Gentle Wind School Newsletters
 1990? REBOUND Volume 1 

Modern Education: A Sinking Ship

All research evidence, including the research which educators have done on themselves, points to the fact that this nation's educational system has failed. But this is not news. Educators and politicians from as far back as the 17th and 18th centuries knew that the school systems throughout this society were failing to meet their own goals and objectives and that children were being harmed as well. Educators knew early on that many children were having trouble relating to the abstract data that was being presented to them in the classroom. Their own research done in the 18th century showed that rote memorization discouraged creative thinking; that rote memorization was an ineffective way to communicate knowledge; and that human beings only learn through personal, practical, direct experiences. All of this information was ignored. Educators went right on introducing abstract subject matter and forcing children to memorize unrelated data bits, even though they knew that this was the wrong thing to do.

Research done in the late 19th century clearly showed that training done in one subject was not likely to lead to improved performance in another subject unless there was a clear connection and similarity between the two subjects. This meant that, in spite of the claims of educators, learning Latin, for example, did not improve anyone's English. This meant that teaching children isolated mathematical concepts which have been taken out of context does not teach children how to balance a checkbook, make out a budget or apply mathematics to building and construction. The only way that children learn how to use mathematics to balance a checkbook is by having a checkbook and being shown directly how to balance the funds in the checkbook using mathematical principles. Similarly, children only learn to use mathematics in house construction in the process of building a house. Although educators and politicians knew these things, they went right on forcing children to memorize abstract subject matter without ever taking the time to show children how subjects such as mathematics are used in everyday, practical reality.

At this same time in the late 19th century, secondary schools were coming into being. The research which educators had done on their own system showed that as high school attendance increased, students' abilities and levels of achievement declined. Discovering this, educators concluded that what was needed were more extracurricular clubs and activities, and more sports programs, instead of refusing to go along with this destructive high school system, educators and politicians introduced legislation that would keep young adults locked into this system until they were 18 years of age.

The Progressive Movement

In the early decades of the 20th century, there arose in this country a movement to alter existing educational practices known as the progressive movement. During this same period, Americans were becoming aware of the ideas of civil and human rights. Women were granted the right to vote. Child labor laws were reluctantly established in every state. Both black and white Americans began to question segregationist practices.

It is easy to see that the educational practices that had been established prior to the 20th century were born out of a society that was still ignorant of the fact that human beings, even small children, should be granted certain basic human rights. Up to this point, we might even be able to forgive the educators and politicians of previous centuries for proceeding with what they knew to be destructive educational practices because people just did not have the idea that human beings should be granted basic human rights or that human beings needed to be treated with dignity and respect.

All research evidence, including the research which educators have done on themselves, points to the fact that this nation's educational system has failed.

The progressive education movement rose out of America's new awareness of civil and human rights. Leaders of this movement proposed an educational system that would treat children with greater dignity and respect. John Dewey and others responsible for this movement suggested that learning should begin with each child's personal interests rather than inflicting a curriculum on all children that was based only on teacher convenience. Dewey and others introduced the idea that children needed to learn in a democratic environment if they were to participate in a democratic society. The progressive movement introduced ideas such as the open classroom, where children could move freely from one subject area to another, and could relate in a normal way with their teachers and peers. They set up research laboratories and demonstrated beyond any doubt that children learned more effectively in smaller groups and that children required individual psychological support from the adults in their environment if they were to thrive and grow. Others experimenting at this same time discovered that children, when left to their own natural ways, easily learned subjects such as reading when they were ready and had developed the necessary mental capacities to do so, and that forcing children to memorize unrelated data bits before they were ready, in the hostile environment of traditional schools, clearly caused severe mental and emotional harm to children. In 1942, the Progressive Education Association published a study that showed that the students from progressive schools were more successful in later life than their counterparts from traditional educational institutions.

When all of this information became public knowledge, the educators and politicians who were responsible for the educational system at that time had to make a critical choice between continuing the current destructive system or altering existing educational practices. At this juncture, the educators and politicians decided to preserve the current system, knowing full well, beyond any doubt, that there was, in fact, a better way to educate children, a way that would not harm children in the process of teaching them to read, write and do mathematics. Some of the ideas of the progressive education movement temporarily found their way into the existing system. Some people mistakenly believed that it was possible to improve the inherently destructive educational system by introducing a few of the positive, progressive ideas into that system. However, the educational system is so inherently negative that positive ideas cannot survive within it. It was as if people tried to purify a septic tank by pouring a few cups of fresh water into the tank. While the water went in fresh, it was immediately contaminated and polluted by the contents of the tank.

