Tuesday, September 17, 2013

How to facilitate education debate continues to grow

How to facilitate education debate continues to grow

(My Clovis News Journal column for August 16, 2013)

Sometimes the free market takes a bite out of the government's pie even though it means people are forced to pay for something twice: once for the government service they don't want and won't use, and once for the free market alternative they prefer.

Education is a prime example.

Almost everyone agrees education is critically important. Where people differ is in what they believe to be the best way to facilitate education.

Private schools are big business and provide the most mainstream educational alternative. However, most still use the same template and abide by the same standards set for government schools, and for a growing number of people that isn't good enough.

Therefore various methods of "home schooling" have arisen. Associating the word "schooling" with education is unfortunate, since they are unrelated, but it is an appropriate description for the majority of home education. Education can happen in a "school" environment, but it isn't the only way, and for many kids it is not a good way.

One of the fastest growing types of home education is called "unschooling". It recognizes that young humans are learning machines, until others manage to destroy that drive. Unschooling unhitches education from the "school" wagon.

You can't teach if no one is learning. It is up to the student whether to learn or not. If you stop to think about it you should realize teachers are cheerleaders at best, and roadblocks at worst. The best "teachers" simply let people learn.

It has been shown, for example, that kids will learn to read on their own when they decide to do so. All it takes is some incentive- such as being able to read instructions for video games or to be able to navigate the Internet. They learn when it is necessary for their life.

The same goes for anything else a person needs to know- the best time to learn something is when you need (or want) to know it, not when someone else decides you should. Things you learn on your own schedule, in your own way, will stay with you for the rest of your life, not just until your next test.

This isn't to say one way is wrong and another way is right- it's about allowing people to choose the path which makes the most sense for them, and not forcing them to subsidize anyone else's choice.

Competition is good. For now, alternative methods for education will keep having to compete with each other and with the government service. And free market alternatives will keep being chosen and keep outperforming.

And please don't forget.