjects and in many cases have developed an aversion to the whole subject area.
No place in reality, except perhaps in a maximum security prison, are people treated the way that schools treat children and teenagers. If your child had a few friends over to play, you would not issue them a pass every time they had to go to the bathroom. If you arrive at work ten minutes late, your boss does not ask you to present a note from your mother.
Parents leave their children with twelve- and thirteen-year-old babysitters with complete confidence. Yet, when those twelve- and thirteen-year-olds go to school, they are treated like infants. Just when children are ready to launch themselves into adulthood, schools launch them right back into childhood. When schools refuse to allow children to launch themselves into adult life when they are ready to do so, children are left with the feeling that something is wrong with them--that there is something they are incapable of doing. Parents and educators make matters worse by criticizing teenagers for acting like irresponsible babies. No one is looking at the fact that teenagers spend their days in a disturbed educational environment that refuses to let them grow up.
For twelve years, children and young adults from first through twelfth grade have no say about anything that they do in school. The only choice they have is in what club they might want to join. Students have no control over what courses they take, when they take them, who teaches those courses, or where the courses are held. They have no say in how the material is presented or how much material they want to learn at any given time. In short, their "vote" does not count.
Political writers complain that Americans do not turn out for elections anymore. They call it voter apathy. But we believe that this "voter apathy" is a direct result of twelve years of training in a public institution in which children are told every day, by the way that they are treated, that their vote does not count.
The Legacy of Damage; Protecting the System
Most people know in their hearts that there is something very wrong with schools. Most people can remember the punishment, humiliation, and cruelties of classroom life. They can remember staring at the clock waiting for the bell to ring to release them from their imprisonment. Many parents can clearly see that their children lost their spark, their spunk, and their natural interest in life after attending school for only a short time. Yet the never-ending nightmare of education continues. It continues because human beings always protect the ones who abuse them, in the way that abused children protect their abusive parents and battered wives protect their violent husbands. No one wants to blow the whistle on abusive teachers, intentional or not, functioning in an abusive system.
People tend to pass on any forms of abuse that have been inflicted on them. The college fraternity men who survive a humiliating and abusive hazing believe that they have earned the right to inflict equal or greater punishment on the next year's class. Parents who were themselves abused as children are far more likely to inflict a similar form of cruelty on their children. The fact that some of us survived twelve or more years of education does not mean that we survived undamaged, nor does it give anyone the right to inflict this same form of abuse on children today. Somewhere, the chain of destruction must stop. We are suggesting that it should stop here and now.
The American Free School System
We prefer to call the home schooling movement the American Free School System. In the course of our research, we discovered that certain words have meanings beyond their original intended definition. Home Schooling registers in the consciousness as home-made. Homemade for many people means inferior. Factory-made is better than home-made. Factory-made children are better than home-made.
Some might argue that home-made in certain cases results in superior quality such as home-made bread. Although this might be true; home-made for most people still means inferior. Some restaurants advertise themselves as offering home-made food as a way of attracting customers. But the really expensive, top-of-the-line restaurants would never claim to offer home-made food because home-made means inferior.
The American Free School System means something very good to the human consciousness. American means "the land of opportunity," the flag, our founding fathers; Free means something for nothing; freedom and liberty and school system equals a good place where children can learn (meanings do not decide the truth of something.) All studies so far indicate that home schooling is a far superior form of educating children than any public or private school. We just think that the name of the home schooling movement should more accurately convey this fact.
There are very few parents in America today who are not qualified to teach their children at home as a part of the American Free School System. We would suggest that even the most minimal effort at home-based education could easily surpass the inadequate education being offered to children in today's schools--and the home-based children will not have to bear the burdens of permanent damage. There are those who would say that many home environments are chaotic and unstable, and surely the children of these homes would be better off in school. To them we would say that very few home environments could match the neglect and abuse inherent in the structure of modern education. Parents would have to abuse their children constantly for five to seven hours straight every day to equal the abuse of classroom life. Even the most deranged parents can rarely keep up such a pace.
We recognize the fact that some parents cannot afford to stay at home teaching their children. Other parents who themselves have been bankrupted by education do not have the resources necessary to invest in the education of a child. Some parents are just too disinterested in their children to spend that much time with them.
However, there are parents who do have the resources and the ability to educate children at home. Many of these parents could easily take another child under his or her wing, and enjoy the challenge of doing so. Very few children have to be in school.
