Some people are under the impression that brilliant minds will always supercede the potential of their institutionalized learning environments, causing them serious conflicts. Few will doubt that brilliant minds find intellectual constriction in all universities and mandatory schooling. A genius cannot bear the pain of others fumbling with a simple subject. I doubt this theory; rather, I believe that strict and required schooling sterilizes the potential for brilliance in our young. Those who survived schooling and continued to think were only the strongest of the will and the greatest of heart. All children at their start are tumultuous, curious, and highly experimental. This spirit can only die if it is forced into school. Mandatory schooling has never consisted of anything but the memorization of monotonous and dead facts, with training to master repetitious behavior. For the greater part of their day, the words of children's lips must match the interests of their school teachers. Their behavior must coincide with a set policy and a set regulation. They cannot use the bathrooms without permission. If they wish to speak, they must raise their hands; talking in order to speak is restricted only to the class of adults. After every half hour or every hour, a bell rings and everyone must move. There is no point in the day where anyone asks the child: What are you thinking? What are your worries? What are your plans? This daily grind becomes a ritual for the child. It becomes the plot background for their television shows and books, the ideology that is taught to them by teacher and parent alike, and finally, it becomes the verses for their prayers. An entire mono-culture is developed, entirely directed at convincing children that submitting to their authority is for their own best interest. "Believe us and support us... All of the good things you have today are because of us. Believe that." Mandatory schooling is the closest ally of oligarchy and oppression.
Their environment is similar to that of a prison: by the "population" lacking any ability to check the authority of the warden, their grievance process becomes a matter of rubber-stamping. It is always "subject to our rules, our means of investigation, and judged by us." Naturally, without any democratic control of their community, students, like inmates, will attack and brutalize each other. School shootings, gang violence, bullying and hazing. The youth's violence problem is directly related to the fact that they have no control over their entire lives; the only control they can have is between each other. Mandatory schooling will only produce a society of children who are either terrified of the tyranny of others or have been raised to perpetually exploit the condition of others. As in the prison system, the child's presence in certain buildings and their engagement in state-regulated behavior is under penalty of imprisonment. An entire army of truancy officers have been hired to make sure that there is no child on the other side of the bars. With this forced-cohabitation, abuses will only become a daily occurence. The minister in A Clockwork Orange is known for one remarkable bit of wisdom...
At the end of eighteen years of coercive, state authority, the child is released into the world. "Now that you're trained to do as you're told, you can be free." The produce of these schools, this state-controlled manufacturing operation, is willing to submit, to obey, and to listen. Civilized members of society can only truly develop when they are allowed access to everything they need. Mandatory education is incompatible with this idea. Forced behavior, which technically amounts to a type of slavery, will only inculcate a mindset of fear and terror.
Curriculum. You need to be somewhere at a set time. Either at the orders of an authority or a bell, everyone in one mass shifts to another position and another place to engage in a new activity. It is a training not just to follow instruction, but it is also a training follow a certain behavior in cooperation with those who share the same condition as us. Rules, regulations, and laws are set out for the children. You can to this to others. You cannot do this to others. This is acceptable. This is not. We are taught to cooperate with one another. Standards of culture, morality, and behavior are inculcated in these blossoming minds. The first lesson asked us to believe in the orders of authority. The second lesson asked us to work with each other to achieve the desired ends of those in control. If a group of children are taught to engage in the same behavior regardless of their what they want to do, then they will never fight back as adults. This is your group of tenants who will live in roaches and never call the health inspector. This your group of citizens who easily frightened by police officers into "voluntarily" giving up their rights. Workers who are threatened by the idea of a union, readers who never question the angle of the newspapers or the media, consumers who identify the products they buy with their own lives. These are the fruits of mandatory schooling.
The overseers of these once untouched youth are hardly free from prejudice, discrimination, and bigotry. Children soon learn how to manipulate the system to their personal advantage. The students who excel in athletics and represent the school are naturally rewarded for their involvement. Those elected to the powerless position of school president are given specific privileges. Even the academic and "scholarly," college-bound group is easily pardoned for breaking the rules. But to the rest of the school, every law is harshly enforced with maximum punishments. The tone of a principal is like that of a warden: with no check on their authority, they will always have a way of using their coercive ability to enforce a standard on the population. Whether it's a standard of reading the prison-issued Bible and respecting the guards, or whether it's your participation level in programs that benefit the school administration, a very strict and painful punishment awaits those who disobey an undisputed, authoritarian force. There is no doubt that an active student body reflects positively on school administrators. Like factory floormen, they're fulfilling their quotas to the inspecting superintendent of the local school district. All school programs are directed towards the interests of the school and those who engage in unsanctioned assembly or association are strictly punished. In West Virginia, a student was suspended for fifteen days for wearing a T-shirt that read, "When I saw the dead and dying Afghani children on TV, I felt a newly recovered sense of national security. God Bless America." She also had been promoting an unauthorized club, the Anarchist Student Union. [*1] In Michigan, 2003, a student was suspended for wearing an anti-Bush T-shirt for the words "international terrorist." [*2] It is ironic that the administration is allowed to use these words, in fact, all officials are encouraged to use fear-based politics to achieve their ends. At the same time, those who criticize the ruling administration are classified as "a threat to the general public," and removed from the system. That is the reality of mandatory schooling.
Even the Parent-Teacher Association and other national organizations in the United States are supportive of mandatory schooling. There is nowhere for the child to turn. Their culture must be developed in the company of their fellow students, against an invasive curriculum, cruel professors, and a world that has accepted forced schooling. What at first was a bitter, disgusting pill that we suffered through becomes something that we feel must be forced on others -- and so it happens, that those who graduate probably learned only one thing through school: if it weren't for compulsory education, people can't learn anything. Truancy officers are the final realization of this cultural idea of forced education. The state will fold its arms and turn away when the children in the nation are homeless, on the streets, and suffering from malnutrition and hunger. But the moment the child does not appear in school at the scheduled time, the police are alerted; soon, both the child and the parents are usurped by the law. Billions of tax dollars are spent on this corrupt, ailing system of "modern education," when even the most basic of human needs is not met for the citizen. It is as absurd and inefficient as it is cruel, inhumane, and unjust. Until the abolishment of mandatory schooling, the child will be brought up as a slave to become a slave in adult life.
1. "No anarchy club in Kanawha County, WV," by Dana Hull, San Jose Mercury News Staff Writer, Published January 24, 2000, in the San Jose Mercury News.