In order for there to be freedom, human curiosity cannot be limited. To be human is to seek understanding. In understanding there is love, there is camaraderie, there is friendship, there is community, there is togetherness and there is wholeness. Yet throughout human history, humankind has worked diligently to inhibit our most natural inclination. The inevitable consequence of limiting curiosity is the emergence of the harbinger of our intellectual, moral and physical deaths: Apathy. With each passing decade, Apathy grows ever stronger, enveloping our minds, deadening our hearts and destroying our souls. The apathetic are empty, they are devoid of the emotions that characterize humanity, they seek nothing, pursue nothing and do nothing, they are perpetually depressed and incapable of discovering why. Apathy thrives in America and it is the greatest cause for the physical, intellectual and moral deterioration of our nation. To stave off the inevitable cataclysm that such a decline will invite, curiosity must be unfettered, it must be allowed to search and explore and it must be given the room to grow and mature. In centuries past, human curiosity was curtailed by the institution of religion which decided on our behalf what we ought to believe. It follows that the next great impediment to human liberation is the institution of school, which decides on our behalf how we ought to think and what we ought to know. School has indeed replaced religion, inhibiting our curiosity with an all too similar hierarchical ordering of society. Where America once paved the way for religious freedom, it must again strive for the growth of humanity and build toward educational freedom.
A clear distinction must be made between schooling and education. Schooling is the process by which human beings are conditioned to compartmentalize themselves and their dreams. The school is a paragon of rigidity, an inflexible machine that demands mindless grade based competition. Rather than encourage understanding, schools demand the memorization and regurgitation of information to which no real attachment is ever built. Rather than allow children to naturally gravitate toward one another, school enforces separatism, dividing human beings according to age and the ability to memorize and regurgitate. Rather than allow the developing minds of children to explore and discover the world and its wonders, school imposes disconnected and meaningless curricula upon them. None of this is to say undeveloped minds are not in need of guidance. It is to say that children are naturally inquisitive and thus do not need the forceful hand of school in order to become exploratory in their behavior. An education is not an indistinguishable commodity manufactured by teachers in a school building. An education is the development of unique and invaluable physical skills, intellectual powers and moral understandings acquired first through simply living, then through having our curiosity nurtured and our thought processes challenged. Thus, it is meaningless to have curriculums that divide highly interconnected fields of study into separate subjects. The only end such curriculums serve is to teach the human mind to compartmentalize the multifaceted nature of life and rationalize it as being a jumbled mess of disparate and unrelated parts, when it is instead a whole composed of inexorably interwoven wholes. It is also meaningless to have curriculums that are structured to confine boundless fields of study into thirty minute periods. All such a structure does is teach our minds to open and stifle curiosity at a moment’s notice, which is one of the two direct causes for the unreasonably short attention spans of children. The other cause is television, both of which serve our minds unrelated, time constrained segments that train us to forget the immediate past and to disregard the future unless it holds immediate gratification. Disarmed by this manufactured need for immediacy, children remain children as their bodies mature into physical adulthood, almost irreversibly and nearly incurably disabled by the Apathy that pervades our entire society.
Education, the antithesis of schooling, is open and fluid, governed solely by curiosity. It is the act of arming an individual with the tools necessary to develop oneself intellectually, emotionally and morally for mature life. True education features a malleable structure, allowing for educators, and most importantly learners themselves, to adapt said structure to individual needs and wants. Children first develop their natures through internalizing the attitudes, behaviors and actions of the major influences in their lives. As they mature, they discover their true selves by sifting through these internalized influences for the most deeply resonant ones, then augmenting these understandings with their own personal perceptions. School, limited by meaningless curricula, divisive policies and empty standards, can do nothing to aid individuals on that journey. If a school ever offers anything of educational worth, it is wholly because the school building has become the only place where children are allowed to be. Hiring well-intentioned teachers is not a solution because they too are limited by the meaningless curricula and empty standards. Students inevitably admire these well-intentioned teachers solely for their extraordinary patience and commendable dedication. Students rarely, if ever, come to appreciate the actual material being forced upon them. Universal education through schooling is infeasible and unrealizable because schooling implies education is entirely the result of being taught. Human beings will, and have, internalize a crippling dependency on institutions following such a blind assumption. The answer, then, is to reject the ideology that education can only result from being taught and replace it with the understanding that while education can benefit from direct instruction, it results more wholly and more usefully from self-discovery.
Self-discovery was once a defining principle of American society. It was summed up in the second sentence of the Declaration of Independence:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights… among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Education is all at once a matter of life, liberty and happiness. In the absence of an education, human beings are robbed of the opportunity to live, left to merely exist in a state of unlimited suffering, painful aimlessness, incorrigible shiftlessness, crushing ineptitude, soul shattering lostness and hateful ignorance, all of which compound an already fatally confounding incapacity: the inability to understand Self. The impact education has on living should not and must never be undermined, as it is from its absence that our fellow human beings have been driven to suicide, an insoluble madness stemming directly from the inability to comprehend. All current impediments to living life freely can be directly attributed to a lack of education, to the absence of nurturing guidance and direct challenges to our innermost thought processes.
First robbed of life, the uneducated man is simultaneously relieved of liberty. Liberty is the ability of an individual to exercise control over their Self. Animals, unencumbered by the blessed curse of Reason, are motivated largely by Instinct and are thus unable to exercise full control over their actions. But we humans, gifted with Reason, have the innate potential for mastery of Self and understanding of divine Nature and the Universe. If these things are accepted as liberty in its fullest and most complete form, then any laws prohibiting men from reaching those thresholds should be considered sinister and heinous. Compulsory schooling is such a law, as it promotes merely adequacy while demanding, at minimum, ten years of our lives.
