Misconceptions of Education

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It’s unfortunate that the discussion on education is centered primarily around schooling.

Schooling is a major component of education. It is the responsibility of teachers and professors to properly educate the students in their classes. And the vast majority of children in the west will go through some form of comprehensive education system, whether public or private.

This article is not meant to downplay the influence and role of formal education, but rather to emphasize the fact that this is not the entirety of education. And while we all acknowledge that parents should play an active role in their child’s education, that concept doesn’t appear to be fully understood.

It seems that many parents have outsourced much of childrearing to the state. While there are certainly many examples where the local public school can teach a child certain subjects better than his/her parents, this is definitely not always the case.

There have been numerous calls in recent years to add more basic responsibilities to the public school curriculum, like filing taxes, nutrition, budgeting, communication, skepticism, etc. The problem with this is not that schools shouldn’t teach these things, but rather the demand for schools to teach them in the first place. Why is there such a demand for schools to teach such basic subjects? Sure, a lot of trouble with filing taxes lies in the increasingly complicated tax system. But many of these subjects are basic enough that most parents should be familiar enough with them to pass that information on to their children.

Older generations complain that “kids these days” are entitled, disrespectful, and lack basic skill sets. And their complaints are not completely misplaced. It is the responsibility of every individual to seek knowledge and to become self-sufficient. But it is also the responsibility of each parent to do everything in their power to help their children achieve this.

No doubt every individual situation is different. This is not a call for every parent to homeschool their children (though that is an option). Some libertarians have done great work in providing alternatives to state schooling. And that’s absolutely fantastic.

However, the overall point is to critique the growing mindset of placing the responsibility of a child’s education on the state, rather than the family. When a new generation is lacking fundamental skills, we expect the state to start teaching these missing skills. And now, many American Democratic candidates are calling to extend this even further into free university education, on the basis that thirteen years of public schooling isn’t enough time to produce a well-rounded productive individual.

There are many ways to oppose the increasing intervention of the state into our personal lives. This is a non-ideological one. Progressives, conservatives, and libertarians can all agree that it is generally a good thing when parents take an active role in educating their children. This solution doesn’t require any policy proposals, nor does it require convincing anyone of any specific ideological position.

It only requires parents to take an extra step in their personal lives, where they have the most influence. Don’t outsource your child’s entire education to public schools. As Mark Twain supposedly said (though it was probably Grant Allen), “I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.”

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Nathan A. Kreider is the host of The Conversation, a podcast about ideas and how to spread them. He also publishes a blog and video content, including short book reviews, which can be found on his website nkreider.com. He can be contacted by email via [email protected]

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