During the 1950s, when the Soviets launched Sputnik and America had "fallen behind in the space race," educators and politicians took another leap into darkness. They decided that American children were going to have to "put out," and that the way to get children to "put out" was to do more of the same destructive things to children with greater intensity and frequency. This was the final blow to the children of this society and the point of no return, no recovery for this nation's destructive educational system.

More Failure

Since the 1950s, there have been panels and studies done each decade declaring this educational system a failure. In 1976, a National Panel on High School and Adolescence issued a report challenging the traditional patterns of schooling in this nation's high schools. The report called for specialized, part-time schools designed to meet the interests of the individual students. The report went on to suggest that students only be required to spend two to four hours a day in school. As usual, educators ignored the panel's findings and went right on with the same destructive educational practices which had led to the formation of the panel in the first place.

In the 1980s, a new national committee was formed to study the same problems in education. In 1983, the committee issued a report called "A Nation at Risk: The Imperative for Educational Excellence." The committee reported a steady decline in the achievements of American students and called for sweeping changes in the existing educational system. Again, politicians and educators concluded that the way to alleviate the problems in the existing educational system was to do more of the same things that were destroying and debilitating children in the first place. They decided that children should be subjected to tougher forms of psychological abuse called "discipline"; that they should have longer school days and more homework in subjects which they have no interest in learning; that parents should become more involved in forcing children to memorize data bits which have no meaning to them in their lives; and that teachers should get paid more money for doing these deadly, harmful things to children.

The more educated the parents, the more likely that careers and financial income will take precedence over the well-being of the child and the more likely it is that the child will be raised in day-care centers (day-orphanages) by strangers.

While all of this has been taking place, another body of research has been gathered on those people who have chosen to educate their children at home. This research has consistently shown that homeschooled children are superior intellectually and socially to their traditionally schooled peers. Homeschooled children spend less time studying and score as well or higher on academic tests. Homeschooling parents can do what educators are doing in one-half to one-third of the time without harming their children, and they can do it at no cost to the taxpayer. Like most educational research, the facts about the effectiveness of homeschooling have generally been ignored or kept secret. When some educators and politicians have become aware of the superiority of homeschooling, they have tried (unsuccessfully) to discredit homeschooling parents in spite of all the research evidence which supports this form of education.

When we say that the current educational system cannot be changed, we do not say this to challenge people. We say this because this educational system was set up to destroy children. Anyone who reads the research which the educational system has done on itself will see this immediately. The research shows over and over again that current educational practices are harmful to children. Each time this was discovered, a decision was made to keep these harmful practices in place.

The reason that we say homeschooling is now the only viable alternative to current educational practices for parents who want to prevent their children from being harmed is because it is not possible to take a system whose design-function is to destroy children and turn that system into a positive institution. Change in any inherently destructive system is the dynamic through which the system maintains itself. The way that this is done in the educational system is through what educators call curriculum enhancement. Every few years, educators introduce new reading programs, new math, new audio-visual aids, new "science" programs, new school hours and new extracurricular activities. Most of the time these "changes" are enough to keep this destructive system dynamic. Occasionally, these "changes" do not work and things get out of balance. Then educators temporarily introduce an idea like open classrooms. The temporary introduction of an idea like open classrooms only keeps the state and municipally-run death houses (called schools) going. (If you set up a system that systematically kills off the curiosity, liveliness and spontaneity of a nation's youth in an organized way, you can only call these institutions one thing--death houses.)

Unless an idea or a change is being specifically introduced to keep the destructive educational system dynamic, the idea will be immediately snuffed out. If you look at the conditions for a proper school listed on page 11 of this newsletter, you will see that anytime one of these ideas has been introduced into any educational system, the idea was so threatening to the system that it was immediately snuffed out. People in the system will say, "We tried doing more experiential things with children, but it was just too hard on the teachers."

The reasons that educators give for snuffing out positive ideas are endless. This is why we say that it is up to those individuals who, through their own uniqueness and strangeness, can school their children at home. (If you are a homeschooling parent and you do not think that you are perceived as weird or strange, go check with your neighbors.) Unless parents are willing to subject their children to the state and municipally-run death houses, parents are perceived as strange. In a society where this is the case, it is not possible for that society to alter educational practices according to the guidelines for a proper educational system listed on page 11 and discussed in detail in issue 4 of "Great Education Moves." This is why we say that we are only trying to talk to homeschooling parents and homebirthers.