Robbed of life and relieved of liberty, the uneducated man is also deprived of the ability to pursue happiness. Happiness is not a thing that can be universally defined, but it can be understood as a state of mental well-being. But for a moment, let us ignore what happiness is or is not, as it becomes irrelevant when it is understood that the uneducated man has not the tools to pursue anything. The uneducated man resolves himself to aimlessness for the sake of tranquility and he commits himself to drudgery in the name of productivity. He does not pursue anything, he holds still and waits. Mental well-being itself becomes a remote fantasy, something to be dreamed about but never sought for. To be uneducated is to be all at once denied life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Though he is clearly the antithesis of all it means to be a citizen of the United States, the uneducated man is ubiquitous in American society. I am him. Your school aged sons, daughters, nephews and nieces, they are him. Our college aged brothers and sisters, cousins and friends, they are him. Our middle aged parents, they have become him. Even our grandparents, who carry what are now vestigial remnants of previous generations, have been subsumed. And you, you who may long for something greater than what exists now, you too are him. The Americans who are not him are long dead, and those who seek to free their Selves from his grasp have been killed, imprisoned or otherwise ostracized. His existence is a genetically engineered cancer that pervades and poisons every facet of American society. And this cancer exists as a direct result of the educationally worthless American school system. Given that that is the case, it must then be understood that the American school system is inherently anti-American.
But before we are Americans, we are first human beings. Laws propagated by government representatives in order to control how human beings are educated are as sinister and as ill-intentioned as those laws which once controlled how human beings practiced religion. It is both abhorrent and unconscionable to impose laws which serve to first impede human growth then unabashedly mitigate the full liberty of human beings. It is this understanding that necessitates the following statement: The American school system is inherently anti-human.
Increased funding is not a solution because the American school system is not a thing that can be repaired. It is not damaged, it is not broken. It is in fine working order, it does exactly as it was intended to do. It produces a pacified and predictable public that can easily be monitored and controlled. It does this by taking the curious human mind and stripping it of all its natural affinities, until all that is left is a receptive, passive and apathetic husk. Human beings are schooled enough to be deemed adequate by the society in which they live, never for the purpose of self-mastery or for the purpose of fully understanding the world around them. The average American adult will have spent at least 10 years of their life being schooled in mathematics and English, but is incapable of articulating anything more than the most basic processes of arithmetic, is inhibited by poor vocabularies and is largely unable to maintain oral or written coherence. Americans are expected to begin the journey of self-mastery in their late teen years and early twenties, even though life clearly begins at birth. And as a result, the purpose behind our beings becomes buried beneath societal goals we have been forced to internalize. Though initially victims of circumstance, we ultimately grow to become our own hostages, imprisoned behind the bars of false incapacities that we ourselves prescribe and straightjacketed by crippling notions of our own design.
If we are to advance as human beings, there is no other recourse than to utterly abolish this mockery of reality and liberate ourselves and our children from this systematic genocide against the human mind. It is time we forever end this destructive and all together useless system of compulsory schooling. In its place, we must devise a system wherein education is regarded as an invaluable treasure, not as a costly commodity. Instead of demanding money and encouraging debt, this system would demand compensation only in the form of spreading knowledge. In lieu of school buildings and classrooms, this system would allow for all places, or in particular, specialty learning centers, workplaces, homes, parks and community gathering places, to serve as educational bases. Teachers would no longer exist as instructor, pedagogue, psychiatrist, judge, baby sitter, police officer and priest all rolled in one, nor would they have to lead classes of unreasonable amounts of children. Educators would instead serve us on a more individual basis as moderators to our intellectual inquiries. Curricular schooling, from which very few retain anything of substance, would cease to be the norm. Instead, informational and educational resources would be afforded to those of all ages with the utmost accessibility, allowing curiosity to be the principal guide for a learner’s mind. Government officials, who are merely the representatives of our will, must not be allowed to decide when, where or how we learn. That is a decision that must be left to us, our parents and our communities. Neither the homeschool nor the charter school extend far enough to free us of our educational shackles, as they too are governed by state regulations. Furthermore, it must be made illegal for employers to question an educational background in the same way that it is both taboo and illegal for employers to question religious affiliation. By giving credence to an Ivy League embossed paper rather than the human being the paper is meant to represent, we strip our society of humanity by denying ourselves the opportunity to truly discover the breadth of our abilities. The idea that college schooled individuals are more suitable for the task of leading our world is an illusion that must immediately be dispersed. Competency and ability must be the only questionable aspects of human being in regard to employability. Education must be made as free as religion in this nation. To this end, a new amendment to our Constitution must read:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of education, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
Though such action will not immediately solve our dilemma, it will be a step in the right direction. In order for the next generation to be free, it is upon us who are of age and of sound mind to deschool society. Such a call to action is far deeper than merely opening education to the free market, which would inevitably invite failure and doom. This is a call for Americans to rediscover what it means to be educated, what it means to be an American and most importantly, what it means to be a human being. We must decide together what the supreme ends of humanity are; we must search together for our purpose here. Should any government, established or burgeoning, ever form against us in that regard, it shall not prosper, as it is our right, it is our duty, to throw off such government and provide new Guards for our future security, for this is our heritage, the heritage of humankind, child and caretaker of the Earth.