Students are still encouraged in "public schools" to use their reasoning powers in math and science, but they are stopped cold when it comes to the deeper questions. Their growing abilities to reason are stifled by a constant diet of moral and spiritual oatmeal.
Even worse, students are often told to answer these questions using their feelings rather than their intellects. In fact, sometimes they are led to believe that there are no permanent truths and that each person must decide what is true for him or herself.
Moral traditions, the wisdom of the ages, and "revelations from God" in the various scriptures are often summarily dismissed as merely "the feelings of people long dead." A current fad in school-by-government in the U.S. is to teach students to believe that truth is all about feelings. Personal, private, ever-changing feelings.
Adults know that one of the most desperate desires of teens is to feel accepted by their peers. Most remember their own teen years when they longed to be independent and different but were easily caught up in a herd mentality. Too many students behave like anchovies and always stay a part of the group. Our government schools intensify this problem, and it's been getting worse for the five generations we've had school-by-government. (America had non-government-schooling for the prior seven generations.)
While no fun to tell you, I believe that most readers of this book who attended government schools in America in the last two generations were prevented from developing their potential intellectual acuity.2
Those who went to school since the 1970s bore the full brunt of this change. I am ashamed of myself because while I was given the gift of a private education through the tenth grade3where teachers did engage us in the Big QuestionsI was so unaware of the importance of it all that I did not pass this gift along to my children.
It wasn't deliberate on my part to deprive my children of the brainpower they might have developed. I wasn't paying enough attention, and at the time knew virtually nothing of what I write in this book. I did the easy thing and went along with the crowd. I guess I was an anchovy. Mea culpa.
As the saying goes, "Ve get too soon old and too late schmart."4 But perhaps I am schmart enough now to help you and your children get schmart sooner than I did.
My goal is for each reader to have a series of "Ah-Ha!" experiences, the kind where you exclaim, "I always wondered how that happened!" In fact, as you ponder the insights in this book, you may even come to agree with me that our schools have actually achieved a sort of "anti-education."
In my 14 years "as an educator" (1990-2004) I have used my position as an outsider to get a different perspective on what is beneath the surface in our schools. With the help of many associates and mentors, I believe we have gotten into the underlying assumptions inherent in state schooling-assumptions that conventional education scholars do not talk or write about.
On one level, the analysis of schooling on this website is sad. So many children have been hurt far more deeply that most of us can imagine.
On the other hand, you'll find more hope in this website than in a thousand school reform websites combined. You see, by getting to the underlying mistake it makes it possible for us to find a real solution.
Hence this website is not about reforming government schooling. The problem is government involvement in the content, attendance, approval, and financing of schools.
One cannot reform clay to build a functioning airplane. To achieve flight, one needs to transform the selection of raw materials to aluminum, steel, plastics, orala the Wright Brothers, Lillianthal, and Bleriotwood and fabric.
Similarly, one cannot reform the clay of government involvement in schooling. Charter schools, tax-funded vouchers, education tax-credits, longer days and longer years, less recess and more homework, or more and more standards and testing will simply take the clay of government and reform it into new globs that will prevent the next wave of children from getting intellectually airborne.
My hope is that Americans can recycle our idea that we shouldn't have government churching by recognizing that we also shouldn't have government schooling. Indeed, I believe that ending political involvement in schooling is the gateway needed to transform our schools into real, "Honest Education."
I believe that we'll do it gradually, one family at a time. In fact, in the U.S., we still have sufficient freedom that your family can enjoy most of the benefits of Honest Education right now without waiting for 50 percent plus one to vote on it. This is not the case in some countries, except for the rich who can send their children abroad to boarding school.
As more families move their children into Honest Education, teachers in the non-government schools will again engage their students in the Big Questions of Life. Johnny and Jill will again learn to develop their latent powers of reasoning. Parents will be reinforced at school, not undermined, and families can be restored to wholesome places for parents and children.
With strong families, Americans can reverse the decline of our culture and save our country from some sort of collapse into tyranny in our children's or grandchildren's day.
One more item: In any book on education, you deserve right up front the author's plain-language definition of education. Here's mine:
Education is the formation of a child so that he knows from where he came; to prepare him for both his earthly and his eternal destiny; and to empower him to freely choose both.