If all the parents who could educate children at home would step forth and spread their wings, very few children would have to be exposed to the educational system. The numbers would be so small that the system would have to change to meet their individual needs. Taxpayers would be relieved of an enormous financial burden. Home schooling is free. Right now taxpayers are investing billions of dollars into the destruction of children. If every town and city in America set up a resource room for home schoolers, with computers that could access major libraries, and resource people to help parents and students use the equipment, the academic results would be far superior to what taxpayers are funding now, and at only a fraction of the cost. Furthermore, children could escape the damage and harm caused by current educational practices, which would result in an enormous improvement in the quality of American life.
Loss of Dignity
Modern education has failed humanity. It has rendered people incompetent to function in the world, and it has managed to turn even people of goodwill into selfish, self-promoting, aimless human beings. It has cut people off from themselves so that people can no longer identify what they need, what they want, or what makes them happy. But most tragic of all, modern education has stripped Americans of their dignity, and it cannot be recovered.
When children enter kindergarten or first grade before the age of eight-and-a-half or nine, they are not ready for the kind of mental information being forced on them in the classroom. Children, before the ages of eight and-a-half or nine, long to be involved in the physical world. They need to be physically active building things and making things out of such materials as wood, clay, and metal. Sitting in a hard wooden chair all day long and memorizing disconnected facts is the wrong thing for them to do because their energy needs to be channeled into the physical world. Before the ages of eight-and-a-half or nine, children naturally resist the confinement and the mental activity of school. Therefore, fear and intimidation are needed to break down children's healthy resistances and make them conform to the system. In the process of frightening and threatening children, teachers strip away their dignity.
If educators waited until children were eight-and a-half to ten years old before introducing them to school, and if educators took the time to find out what each child was personally interested in doing, then children would not have to be frightened and intimidated. By the time children are eight-and-a-half to ten years old, they are ready for mental kinds of activity. In fact, they yearn to know how to read and write. They are hungry to learn and would not need to be coerced into doing so.
Sending a five-year-old to school is like sending an eight-year-old girl up to the altar to be married. Eight-year olds are not ready to get married. They have other things that they need to do before they can develop a natural interest in marriage. She will have to be coerced and maybe physically forced up to the altar because getting married at the age of eight is the wrong thing for her to do. However, when she is twenty-eight, and assuming she finds someone she wants to marry, she will gladly walk to the altar. In fact. she will probably not tolerate anyone standing in her way.
By the time children are eight-and-a-half to ten years old, they are ready for the mental activity of school. Further, they are well "defined," so it is nearly impossible for them to be redefined by someone outside of themselves. Grades introduce a destructive form of negativity into a child's definition of himself which is not necessary to introduce. However, school systems are built on the old philosophy of, "Spare the rod, spoil the child." The underpinning of the entire American education system is, "Spare the public humiliation, spare the intimidation and grading, and you will spoil the child." This is the unwritten, secret law upon which all school systems are based.
This idea came out of certain childrearing beliefs of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Today, parents and teachers believe that if children are not humiliated, threatened, and graded, they will grow up to be drug addicts, alcoholics, murderers, or child abusers. They fear that children will become liars or wife-beaters, or will cheat on their income taxes, if they are not threatened and graded everyday. Educators know for certain that without this malignant treatment, children could grow up to be traffic violators, thieves, price-gouging business owners, dishonest politicians, brawlers, poachers, polluters, and legal or medical practitioners, who only want to make money off the woes and ills of other people.
The underpinning of the entire American education system is, "Spare the public humiliation, spare the intimidation and grading, and you will spoil the child." This is the unwritten, secret law upon which all school systems are based.
The problem with this secret law is that children in America are growing up to become drug addicts, liars, cheaters, alcoholics, and child abusers anyway. So, the system is not working, but no one has figured that out yet. The real law seems to be that if you want to spoil (ruin) a child, then you must: 1) threaten him, 2) humiliate him, and 3) grade him. Following this law, children can be ruined for life. Educators think that they can strip children of their dignity everyday for twelve years and then hand it back to them with a high school diploma. It cannot be done. It is too little, too late. All the diploma means to young adults is that they are free from prison. But, like any former concentration camp inmate, they are not without scars.
We believe that the foundation of education must be the individual needs of each child. Someone must take the time to find out what each child needs and how to best provide that child with an education that will help him thrive. A system founded on anything else will always destroy children because it will fail to see them as unique, individual human beings with individual interests, needs, and goals.
No one knows about the individual needs of a child better than his or her parents, which is why we have become advocates of home schooling. Because parents know something about the individual needs of their children, there are very few children who will not thrive in home-bound schools. Even the most deranged evangelicals and political activists with their own axes to grind know better what their individual children need and how to best provide an education for them.