Most homeschooling parents I know, homeschool for precisely the opposite reasons.
Most of the "wildness," or more to the point, "hatefulness" clearly came from the parents. The racism, the homophobia, the Disneyesque self-absorption, the intolerance for anything outside of the present iteration of pop culture and regional sport -- all seeded, fostered, and fed by the family. The kids were barely old enough to even understand any of this stuff, let alone hate someone for it, yet they did!
I doubt that the Thoreau experience is going to have much effect on damage inflicted outside of the classroom, and this is a big thing. It's why we have "good" school districts and "bad" school districts within the same county -- expenditure per pupil is the same, buildings are the same, teachers are mostly the same, but the upbringing is not.
The author addresses this...
"But the truth is we don’t know how to teach our children about nature because we ourselves were raised in the cinderblock world. We are, in the parlance of wildlife rehabilitators, unreleasable."
We can't teach what we don't already know, the best we can do is give the kind of support that is conducive to self-education. If that support is not being provided at home, then it's worthwhile providing it elsewhere. So in other words, the concept of schools aren't necessarily bad, but the way in which learning takes place at those schools could be improved by greater emphasis on self-discovery.
If you have an active indoctrination of mental bile in the home environment -- especially among society's "losers" who see everything as some other group's fault (blame it on the Mexicans, hipsters, blacks, yuppies, Jews, etc...), and the only thing countering it is some kind of vague free-range schooling, the results will more closely resemble the barbarism of previous centuries.
For every Abraham Lincoln the nineteenth century produced, it produced brigands of no account by the dozens.
Of course if you come from an enlightened family of academics, Hollywood producers, or some other group of high-minded winners with a magnanimous bent, then everything she writes sounds just fine.
I understand the lack of standardised testing is scary to those who want to measure everything, but in my opinion measurement breeds mediocrity, I don't think we get the best out of ourselves by chasing exam scores.
Self-reliance does not make a person civilized. Self-reliance does not make a person fit to coexist peacefully and productively with persons outside of their own familial or tribal group.
> I understand the lack of standardised testing is scary to those who want to measure everything...
I have no beef with the academic angle. From a cost-benefit perspective, it would be hard to do any worse than we already do. My beef is that we have a lot of people who need to be civilized, and that walks in the forest are not up to the task.
Sure it does, because self-directed learning means you are less divorced from the consequences of your mistakes. You become better at interacting with others by doing so, rather than being told what to do without fully appreciating why.
> "My beef is that we have a lot of people who need to be civilized, and that walks in the forest are not up to the task."
That really depends on your definition of civilised. Some behaviour of 'civilised' people is abhorrent compared to the 'noble savages' that the article occasionally alludes to. If our only goal is emotionally-stunted automatons then perhaps you'd have a point, but I'd rather take a walk through a forest with someone who can appreciate the wildness of nature than someone who sees it as unruly chaos that should be straightened out.
As an aside, our notion of what's socially acceptable has shifted over time, it's not a single ideal we have to live up to. I enjoy the contrast Nietzsche made between Apollo and Dionysus in Greek society, I do think there's still room for what they both represented.
Me, I've went to early post-Soviet schools in small towns.
Didn't really have upper class there, neither suppressed minorities - everybody were equally poor.
Yet all the points of parent article resound greatly with my experience. I did experience apathy and unability to focus on material pushed at and thru me, great deal of it.
Where and how did this become a race/class issue? If the "strangling of inherent wildness" is also a class restricted issue, then I am at a loss to understand what isn't.
Or perhaps, those with an axe to grind will see a grindstone everywhere.
Let me give you my definition of "loser" by way of comparison.
I know one guy, B, married, college-educated, decent income, lives in a big house in a nice neighborhood. Get him alone, get a few beers in him, and his resentment towards almost every conceivable social, ethnic, religious, or political group (outside of his own) gushes to the surface. B's fundamental problem is that everything he has is insecure. He would have a hard time finding a job that pays as well as the one he has, he doesn't kill it with the ladies, he isn't fit, he's old and looks it, his wife bleeds him dry because cash is the only thing he has that makes him desirable (it sure as hell isn't his personality). I shudder to think of the baggage he has unloaded upon his children.
Know another guy, A, also married (to a hot asian girl half his age), not college educated, spotty income (fixes houses for a living), lives in a modest house in a so-so neighborhood. Get him alone, get a few beers in him, and he is every bit as friendly and agreeable as he is in public, stone-cold sober. He lives simple, keeps fit, has no trouble rounding up another gig if the current one insists that he suck the big one. He's not angry at anyone because he has nothing to really be angry about. This dude is a winner, and unless his wife is a resentful harpy, his children will also be winners.
edit: Plus, I'm not too fond of Waldorf's philosophy, and even less of the Anthroposophy's.
