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I’m wondering, why should smart students stay in school when they could stay home and better educate themselves?

In this age of Google and the Internet if you took a smart kid who wanted to learn, they could self educate on the web and get a far better education than they can in public or private schools. School is like doing prison time to bright students when they have to endure teachers who are far dumber than they are. Smart students are forced to learn at a rate so slow it’s like watching grass grow.

I think that the school system is obsolete and that it’s time for bright people to quit wasting time and organize to self-educate. Let the first class be a social network of students and your first assignment is to organize into your own online school community.

Who likes this idea?




  1. zybch says:

    Sounds like a great excuse to add to the pointless internet echo chamber without anything really positive being achieved.
    Remember, the whole point of education ISN’T to teach students stuff, its to teach them how to learn in the first place, and letting them self learn will do very little to advance education in any country, even those with obviously questionable educational systems.

  2. No Limit dave says:

    A few Einstein Quotes on the Subject

    It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education.

    The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education.

    Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.

  3. Jay says:

    I have to say that if a kid has the desire to learn then giving them access to information would give them better opportunities than in school. In most of the schools today they don’t teach anything other than how to score on tests which is useless outside of the school walls. The only real problem I see is that you have to have a child who wants to learn first.

  4. Thomas says:

    Except for the exceptionally bright which already have separate education programs, I think it’s a short sighted idea. There is more to be learned at school than simply the right answers to a test. Off the top of my head, there is learning how to finish something, learning discipline of attending class each day, learning to interact with other students. At the college level, there is learning how to compete against other students and as well as discipline at self study and managing your time. Depending on non-tested, self-study sounds great but the reality is that even bright people can be lazy and without something to push them, the majority will not achieve the same success as they would if they stayed in school.

  5. bobbo, much we learn in life is wrong says:

    School is about 20% education and 40% socialization and 40% incarceration.

    But yea==society FAILS its gifted students more than it fails the retarded ones while breaking even on the average ones.

    Thankfully, there are other factors that shape our lives.

  6. Greg Allen says:

    As an Evangelical Christian I’ve met _tons_ of home schooled kids. Clearly, most of these kids are getting a good education. Most are confident and curious and have a remarkable lack of adolescent cynicism.

    Even so, I have my doubts, too. Home school kids often seem oddly socialized and I wonder how they will do in institutional settings as adults. And, like it or not, many employment situations are institutional.

    I think the research shows that kids who learn collaboratively with their peers do better in college.

    I have also seen some abysmal science teaching to home schoolers.

  7. ECA says:

    STOP,,
    SCHOOLING is..DAY CARE.
    Where you going to put your kid WHILE you are working?

  8. Cubmaster says:

    I defer to what Seth Godin had to say about the subject last week.

    “The solutions are obvious… there are tons of ways to get a cheap, liberal education, one that exposes you to the world, permits you to have significant interactions with people who matter and to learn to make a difference (start here). Most of these ways, though, aren’t heavily marketed nor do they involve going to a tradition-steeped two-hundred-year old institution with a wrestling team. Things like gap years, research internships and entrepreneurial or social ventures after high school are opening doors for students who are eager to discover the new.

    The only people who haven’t gotten the memo are anxious helicopter parents, mass marketing colleges and traditional employers. And all three are waking up and facing new circumstances.”

  9. Paul Camp says:

    What makes you think you’re bright?

  10. derf says:

    The problem is the dependence on the bell curve. Most schools prey on the “smart” students to help bring up the averages and tutor those at the bottom. Letting them out of the system would ruin the so called academic system. Additionally brilliant teachers that could help the smart students are being quashed in favor of a general one size fits all approach to progress. From what I have seen, schools are becoming more like daycare; focus more on benchmarks and not offending anyone, instead of building skills that focus on the realities of life.

  11. Father says:

    From my own experience, I now know that a functional person is one that has experienced a thoughtful cirriculum. Reading, writing, and math are the fundemental basis, add to that science, literature, political science, debate, history, and the arts, and you have someone who can understand the world and how to make his place in it.

    The need for classrooms has past. The student need only the assignments, exams, lectures (online), and a forum through which to interact with a mentor and peers.

    The cirriculum can be tailored to the ability of the student, and appropriate exams issued.

    If someone don’t want to learn nothing, let that person work and provide the access to an education if he later decides to make that investment.

    For many (most), an expensive private education is a status piece. An education shouldn’t be wasted on those that are not curious, but life isn’t always practical.

    A mind is a terrible thing to waste.

  12. rider says:

    I know my life would have been much different and I believe much better had I dropped out at 14 and taken the GED. I was smart but a horrible student, the classes were always way to slow for me.

    They finally figured this out when one year I volunteered to go to summer school, they had no class for the math class I needed so they gave me a math tutor. I learned 3 years worth of math in 6 weeks and passed the NYS regents exams with 98’s and 100’s to prove it.

