Jim Davies
Write-in Libertarian for Governor

If You're Still at School

Quick: print this page out, so that you can come back and think about it later, in case you don't have time to read much right now.

See, I'd rather like you to spend some time with this, because it's important. But I realize there might be something more urgent about to go on, or some different interest that catches your attention. So, I tried to make it easy to attend to it later.

I did that because everyone learns only when he wants to learn. When his or her attention is undivided, his interest riveted on the subject. And in the nature of busy lives, that interest may not last too long at any one moment.

Now, how does that match what happens at school?

Rigid Classrooms

Not too well, right? At 9.12 am, you might have an interest in, say, how stomachs digest pancakes and syrup; but there's that teacher droning on about geometry. Then at 10.20 am you might fix your mind on why it's called a right angle and not a left angle, but now some other teacher is trying to make you think about frogs.

What's worse, she's going too fast for you, or too slowly, and each of those is about as bad as the other. If it's the first you may never catch up so it's frustrating and if it's the last, well, it's bor-ing.

Fact is, in any classroom at any time, you will actually learn something ONLY if you (a) happen to have an interest in what is being taught, AND (b) have your mind in gear to move at about the same speed as the teacher wants to drive. If either or both of those conditions aren't met, it's a total waste!

How often are they both in place, would you say; once a day for ten minutes? Once a week? Less often? Then all the rest is, yes, a "total waste." That's exactly what's happening, to what could have been the best 12 years of your life.

Now, a good teacher can make a difference. Not much, but some. If he or she can get so excited about the subject that you find an interest in it being stirred up even though you arrived with none, condition (a) above may get met. But can she do it for the whole class, of 20 or 30 people? - That's a tough job; for everyone's mind works differently. Everyone is unique.

You know what happens if he can't; eyes wander, thoughts fly out the window, surreptitious notes get passed, and nobody learns anything at all and those who were out too late last night nod off to sleep.

If any of this seems familiar, we've now seen the reason: learning, or education is something that only rarely takes place in classrooms. It's simply the wrong environment!

When We Learned Best

Surprise: no human being (perhaps no animal, for that matter) ever learns at a faster pace than in the first weeks and years of life. Think about it!

Here's a newborn baby, knowing zippo. One day later, she has figured out the difference between warm and cold, light and dark, sucking and not sucking, and a few other things. Her store of knowledge is a-building, very fast indeed.

A year or two later, she will have grasped the elements of verbal communication, in whatever language happens to have surrounded her since birth, with its jumble of strange grunts and noises. You and I take years to learn a second language, and even then we may speak with a strong accent and limited vocabulary, and we have the enormous advantage of having the new one explained in terms of the one we know; Babe has none of that, yet does the job better and faster than we do. Amazing. Why?

Because she really wants to learn; she has a sharp interest in the subject. And because she can observe, and mimic, and "question" and explore, at whatever pace she finds convenient. Conditions (a) and (b) above are splendidly fulfilled... and yet she doesn't even know what a "classroom" is.

Wouldn't you think that just maybe, we who are rather older might learn something from the astonishing performance of human beings under five? - I mean, there they are, with no "school", no formal learning environment whatever (they are being "Home-Schooled") yet they acquire skills FAR faster than we do, but instead of trying to emulate them, to find out what they are doing right and do the same ourselves, we go away and do the opposite?

I mean, how dumb can one get?

Who Did This Thing?

Of course, you and I did not get up one morning at the age of six or so, and decide, Well, I've had enough of this high-speed learning, I want to slow down, so it's time I went to School.

Not a bit of it; we were all told, by those we had trusted all our lives, that School was a place where we'd have even more fun, acquire even more knowledge, satisfy our every curiosity, and all the rest of that stuff. What do you think; how have those promises worked out, for you?

Your parents were only going along with what they had been taught - not just when at the same age as you, but throughout the next twelve dreary, endless years of government school. When it's drummed into people that School Is Best, Stay in School, Work Hard and you'll Do Well, and the rest, it's not easy to Question Authority.

Yet that's exactly what I'm inviting you to do, right now. Question Authority!

You've heard about lemmings, right? Small furry critters, suddenly rushing in huge herds (or flocks, or whatever) over the edge of a cliff to their certain deaths. Suppose you were a young lemming, in the middle of a crowd like that. Could you say, "Hey, no, wait a minute, I want to think about this. Where, exactly, did someone say we must run?"

"Authority" is powerful, especially when everyone seems to agree with it.

What To Do

Main reason I'm running for Governor is, I want to stop this nonsense. Kids need to learn, not to conform. Childhood is something to enjoy, not to be bored to tears - or worse.

See, I want to end the boredom and re-start the learning, the utterly thrilling exploration of life. That means, as we saw above, that schools as we know them have to end. Today, there's very little choice: Authority (that's the government) says we have to go, or at least that our parents have to pay for them anyway, which is nearly the same thing, and that's an end to it.

But I believe in choice. Your choice, and of course your parents' choice since they are the ones looking after you. I want to break the grip that government (Authority) has, over what ought to be 12 delightful years.

Here's what you might do, after reading this over a few times and making sure you agree. Take it to Mom and Dad, and say something like, "Mom, Dad, I want to quit school so I can start learning."

That ought to get their attention, and of course it may bring down a heap of parental scorn on your head. Perhaps they will see the point at once, but more likely you'll need to show them this page (so print it out, beforehand) and very probably all the other pages on this Web site. Then if you're wired at home, take them to this site on the computer and let them explore it all in full, living color. The URL is www.TakeLifeBack.com/gov

Be patient with your parents, for as we get older it gets harder and harder to grasp ideas that are new, that conflict with silly ideas we may have held for a long time. You know your parents, so you'll be able to bring them along at the right speed.

Very likely, they'll think of all sorts of objections: "How do you suppose we can make do, if Mom quits her job to be your teacher?" will probably come up in the first few milliseconds, so it's as well to be ready for it.

The answer is to take them here, to see how they can get rid of the "property tax", which is what they have to pay to keep you in the government school. That money will not be quite as much as what Mom probably earns (net after other taxes) but it will go a long way to answer the objection. And then take them here, to see how they can immediately dump the burden of "income tax" as well. Add those two savings up, and they will see that the cost of home-schooling you will be small, especially when compared to the pleasure of having your company all day.

Another common objection will be "Look, I know we're smart, but we're not THAT smart. We're not trained teachers!"

To that you can tell them, "Relax! You don't have to be." And it's true. Home schooling parents have proven over many years to be better teachers than those at government schools, by two full grade years - even though neither parent is a trained teacher. Why? - It's because they teach only what the child wants to learn, at each particular moment.

Sure, you'll ask loads of questions to which Mom may not know the answer. But she will know where to go and find the answer. And increasingly, you'll be able to find the answer for yourself, using - what? - the Internet!

How to Make It Happen

On this page we've seen that almost everything you're familiar with by way of "school" has very little to do with true learning, or "education". Some people do succeed, of course, but it's in spite of the government's monopoly on the business of teaching, not because of it. Because a few teachers succeed in battling the bureaucracy, and a few students manage somehow to keep their thirst for knowledge alive despite the drudgery.

I want that sucess to be yours and every other student's, so that every one can be fulfilled, as far as their natural talents allow. And that means the school monopoly has to end: that you transfer to a true learning environment.

That's a very big job, but you can help. I've set up another page here, to suggest how anyone can lend a hand, spending no money and very little time. So if you found this worth your time, please go there now - and thanks for reading!

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