Both my kids suddenly took flight and became much more interested by themselves in things like reading and arithmetic once their teeth started to really change - not due to pressure from adults. And it's only anecdotal, but this has been borne out many times as I've spent time with other families.
(Also anecdotal!) but when I spend time with adults who grew up in societies where math and literacy is already emphasised at age 3, for example, I find they are completely unable to stop talking :-)
Come to think of it, this was very well written - it had a nice flow to it, building up to some profound observation, and then starting over with some different viewpoint. My only complaint is over those weird "repeat myself in giant text surrounded by quotation marks" things scattered throughout the article, but that seems to have become an acceptable/recommended practice?... (Really, when did this become a thing? I'm really curious on the history of it, but I don't know which term to search for).
I will say that I used to read only nonfiction texts because I enjoy learning about history and the sciences, and these subjects seemed more important than what can be found in fictional stories. But then I began reading more stories, especially slice-of-life type things, and I realized that I was wrong. Reading these stories lends me insight into my own social life - how to be a better friend, etc - and really makes me contemplate which values I want to live by and how I can uphold those in my day to day life.
I liken this to the distinction between classroom schooling and life learning. There's a decent-sized class of subjects that are more effectively taught through experience and self-discovery than via instruction. Interestingly, this class of subjects seems to be the most foundational, as they tend to lend insights into things like what makes an individual feel fulfilled, whereas the subjects taught in school are usually more along the lines of tools (that could potentially be applied to the former). But what use is it to learn a tool if you have no sense of what to apply it to? Engagement increases when a student is seeking knowledge of their own accord, usually to satisfy some goal, curiosity or creative drive - none of which are likely to be conceived within a classroom. Certainly some balance is needed.
For me, they just create stress when I'm reading. I see one of these pull quotes coming and I think "I should just skip this - I know they'll repeat themselves further down, or that this quote will be a repeat of something said earlier, so I should save myself the time and skip it." But then when I try to do that, the thought becomes, "but what if this quote is unique and not just some text copy-pasted from elsewhere? I need to read it, otherwise I might not understand the rest of this section." And of course, I see these pull quotes edging up from the bottom of the screen a few sentences in advance, and so all this thought distracts me and I invariably have to reread the surrounding text because of that.
Hopefully this is something particular to me and pull quotes don't cause others this kind of irrational stress. In any case, thanks for answering my question.
I really don't see how it makes sense in the context of a single article though. If I'm already clearly reading an article, a pull quote is only going to distract me.
It's a substitute for images for lazy authors.
I would expect the children of the prosperous peasants in Breughel's paintings probably got beaten more than our children do now, although they grew up careless and free. Or the children of the proud guilds members in Rembrandts paintings, should we pity them because they were learning their family's trade at a young age? Or the gypsy girls of Renoir, was their childhood not more richer and adventurous then that of those stuffy Parisiens?
The other thing, and it is unclear if this is related to the way children grow up, but tribal societies are generally violent. Raids, rape and murder, constant warring, torture, let's call it terror, is the bedrock of martial societies. How can this not be curbed by stunting these violent impulses from early childhood?
To conclude somewhat pithily. The ship has sailed, our children will never grow up the way we did in some primeval state, not even remotely, mostly because that world is alien to us. Whatever revolution she's alluding too in the end, I cannot imagine it. At most, essays like that are a veiled advertisement of home-schooling, although I do believe the author did set her sights much higher than that.
Also my thoughts. I checked her about page and learned Carol Black is the creator of The Wonder Years with her husband.
I agree with the author's premise that the current (US public) school model is not conducive for a child's future. The school's churns out students so they can be ready for JOBS (or get into a college that will help you get JOBS). It's been easy to fall into that trap with capitalism as the driving force behind everything. Capitalism has been evolving over the centuries, forcing workers into more specific disciplines then ever before (seriously, how many of us have 3 or 4 word job titles?).
However, that isn't to say structure doesn't have it's place. The author didn't to a good job of drawing some sort of line where structure is needed. A line is helpful here. That line should look like what we want our schools to ultimately achieve for our children and society. Are we a society of workers? Or do we want to be something else?
The way you define yourself(eg: family man, software engineer ect) is definition of your relationship with the society. And anything that is defined is not 'wild'.
Instead of considering "wildness" as the observable actions of an individual (in our culture generally equated with "out of line"), consider "wildness" as the state-of-mind -- or the embodied, subjective experience of an individual -- in which that individual experiences themselves as a completely sovereign individual enmeshed in a web of relationships with other completely sovereign individuals.
There are many such wild humans living in our society even now. If you're looking for the guy running through the city in loincloth beating his chest and grunting gutturally, you won't find them.
You will find them if you look for people walking through the world almost like everyone else, except their eyes sparkle like the stars.