    It’s one of those things that never occurs to most people, your kid may be to smart for school.

  13. Schleprock says:

    Every child is different. My experience is that the very stupid think that they are blessed with “common sense”. Most home schoolers that I know fall into three categories:
    1)Religious anti-science types.
    2)The semi-legitimate drop-out types.
    3)The super serious educator/ oddball maker.
    If you are truly smart, you will learn in most environments. I think that the exception is when schools are dangerous.

  14. Obnoxiousspellingdude says:

    Sorry but I have to do this… I’m not trying to troll, but I think you can’t really try to advocate reform in education and not proof-read (or worse, not realize your mistakes).

    #11: “fundemental”?
    “The need for classrooms has past.” — passed
    “cirriculum”?
    “If someone don’t want to learn nothing” — ugh…

    #12: “to” is not “too”; “I don’t want to proofread.” vs. “Proofreading is too much effort.” Also, no apostrophe if you’re pluralizing a number. Even if you’ve done that 100s of times before.

  15. Schleprock says:

    Obnoxiousspellingdude… You’re not a nun,are you?
    If I made any mistakes, they were intentional.

  16. nogos says:

    As a smart student (IMO), I used to consider the same thing. Turns out that without a structured environment like what a school provides, I tend to waste time and lose motivation. I need to actually go somewhere in order to give myself a reason to do what I need.

  17. ECA says:

    Besides being a DAYCARE..
    School is the place we learn to GET ALONG with each other.
    General Social interaction.

    BUT,
    as I have told other younger persons.
    I cant consider you an ADULT until..
    You hit 25+
    Have a home(rent/own)
    Paying your bills
    and NOT depending on Mommy/daddy..
    School does not PREPARE you for life(not much anymore). And by age 12-14, we should be teaching them JOBS. ALL kinds of jobs.
    Teaching that IF you dont figure out what you WANT NOW…you will be standing in 1 place for long hours, handing out change and burgers/toiletries/groceries/7-11/…

  18. Brock says:

    My fondest memory of high school was sleeping through it.

    Routinely my teachers would wake me to embarass me by asking a question I surely didn’t know, and I aced every one.

    The only class I stayed half awake for was Math, algebra through calculus, so I could correct the teachers mistakes.

    School is a convenience for lazy parents who could not care less for their kids.

  19. Scurvydog says:

    Zyb,Thomas… Typical uninformed comments.

    I pulled my kids out of school at middle school. That was six years ago. The public education system panders after the least common denominator. Special education and sports gets a majority of funding,

    Being in the tech industry we could afford my wife stay home and teach our children. The material was far superior to what is used in public schools. And thanks to Texas, their myopic decisions in text books trickle down to the rest of the US. You have a choice in well established, fully packaged training curriculum. Deep dives into science, Math, classic arts.

    Yes my kids did not have the Social interaction as their peers. They did not have the daily harassment. The Daily humiliation. The teaching environment where ever school in the US has to have a plan to strip search a child in case they have a aspirin or worse, a plastic toy of a gun.

    My daughter just tested in the top 10% of graduating people in the US and she could give John C a run for his money in deconstruction of any new article.

    Of course this is because her mom was able to spend the time with her going through these courses.

    I am purely useless and rate below the cats in the hierarchy of the house.

    /p

  20. akallio says:

    “No child left behind” means no child gets ahead — Jerry Pournelle.

    The real reason for school is to teach them to follow orders, to prepare them for the Pointy Haired Bosses to come. A college diploma shows you can survive the regime without giving up.

  21. bill says:

    I think what schools should really do is provide the opportunity for kids to be exposed to as much ‘stuff’ as possible and then they can see where their interest lies.

    At least that is what happened to me.

    Once I learned a little about it, that was it! I was hooked!

    Technology… not drugs…

  22. Thomas says:

    #20
    Typical generalist comment. Because you lived near crappy schools, all schools are crappy.

    You sent your kids to crappy public elementary and/or high school. You could have moved or sent your kids to private school but you chose home schooling. Ok. You said that your daughter tested in the top 10%; bully for you. For the other 99.999999999% of America that A: cannot afford one of the parents staying home and B: that parent is not smart enough and disciplined enough to teach elementary through HS, they need to rely on the school system.

    I went to private elementary and private HS and I considered my education to be pretty good. I base that on my experience in college competing against other kids from other high schools as well as the fact that most of the students with which I graduated HS also graduated from college. Do I think the public elementary through HS is broken? Absolutely and especially in CA but that does not mean that structured schools in general are broken.

    Frankly, many people I met in college did not know how to discipline themselves to finish (which is why many did not). They did not truly grasp the concept of competing against their peers as opposed to just knowing the material. That is the stuff that **ought** to be taught at the Junior High and HS level but is not.

