On Government-Sponsored Schooling

I have received quite a few comments on my latest article published on LewRockwell.com. In the article I discuss a reason for concluding government-sponsored schooling has failed that isn’t usually discussed: the fact that there are some individuals, after nine or twelve years of schooling, who still do not share the values of the so-called mainstream.

As I claim in the article, the diversity in values and beliefs should be much greater among the kids entering the school system than is showing among the same kids when they have “finished” their education. The reasons for this homogeneity in values, thoughts, and views on the world could be many. It is reasonable to assume people are likely to adopt each others’ views when interacting, especially when interacting in small groups for a long time (such as in school classes). It is also reasonable to assume kids 7-15 years old have not yet established a “fixed” world view yet, which means the difference between the individuals’ values as 7-year-olds and then as 15-year-olds might not be a good variable to analyze. (It should however also be true that 15-year-olds generally are often at the hight of their development to being adults, and thus even more confused and “unknowing” than they will ever be.)

However, these problems set aside it should be possible to study what happens with people’s values and convictions when they are educated. In our thoroughly statist western societies it is not unlikely that the state’s interest in schooling as well as in the media has propaganda reasons. There is reason why dictators take over the media and schools among the first things they do – there is value to them in doing so, they get the upperhand in educating the grown-up population and its children, they get to say what is truth and what is lie.

So one does not have to be a conspiracy theorist to understand some of the drivers for states to control education; at least one of them (if not all) is about ensuring and increasing control and power.

But the article is not about the “why’s” of government-sponsored and government-run schooling. It is about how this schooling is failing and how we can most easily see that it is in fact failing. Many libertarians have pointed to the fact that some people go through school without learning the essentials, thus telling us the state is inefficient and ineffective and therefore shouldn’t run schools. This is true, but we should perhaps be glad this is so.

Assuming it is true that there is a reason for the ruling class to monopolize education so that they can make sure their power is not questioned, there is reason to appreciate the fact that some people are forced to spend nine or twelve years in class without learning what is being taught. It might not make sense to say it is a good thing that some people don’t learn to read and write even though teachers try to teach them for a decade. To be able to read and write is of course a quality, and it is necessary in our western societies to have this quality.

However, if schools fail to educate children in the most basic knowledge taught, there is reason to assume schools also fail in other areas: they should fail to brainwash students to the same degree as they fail to teach people to read and write.

This is one of the points in my article, and it is an important point to make. If people have the same views and beliefs when graduating – then something is wrong. People shouldn’t have the same ideas, values, views, and beliefs. If schools really only teach knowledge and do not try to teach our kids how to be “good citizens,” there should be a bunch of kids graduating every year with a great variety of world views. People grow through forming their own beliefs and values – with or without the help of others. If this is really what is done in government schools, then people should come to different conclusions.

So why don’t they? Is it because government has found The Truth and therefore has the right to make us believe it? Or is it that government has reason to make us believe certain things?