>>Are you suggesting _all_ education be optional? How many 7-year-olds do you
>>know who have a thirst for knowledge? By your scheme, we'd have a
>>generation of functional illiterates who can't read a street sign or
>>multiply 6x7. Guess what happens to your personal standard of living when
>>the economy tanks because of the ensuing labor-quality crisis? When there's
>>nobody around to run the machinery, the machinery stops.
>Actualy, those 7-year-olds who don't aquire a thirst for knowledge, dispite
>motivational efforts, and aren't forced into school by their parents will
>grow up to be 10 or so when they decide to get a job.
Children start out with an intense thirst for knowledge. They are interested in everything, because they don't know any better. They are active experimental scientists, discovering the constituents of their environment and how they can manipulate them.
"I can cause thing-A to come into my field of vision. Thing-A is part of me. Thing-B is not part of me. If I wrap thing-A around thing-B, and move thing-A, then thing-B moves too. If I make noise, thing-C feeds me."
Then they meet parents who do not have an intense, diverse thirst for knowledge. Who tell them to shut up, and stop asking so many questions.
Then they meet teachers who do not have an intense, diverse thirst for knowledge. Who tell them to shut up, and stop asking so many questions. (See especially the writings of John Holt. And the song "Flowers are Red," by Harry Chapin.)
A few survive to adulthood with their intelligence, curiosity, imagination, and thirst for learning intact. (Imagine a world where all children did!)
If you want to reform education, worry about preserving these qualities. Start with the earliest years, and work your way up.
(I'm doing my revolutionary bit, with an end-around the school system, by writing books on thinking for yourself and subjects that excite *me*, like SETI, nanotech, and genetics, for kids aged 4-7. The tough part has been finding a publisher willing to do something that's never been done before. A few nibbles, but no bites so far.)
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