  23. Thomas says:

    #22
    To an extent, I agree. However, every student should finish HS having some basic skills:
    1. They should be able to use the English language properly both in speech and in writing.
    2. They should be able to do some math without using their fingers and be able to work through a problem.
    3. They should be able to understand the fundamentals of the scientific method and how scientists go about finding truth.
    4. They should have some basic grasp of their country’s history and especially how their government was designed and how it currently operates.

    The problem these days is that public schools are graduating many students that cannot even do these things. The very concept of not graduating someone is an anathema to people. That is in part what NCLB was about: verifying that students are actually learning what teachers claimed they learned.

  24. ECA says:

    bill,
    CORRECT..
    tech schools..Expose them to EVERYTHING..
    BUT UNDERSTAND THAT…
    most places only need 1 person to do the job.
    MANY labs have 1-2 persons that KNOW everything, and 40-100 idiots that run the tests under THAT supervision.
    1 IP Pro, and 3-4 people to sit and WATCH..
    1 RADIO ANNOUNCER, and 20 people to run the station..
    4 actors and 100 to do the sets and makeup..
    1 football star, and 10,000 wannabe..1million fans..

  25. Tobiah says:

    I like this idea a lot. So did my parents.

    I was completely homeschooled until college. Now I have two Bachelors of Science degrees, yet no highschool diploma or GED.

    K-12 schools are just terrible places to learn. I don’t think I could have stand them. I am so glad my parents were able to take care of me at home, hire private tutors and teach me self motivation for learning.

  26. B. Dog says:

    I remember some hot teenage chicks in high school.

  27. Glenn E. says:

    It’s strange to see how much children in developing “third world” countries, love their school. For them, it’s a positive escape from the near hopeless poverty, of their home lives. And naturally, they don’t have access to libraries and the Internet (or Tv, radio, newspapers).

    And it was once like that, in America, way back in the days of the little red school houses. Out in what was mostly wilderness America. But Americans now, have so much media access, that they’re spoiled and complacent about schooling. Problem kids get herded in with the rest. Because the public system isn’t prepared to deal with trouble makers. And it’s generally become a place to get the slightly better off students ready for some junior college. And the rest, ready for menial jobs or military service.

    The much better off, go to private “finishing” schools. And then on to Ivy League colleges. There are very few, if any, trouble makers tolerated there. And being smart has got nothing to do with it. Look at the last US President. All his father’s wealth, political connections, and an Ivy League education, did make him any genius. And not being one, didn’t stop him from getting the very top US job.

    So it comes down to money. Not smarts. Sure, plenty of smart kids, in the public schools, never get a break. And plenty of dumb kids, of the wealthier class, get groomed for high office or executive positions, they rarely deserve or do well at. That’s what America has become.

    Want to fix it? Stop electing political candidates, chosen by huge, corporate financed parties. And investing in corporations, run by boards of family dynasties. We’ve put too much of our faith, in the wealthy class, to do the right thing for the rest of us. When they’re more likely just thinking of what’s good for themselves. And we should be happy to be along for the ride.

    How does this fix the public schools? Well the politicians always talk of better funding, and equipping these schools. But they never seem to get around to doing it. And cut funding every chance they get. And perhaps if they weren’t so worried that there won’t be enough graduates, to fight in some war. They wouldn’t be keeping the trouble makers in with the rest of the students. It’s almost like they’re afraid decent kids will turn out too peace loving. So they keep the bad apple in, to rotten them all up a bit. England has had the same love affair with the “school bully”, tempering the rest.

  28. Ghost says:

    Our society requires you to have a little piece of paper signed by the dean of your school in order to get a decent job. Doesn’t matter what you do (or don’t) know.

  29. amodedoma says:

    #30 Ghost

    Absolutely! Stupid system to classify people in their appropriate social caste. If mom and dad are rich you go to a ‘good’ school and get a ‘good’ job. Or if you’re amazing, and get enough encouragement at home, you ‘might’ earn a scholarship. Then again you could get student loans, or you could work through school. But obviously it’s all a lot easier if your family is rich.
    OTOH if you’re lucky enough to be able to afford higher education, you’ll have 20 years in schools. How long are you going to live? How much time are you willing or able to spend in this way.
    Screw the system, dare to be a loser. Get off that exercise wheel little lab rat and be free! Or, in the words of the great Dr. Timothy Leary – tune in, turn on, drop out.

  30. peter says:

    education should expose you to different points of view, not reinforce what you *think* you already know (there is a lot of arrogance on display here, much of it likely unwarranted). we often learn the most from other people and their ideas, even when they may not be as intelligent as ourselves. we’ve already seen what happens when people choose news coverage to match their own biases and opinions. what would happen if education worked the same way? this is, frankly, a stupid idea, and i look forward to the inevitable failure of home schooling as a movement, if not as an individual choice.


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