The Lie of Education

The normal American chlid is sent to school at age 4 or 5.  He spends 180 days per year, from 8am until 3pm “at school”.  There at school, he is taught about “the real world”, which means the adult world of employment and politics.  He learns to read excerpts from books, write research papers and essays from the school library, perform mathematical calculations on selected problems, name the parts of plant cells and frogs, distill water and test pH in chemistry class, and play recreational sports.  The student who learns these things is given good grades and is sent off to college.  There, he spends an additional 4 to 8 (or more) years preparing for degrees and qualifications needed for professions that are said to be available out there in the real world he’s been learning about since he was 5 years old.   However, he’s now over 20 years old, if not already 30.  He’s still preparing for “the real world” which he is continually told lies on the other side of the school world he has been raised in, in which he has, but that time, spend over half of his days on earth.

What this schooling denies is that “the real world” doesn’t begin after schooling is over, but began when the boy was born.  Real life began then, when he took his first breath and was met with God’s command:  “Honor thy father and thy mother.”  A child’s response to that command determines a child’s future, not his schooling.  St. Paul writes to the Ephesians (who, note, were not Jewish people):

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is just.  Honour thy father and thy mother, which is the first commandment with a promise: That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest be long lived upon earth.

Now, right there, we have God’s promise to children that “it may be well” with them, and that they “may be long lived upon earth”.  What might they seek in life that is not included in that promise?

Moreover, the world into which they are born–their family–is treated by modern schools as a nursery from which the world comes to take its workers.  This view of the family directly opposes the commandment, and leads a child to think that his happiness lies somewhere outside the realm of his father and mother–through whom God has promised his happiness.

Worst of all, though, the educational system in America threatens students falsely that if they don’t embrace it and commit to it for as long as is needed, they will actually not enjoy the life God has promised to good people.  The educational system drains the current resources and locks up the student’s future resources in a self-serving campaign that really does nothing for 90% of the population other make them poorer, less happy, less healthy and depressed, imagining that they are so because they didn’t get more schooling.

The educational world warns of lower wages of students who pull out early.  We see that a student with no degree is offered a few thousand dollars less in salary by an employer, but what’s ignored is the reality that children in America don’t EVER need to be employees at all.  They are free to start their own businesses and to do that having capital is more important than having diplomas, certificates and degrees.  The capital that could be invested in family businesses is, instead, surrendered to the schools who promise something they never deliever, save to those who would have had it without the schools.

Yes, there appear to be exceptions.  Students at Harvard can get hooked up with classmates from influential families, who will go on to hold influential offices in society.  However, these advantages are not provided by the school, but are owed to what the families do outside of the school.  There is no necessary reason why these families allow their own benefits to be adminstered  through schools that make a killing of them.  Society does not need to operate through the medium of educational instuitutions.

God’s way is must happier for everyone involved and more permanently.

In my family, for instance, both my wife and I are university graduates.  I look back at my college experience and am totally unimpressed.  Nothing that my wife or I enjoy today is dependent on our having gone to college.  In fact, if I would have been taught how the business world works, I would have had successful businesses up and running when I was a teenager.  I could have generated capital to invest in greater business endeavors.  Moreover, I would have done so in the context of my own family life and community and with their help.  If profits were made, they would have benefitted my family members, whom I owe my life-long love and respect.   I could have eased my parents’ financial burdens by pitching in to cover costs and thus might have honored and repaid them as God wills.   Instead, I lived in apartments and on fast food, using some loans and miserable, low-paying jobs to get my degree.  Then, with my degree…I had to figure out what to do…in the real world.  When I finally figured it out, I realized, I didn’t even need the college degree.

My children are going to learn a different plan.  I’m not spending money on educational promises or diplomas for them.  I’m giving them an education that puts their happiness before anyone else’s profit.  I’m investing the money that would be funding teacher vacations and retirements to buy land and develop businesses for them.  They will be free to take up these businesses whenever they want to.  They will be free to get married and start family on the land being bought for them.  There will be no talk of college or degrees because, as everyone knows, very few traditional occupations require college degrees.  Farming requires no degree, for example, which is supposed to be man’s default occupation, the simple occupation for which he was created and by which the most moral good is gained by him.  Self-owned service businesses–carpentry, plumbing, clothesmaking, mechanics, etc..–require no degrees or diplomas.   Careers in music or the performing arts require no degrees or diplomas.  What degree did Socrates have?  or Mozart?  or Michelangelo?  or Alexander Graham Bell?  or St. Augustine?  or Jesus Christ himself?

Where, then, does all of this pressure for schooling and degrees come from?

If we are  honest, we will find that it comes from what John Cassian called the eight principal faults:  gluttony, sloth, lust, anger, pride, covetousness, depression, vainglory and envy.   I’m not saying this is all obvious at first glance, but I challenge you to reflect on what leads people to hand over their lives’ savings to school admission offices, or to lock up their future years with student  loans that comes from prudence, courage, justice, temperance, faith, hope or charity.

Unfortunately, many families are making terrible decisions to abandon the educational system I’ve described for an opposite and worse extreme, what they call “unschooling”.  If anyone thinks that the school philosophy is bad, this is worse.  What I’ve explained above is that the alternative to aimless, expensive schooling is virtuous, profitable industry.  The alternative is NOT aimless, and inexpensive un-schooling.  The vices allowed to grow and thrive in an environment that rmeoves children from the formal order of modern schooling (which is good) andn leaves them to idle away in selfish curiosity is moral poison.  Old wise men used to say that “idle hands are the devil’s workplace” and idle didn’t mean resting.  The busy-ness of selfish curiosity is idleness.  The duties of real life demand real-world skill and resourcefulness, personal discipline to work through complex and exhausting projects and despise immediate gratification, courage to act in the face of difficulties and threats and integrity to always act justly regardless of the costs of justice.  The silly, immature spirit nurtured by those abandoning school order is going to be a great source of regret in these children’s lives and it’s not the virtuous alternative to aimless schooling.  Real-world work is the alternative and very few children are being introduced to that alternative.

I’m going to stop there because I myself need to get back to work.  I’m happy to continue on this topic in the comments as you will.

God bless,
William Michael
Beatitudes Farm


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2 Responses to The Lie of Education

  1. Brother Augustine,ofmConv. says:

    Thank you for these inspired insights ! I pray that more families will start to see the realities you recognize. God bless your family and all your endeavors!

    • wmclaa says:

      Thank you, brother, for your comment and more for your prayers. These are difficult things to sort out and even more difficult to put into practice. Our children, unfortunately, are attracted to the things that we parents, with greta difficulty, have learned to despise. Only with God’s grace can we overcome these temptatings and live as God wills.

      -William Michael

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