The references for this article can be found in Grolier's Encyclopedia. But there are volumes of research information in libraries all over this country which prove that the existing educational system was defective from the start. One need only look at the goals and objectives of any school system and then compare the results of what comes out of that school system with the original goals and objectives. For centuries, educators and politicians have said that schools have been designed to produce moral, ethical adults. In fact, the original intention behind the establishment of schools was to teach children how to read so that they would be able to read the Bible and thereby learn to live in a moral way. You could almost forgive the destruction caused to human beings by the educational system if what this system produced was a more moral and ethical society. And even though human beings from the TV. evangelist to the self-serving top student in the fourth grade seem to somehow slide away from moral codes, at least there was an attempt being made in the early stages of education to get a useful moral code into people. But then people discovered that using the Bible in schools violated the laws governing the separation of Church and State. The idea of reading the Bible was extracted from the system, leaving only the destructive system in place.

All research evidence, including the research which educators have done on themselves, points to the fact that this nation's educational system has failed.

Educators and politicians through the centuries have also claimed that schools were designed to teach children to become good neighbors and good citizens in this democratic society. Educators and politicians claim that schools teach children the skills they will one day need to function in adult society, and that schools teach children to think creatively so that they might one day invent the things they will need to improve their lives.

While education was supposed to insure a more moral man or woman, this society has become more corrupt, more violent, more dishonest and more cunning with each generation since the establishment of the current educational system. As people have become more educated, they have become less able and less interested in participating in their national government. People have become less interested in what is going on in their own cities and towns. As people have become more educated, they have become less concerned about the needs of their neighbors; less able to care for sick and elderly relatives; and saddest of all, parents have become less interested in raising their children. The more educated the parents, the more likely that careers and financial income will take precedence over the well-being of their children and the more likely it is that the children will be raised in day-care centers (day-orphanages) by strangers.

The more educated people have become, the less they are able to create or invent things. Current educational practices permanently destroy children's abilities to think creatively, but this fact was known to educators before the end of the 17th century. There are those who would argue that clearly education has been responsible for the technological advances in this society. But, it turns out that most of the technological achievements of today are outgrowths of inventions and creations of "uneducated" people like Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and the Wright brothers, who had limited school experiences and would be judged as educational failures by today's standards. When people have invented things, it has never been a result of what has taken place in the classroom, but has always been a result of the personal, direct experiences with physical world reality which took place outside of the school setting.

Finally, the more educated people have become, the less they are able to build or to fix the things that they need and use in their everyday lives. Again, there are those who would argue that this is the price that human beings must pay for convenience, and that conveniences have made people's lives better and are therefore worth this price. However, it turns out that because something is easier or more convenient, that does not mean that it is better. (Current educational practices have been designed completely out of convenience and this system becomes more destructive to human beings with each passing year.) It turns out that people need to know how things work. When human beings cannot fix or make the things that they use every day, they feel and become helpless. This helplessness carries over into all aspects of people's lives. It makes them weak mentally and emotionally, and it causes them to do unhealthy things to themselves and others in order to compensate for the helpless feelings.

Bring on the Bilge Pumps!
Bring on the Sandbags!

So here we are in the 1990s. We at the Gentle Wind School have reinvented the wheel. We have discovered that the educational system has failed and that current educational practices destroy the mental and emotional apparatus of every person exposed to this system past the end of the second grade. We are saying the same things that were said by educational researchers in the 18th and 19th centuries. If we believed that this educational system could change, we would call for many of the same changes that were called for by the leaders of the progressive education movement during the first half of this century. Because we have seen what happened to the changes proposed by the leaders of the progressive education movement, we realize that calling for such changes is a waste of time. So instead, we are advocating homeschooling because we know that this is the only way that parents can insure that their children will not be harmed in the process of learning.

Modern education is nothing more than a sinking ship, a ship that was defective from the start. At best it is a system that was contrived out of ignorance and lack of intelligence. At worst, it was a deliberate and malicious attempt to inflict harm on children and to prevent lower class children from rising up out of poverty. Judging from what has happened to black children in this country as a result of current educational practices, this attempt to keep lower class children impoverished has been very successful. (See "Afro-American Children".)

As people have become more educated they have become less concerned about the needs of their neighbors; less able to care for sick and elderly relatives; and saddest of all, parents have become less interested in raising their children.

