If you had a blind spot that caused you to ignorantly put your children’s safety and well-being at risk, you’d want to know about it, wouldn’t you?
As a concerned parent, you’d like to be 100% sure you’re seeing clearly and doing all you can to prepare your children for their lives as adults in a free society.
If that’s the case, then I invite you to join me in taking a look into our cultural blind spot and consider for a half hour the moral, economic and political risks involved in educating our children in a compulsion-based school system. Then, I’ll tell you about a freedom-based school that has been operating for over forty years with remarkable results.
What is Compulsion-Based Education and Why is it Bad?
First, let’s talk about what we have now, which is, a compulsion-based education system. Where did it come from? How did “the land of the free” come to adopt such a non-freedom oriented method of education?
Most Americans are unaware that our so-called American public school system, and the private schools which model themselves after it, are not American in either origin or operation. Our schools are modeled directly on the Prussian School Model developed in the early 1800s – there’s very little “American” about them.
In 1806, the principality of Prussia included today’s Northern Germany, Poland, and a little bit of Russia. That year Napoleon invaded and whacked the Prussians big-time. The Prussian King, Frederick the Great, blamed their loss on his soldiers and bureaucrats who kept second-guessing the orders of their superiors.
A Prussian philosopher, Johann Gottlieb Fichte, claimed the solution for Prussia was to use schools to destroy individual initiative and free will in their students so when they became soldiers and bureaucrats, they would follow orders without question. Fichte wrote,
“In a word, it is a total change of the existing system of education that I propose as the sole means of preserving the existence of the German nation.…[The] very recognition of, and reliance upon, free will in the pupil is the first mistake of the old system…. [T]he new education must consist essentially in this, that it completely destroys freedom of will.” (my emphasis).
Two years later, based on Fichte’s recommendations, Prussia instituted the world’s first tax-funded, government controlled, compulsory, universal public school system. And just guess which three subject they stressed should be taught? Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic. (Sound familiar?)
It should, because 30 years later, Horace Mann, the Father of our so-called “American public education system” was so enamored by the Prussian model that he sold the idea to American bankers and industrialists who needed to turn the children of America’s independent-minded farmers into obedient clerks and factory workers. They helped Mann get it adopted in Massachusetts and then helped him spread the model across the entire United States.
They knew if they called it what it actually was – “socialized education” – freedom-minded Americans would reject it outright. So they sold the idea by claiming this new system of education offered all Americans “Equal Opportunity.” That sounded so American-like that the general public bought into it, hook, line and sinker.
So that’s how we came to adopt a compulsion-based education which was intended to squash our children’s free will.
Defining Our Terms
So, before we go any further, we really should define our terms here. What do I mean by the term “compulsion-based education”? How is the principle of compulsion embedded in our Prussian-American school system? It’s found on three levels.
1st. Universal Compulsory education laws. Every child must attend school whether they want to or not. If the child refuses, the parents may be fined or imprisoned. Home schooling is the only exception.
2nd. Our schools practice Compulsory instruction – The teacher assumes the responsibility for the child’s education, so it is the teacher who determines what, where and how the child is to learn. The child has very little, if any, choice in the matter.
And 3rd, the entire school system itself is a Compulsion-based organization – a rigid top-down hierarchy patterned organizationally after the typical 19th century corporation where each level has power over the level below them. In the classroom the teacher wields the legislative, executive and judicial power, which by definition makes her a tyrant – however benevolent she may be.
Then, at the bottom of this rigid power-structure comes the student. He is left with one of four choices: Comply, Subvert, Escape, or Rebel.
“Well,” you might reason, “it can’t be all THAT bad can it? I mean everyone has to go through it, right?” Let’s look at how compulsion is counter-productive to learning.
Why This Is Bad.
As the old Soviet Union taught us, economic compulsion destroys the incentive to produce. The output of Russian farmers was a mere fraction of the productivity of farmers in the free world. Likewise, educational compulsion can destroy, or greatly reduce, the individual’s incentive to learn. Supporting evidence for this assertion is found in… (Download the entire Freedom-Based Education article).