Five ways schools destroy children’s freedom (and what to do about it)

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Five ways schools destroy children’s freedom (and what to do about it) By Jennifer Lade – The Daily Bell

Parenting for Freedom article series: This is the fourth in a series of articles that analyzes how freedom-loving people can align their parenting with their political philosophy, and how doing so will allow ideas about personal liberty to carry on to the next generation.


If you’re a freedom-loving parent, you’re probably doing all you can to give your children autonomy in their own lives. You’re treating them well in the present. But you’re also looking to the long-term goals of raising self-reliant adults who desire freedom for themselves and others. When your kids are with you, you treat them with respect and love.

But what other influence is undermining your message?

The answer: institutionalized schooling.

By their very design, schools restrict the freedoms of individuals to encourage conformity and obedience. Our public school model has its origin in Prussia, the defunct German kingdom that promoted universal schooling beginning in the late 17th century. The goal was not education, but social engineering. Dr. Peter Gray, a research professor of psychology at Boston College, wrote in his book, Free to Learn:

“The primary educational concern of leaders in government and industry was not to make people literate, but to gain control over what people read, what they thought, and how they behaved. Secular leaders in education promoted the idea that if the state controlled the schools, and if children were required by law to attend those schools, then the state could shape each new generation of citizens into ideal patriots and workers.”(p. 60)

Throughout the 19th century, countries across Europe enacted compulsory education in state-run institutions. In America, it all started in my home state of Massachusetts with Horace Mann. In 1852 he led the charge to require attendance in “free” community schools for all children ages 8 to 14 for at least 12 weeks per year.

Now, with attendance laws requiring more like 36 weeks per year for children ages 6 to 16, schools have much more time to destroy a child’s freedom. Here are five ways they do it.

  1. Compulsory attendance. I’ve already addressed this, but it bears repeating. Children are by law forced to go to school and have no choice in the matter. They are effectively prisoners in their institution for 30 hours each week, subject to truancy charges if they miss too many days of school. That makes everything else they are subject to in school even more egregious, since a child cannot opt out of the system without support from a parent.

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