Whether contrived out of ignorance or malice or both, modern education was defective from the outset. It was as if its architects were given the task of constructing a large and strong, sea-worthy vessel that would be capable of withstanding very rough seas and harsh weather conditions. This vessel was to be a ship of hope, designed to take children to a better future. But the original plans and blueprints for this vessel were flawed from the start. As a result, the hull was too weak. The hull walls were too thin. Small fish passing by easily broke through the hull walls causing the vessel to take on water before it ever left the dock. The ropes holding the vessel to the dock were stretched out to capacity as the ship began to drop lower and lower into the water.

When the educators and politicians realized that the ship was sinking, they called for bilge pumps to remove the water and sandbags to plug the holes. But the hull was so weak that the passing fish and occasional rough waters continued to break through the hull walls causing the vessel to take on more and more water. The educators and politicians, seeing this, called for more bilge pumps and more sandbags. All, of course, at the taxpayers' expense.

As time passed, people accepted the fact that the ship was sinking. They lost sight of the fact that the vessel had been constructed to take children on a journey to a better life. Instead of using their resources to make this journey and to insure the safe passage of children, the educators, politicians and parents devoted themselves to keeping the ship from sinking. They spent all their time pumping, bailing and sandbagging the vessel. When this occurred, getting good grades, which was once a procedure and not a goal, became the only single goal for all concerned. Grading was only intended to be a procedure to be used by educators in order to help educators determine which students needed help in which subjects. Grading (which is not a good idea for all the reasons already discussed in "Great Education Moves") was only intended to be a means by which a much greater set of goals could be accomplished. Now, educators, politicians and parents are so consumed in trying to keep the ship of education from sinking, that the procedure of grading and of achieving good grades is the only goal and everything else has been lost.

Throughout the centuries, when educators and politicians realized that the ship was sinking, instead of scrapping the defective vessel, they called for more bilge pumps to remove the water and more sandbags to plug the holes. Educators and politicians said that all we needed to do to keep the system afloat was to introduce more extra-curricular activities and sports programs; to start children in school at younger ages; and to keep children in school longer (up to the age of 18.) Educators said that we just needed parents to become more involved and that we just needed students to try harder and to "put out." They said the children needed more discipline, more homework and more unrelated data bits to memorize. And to accomplish all of this, educators needed to be given more money.

However, none of these "solutions" could prevent the ship of education from taking on more water. Passing fish were still breaking through the hull walls. The educators and politicians insisted on pumping and bailing and sandbagging, but they just could not keep up with the oncoming water and deteriorating hull.

Now, in the 1990s, we are saying that not only is the ship of education sinking, but the children on board are drowning in the on-rushing waters. We are saying that we as a society do not have the luxury of pumping or bailing and sandbagging anymore, because the mental and emotional death toll among this society's children is just too high. The educators and politicians, victims of their own system, are too disconnected from reality to perceive the problem. They are like alcoholics who are addicted to doing things that are not good for them or for other people. Furthermore, they do not want to endanger their jobs, and so protect their incomes by clinging to the idea that this system can still be kept afloat. Occasionally, they admit that there are problems with this system and that the ship is taking on water. But their concerns are not for the drowning children. Their concerns are for their own jobs and salaries and for the preservation of faulty ideas. We are saying that this ship of education is taking on water and the majority of the children on board are drowning. The dead bodies are floating on top of the water and are covering the entire ship's deck. The educators agree that there is some water on board. However, they are only concerned about the water because they just varnished all the bright work up on deck, and the oncoming water and the dead bodies of the children floating on top of the water are ruining the varnish. The educators are calling for more bilge pumps and more sandbags to hold back the waters and for heavy machinery to remove the floating corpses from the ship.

So, where will it end? Year after year, young, vulnerable children board the ship of education, filled with hopes and dreams and expectations of how going to school will improve their lives. But shortly after boarding the vessel, the children discover that their parents have lied to them and that this ship of education is not going to take them anywhere. They discover that they must use all their resources just to stay afloat in a place where they are being forced to memorize meaningless data bits under conditions of extreme psychological duress. At first, the children try to swim and to hang on to the rails to stay afloat. But one by one, the children succumb. Their hopes and dreams are quickly forgotten. Their personal, individual destinies are permanently lost. One by one, their hopes and dreams are replaced with the single goal of getting an "A," and one by one, the children succumb to mental and emotional death. And while this is taking place, the educators and politicians are calling for more bilge pumps and more sandbags and higher salaries, and the citizens of this nation are praising them for their efforts.