And regarding your second point about having a role meaning that something is not wild: In the actual "wild", out there in the natural ecosystems of the world, roles and wildness existing very much hand in hand. Through a certain lens, biological diversity is exactly the separation of life into distinct and complementary roles.
Wildness is not a rejection of role. Wildness is the the complete and unreserved embodiment of who-you-are (your unique and undeniable role/roles) and the expression of that in relationship to everyone else.
So I can go murder someone I don't like because I am a 'wild human'. Personal freedom is different from social rules. You are not "wild" if you live in a society in any capacity.
Taken away by who though? There is no secret cabal called 'society' out there. You are the society. society is pure reflection of your actions, your thoughts, your relationship with others.
Society gives us security, no one is forcing people to send their kids to these 'wildnesss killing schools' but we do it because it gives use security and makes us feel safe. And that is the price you have to pay for that security, the security that your mind seeks. The conflict we think we are in with the society is merely a conflict within ourselves, the conflict of self that seeks both security and freedom .
Put differently, in a society of the future where "humans need not apply" perhaps we might find a little more wildness to be of some redeeming value.
(Previously linked and discussed here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8486440)
Try this for another explanation/point of view (it's kept short and to the point):
(About the speaker: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ken_Robinson_%28educationalist...
We took humans, we extracted every bit of work from them, we got a lot of work done and a lot of empty shells for people.
What if with each generation it's an downward spiral? Because it certainly looks so.
Yes we are a developed world, but at what expense?
Right now we are seeing the effects of this disconnect: global warming, depletion of resources, dying ocean, pollution, overpopulation, etc.
Somehow in the future we need to have a right balance between productivity and our connection with the nature.
Is it realistic to think that I can 'fix' my children in the off-school hours?
So being present and patient, and not loud and pushy and "you have to" kind of thing. Be quiet and listen to them, help them to keep pets, read them books (when they are older, things like maybe Tom Sawyer) - and leave your work at work.
And when they come to find you, look them in the eye and answer their questions, no matter how exhausting it might be. A big part of that for me was putting work aside and just learning to accept that my customers are going to come second for quite a while here (I've done many stretches of solo parenting).
And all those times they aren't at school, weekends and holidays - invest the days. Wander into nature, go fossicking on a beach, take them camping, find creeks and waterfalls, build cubby houses, and.. keep quiet :) they will introduce more than enough excitement by themselves.
Just my 2c
Can education be improved? Certainly! However, mass home schooling is not the answer if you want to keep any semblance to current society. Most people have to work to make enough $s, for instance.
That being said, it'll probably take decades before we can ween our society off the formal education models that are prevalent, the least we can do in the meantime is to make it less authoritarian. This clip from Michael Moore's documentary 'Where To Invade Next' shows what that can look like by looking at the Finnish school system:
Look, I'm not saying the way education is delivered in $YOUR_COUNTRY cannot be improved. I very much agree it can be. But what the author seems to be advocating is some romanticised pastoral lifestyle that is unobtainable to the majority, along with a heavy doses of "the noble savage" and other unsubstantiated woo. Home schooling is a luxury. Small classes are a luxury. Tell me something that can actually be delivered to the majority of children. Do some studies to show it works. Then I'll be interested.
FWIW, the techniques discussed in my pedagogy books have effect sizes that amount to about a 2 grade level improvement and they typically require less work of the teacher. That's stuff everyone can do---if the school environment allows it.
Developed countries are assumed went thru a few decades of economic growth and productivity gains. I think they should be ready for some universal, commonplace luxuries.
I think children should be first to gain those.
Because I can't escape the fact that the "bad" education that "cinderblock schools" dispense is the only one that everybody can afford. For most kids in the world today, going to a cinderblock school is their only chance at an education and their only way to slightly improve their life situation and that of their families.
To be allowed to "run wild" you have to come from a family with a certain privilege, if I may use the word. Great if you can afford that. But to then turn around and say that everyone else is made dumb by going to school is a little on the nose (and completely missing the point).
It's a bit like saying that a Ferrari is so much better as a car than what most people drive- so why doesn't everyone let go of their silly little bucket-like cars and hop into a sexy red hot Italian supercar?
Because everyone can't afford one, that's why.
You do need to be rich to have convenient access to nature in exactly the doses you prefer.
Look, if you want your kids to have these experiences, then take them to the park/woods/beach/river/somewhere. Independent thought exists outside of school.
"They don’t know if the moon is waxing or waning, if that berry is edible or poisonous, if that song is for mating or warning."
My daughter knows waxing vs. waning. She learned it at school.
However, I think GP should read the entire article, because the aims of the modern education system are well documented in their intent to create compliant workers. The authors analogy of humans to Zoo animals makes a lot of sense, given that we are only Mammals, after all.