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Education Vs. Schooling: Is it The Same? – Learn Liberty

February 15, 2020


Think back to your time in high school. Did
you ever feel that you were in prison? Did you ever feel that you were in a machine that
had its own purposes and goals and had no relation to what you actually wanted to do
or achieve? If you did then you shouldn’t be surprised, because this reflects the nature
of what the modern school is. The modern school was invented by the Prussians
after 1806. Before then, education was delivered in many different ways. What we think of as
a school was invented in that particular time and place. And it was invented for a very
particular purpose, which was to produce loyal, obedient subjects and soldiers and people
who would also be productive and obedient workers. It’s this that explains why school
is the way it is and has the features that it has. It explains why it is that the school
day is divided up into rigid time-structured blocks. It explains why it is that the organization
of the school is hierarchical and highly structured. It explains why it is that people are taught
with people their own age instead of people who are at the same stage of interest or ability
as themselves. And it explains why in many school systems one of the functions of the
system is to direct people into particular life paths to sort out young people into different
kinds of career groups. To the extent that education actually does
take place in schools, it’s a happy accident or a by-product. Now there are many people
who work in schools who believe that education, in fact, is the main point of what they’re
doing and who are trying very hard to educate the people in their charge. However, the problem
is that the whole system they’re working in—the way it’s set up, the way it’s
organized—is hostile to that goal and endeavor. So that they’re in the unfortunate position
of constantly trying to push water uphill, if you will. And any success they have is
gained against the odds. What we need to realize is education and schooling are not the same
thing. In fact, because we think that schooling is the same thing as education, we have a
radically impoverished idea of what education is and could be. Why, for example, do we assume that education
should only take place at one stage of a person’s life? Education is something that can take
place at any stage in someone’s life, and indeed should do. Why assume that we have
to educate people the same age all together? Surely this is a crazy way of doing it. Why
do we have to deliver education in the highly structured and formalized way that schools
require us to do it in? Education is something which is central to most people’s lives. What
we need to do is to get away from the idea that schools are the only way in which we
can deliver education.

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