Montreal, September 30, 2007 • No 235




Gennady Stolyarov II is a science fiction novelist and philosophical essayist, and is Editor-in-Chief of The Rational Argumentator. He lives in Chicago.




by Gennady Stolyarov II


          Many parents today send their children to day care, preschool, kindergarten, and public school, thinking that these institutions will educate their children and form vital skills. Yet, if anything, attending these places of collective “learning” retards rather than stimulates education – especially in the youngest kids. To assure greater academic progress and, above all, greater happiness for children – particularly the brightest children – it is essential to educate them at home for as long a time as possible.


          We only need to contrast the two environments – the home and the collective education facility – to see the overwhelming advantages of home learning.

          At home, the child has several adults devoted primarily to his or her learning – as well as that of any siblings he or she might have. These adults know their children like nobody else, and the strength of their devotion is usually unmatched. Furthermore, these adults will be in charge of raising the children for at least sixteen to eighteen years and will continue to play crucial roles afterward.

          At the collective education facility, there is typically one adult for twenty to thirty children – and that is considered a fairly low ratio! These adults have too little time to devote to the development of any individual child, even if they tried to in earnest. Furthermore, they typically interact with any given child for only a few months to a year, thus not having a compelling stake in that child’s further development. Even if they cared for a particular child who has moved on from their classroom, they cannot act on their sentiments. After all, they have twenty to thirty new children to supervise and focus on!

          At home, parents have the incentive to provide the best educational resources for their children: books, software, educational toys, films, and even private tutors for subjects in which the parents themselves are not highly knowledgeable. Furthermore, these resources will often be targeted toward the specific aptitudes, interests, and skills of the children.

          At the collective education facility, the resources devoted to each of the many children are necessarily less in quantity than those which parents can provide to a few children. Furthermore, the resources are often distributed in a communistic fashion. It is impossible to overlook the fact that “everybody’s” toys, “everybody’s” classroom, “everybody’s” books, and “everybody’s” education are truly nobody’s toys, classroom, books, or education – and thus nobody among the children has a real incentive to approach these matters with the care and attention they deserve. Besides, in collective education facilities, too much emphasis is placed on the virtue of “sharing” and not enough on the value and absolute necessity of private property.

          At home, parents and children can agree on educational schedules that suit each particular child. Some children might be early risers; others might like to sleep in. Some children like to work continuously for long stretches of time. Others work better in short bursts of productivity interspersed with breaks. So long as the children accomplish their learning objectives, parents are likely to be lenient about the structure with which they like to work.

"At home, bright children are praised, rewarded, and given additional materials to further stimulate their curiosity and develop their abilities. At the collective educational facility, bright children are bullied, taunted, and pressured to conform to the lowest common denominator."

          At collective education facilities – especially for the youngest children – every child is subjected to the same schedule, irrespective of needs and preferences. Perhaps the sheer torture of having to wake up at 6:00 a.m. might make some children less eager to learn and less adept at processing information than they otherwise would have been. Collective education facilities – especially public schools – are regimented in a Draconian manner. Everyone eats at the same time, has recess during the same time, and – at some day cares and preschools – takes naps at the same time. Many public elementary schools force children to walk in lines as a class to any destination whatsoever. Are these children or soldiers? Or are they prisoners? Surely, only the military camp and the prison have policies similar to these.

          Some might argue that such regimentation prepares children for the workplace. However, they overlook the fact that adults choose their jobs and their schedules; many explicitly base their decision to work at a firm on the kind of work environment, work hours, and travel opportunities or lack thereof that the firm offers. In fact, virtually all of adult discipline in a free market is voluntarily sought after by those who perceive some great personal advantage in following it. On the contrary, collective education facilities force children to behave in seemingly arbitrary ways without even any explanation as to those ways’ merits (or the fact that they primarily stem from administrative convenience). While they rigorously impose the kind of external discipline that deprives children of the freedom to make their own decisions, collective education facilities fail miserably at cultivating the internal discipline – both practical and moral – required for any functioning adult.

          At home, bright children are praised, rewarded, and given additional materials to further stimulate their curiosity and develop their abilities.

          At the collective educational facility, bright children are bullied, taunted, and pressured to conform to the lowest common denominator. The better teachers protect the intelligent and productive students, but all too many of them side with the majority and accuse bright kids of mysteriously “monopolizing” the learning environment.

          At home, children have strong incentives to learn from their parents and adopt the habits, attitudes, interests, and even fashions of older and wiser adults. They are surrounded by opportunities to acquire knowledge, prudence, good taste, and moral habits.

          At the collective educational facility, children are primarily in the company of their peers and thus are strongly pressured to adopt fads that are at best inane and at worst devastating to proper development. This is also where children learn to curse, make obscene jokes, harass kids who are “different,” and equate fun with dissipation.

          In a society that is, thankfully, still largely characterized by a free market, it is a shame that the very young largely live under a system of genuine communism. This system not only leads them to underperform academically; more importantly, it leads them to regress in their morals and practical habits while tormenting and repressing the brightest among them. Parents who wish the best for their children are well advised to keep them at home – preferably until college. The child’s higher standardized test scores and abundance of knowledge and character will speak for the merits of this approach.


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