Through Schooling, Learning is Blacklisted

As Chris leaves for work, he mentions that he already has taken dinner from the freezer, it’s completely sorted. My brain acknowledges this fact and promptly blacklists any further dinner thought. I don’t need to concern myself with dinner, it is taken care of. So I don’t.

When children begin school, they get a similar message; learning is taken care of. What you need to know, you’ll be brought, when you need to know it by your teacher. Your teacher has it covered.

Nott only do they inform you that they have it covered, they express in so many different ways that they can cover this role even better than you could have ever begun to.

And how do you think this information transforms the child’s relationship with learning?


Suddenly, you don’t have to concern yourself with learning, you only need to keep this newly appointed gatekeeper of knowledge happy so that they continue to let you in on all the secrets.

Sometimes when my daughter asks me questions, I’m reminded of a time I had a similar thought but 8 year old me? I never asked. I never followed it up. I didn’t bother. Learning was not my domain to initiate.

Whatever I happened to stumble upon was either coming up via my teacher at a later date or it wasn’t and therefore must be fairly irrelevant. If something is important? Surely school is aware more so than I could be. I left the teaching to them.

I trusted school to cover my learning. Parents trust school. Society trusts school.

I know people will say “oh but school is only meant to be a piece of the puzzle” but it is sold as the piece that makes the rest of the picture make any sense. It is given the most time. It is given the most weight.

Compulsory schooling displaces a child’s responsibility, it detaches them from it and it promises them reward for doing so; “success”.

I was convinced to blacklist my own learning and it was the wrong choice. School should never have been the authority on my learning, that was always meant to be me.


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  1. For me it didn’t work out that way. I think it was dad’s constant tales of chicanery as a kid that setup my ambivalence towards authority figures. It probably also helped that both of my parents started out as teachers before they switched to accounting (to make money). My public school tone was pretty much set when I dropped out on the first day of kindergarten after my ‘teacher’ made an example of me as the ‘wrong way to color a picture.’ I hadn’t realized that school was compulsory, so I packed up my cigar box and walked home. I went back, in a different teacher’s classroom, but school never seemed like it would be able to give me enough, so I worked around it. That’s why we’ve decided to let our kids decide to unschool if they’d like.

    Having said all that, I completely agree that the message many schools, especially schools now, are sending is that they can simply program into you everything you need. In cases where that happens, that’s a huge disservice to the kids and to society as a whole.

    I think it depends on the educator as well though. I was lucky enough to have several teachers that encouraged me to explore things as far as I liked. I had teachers that supported me with their time, and their knowledge. I hear though that I was also very lucky.

  2. This is absolutely true in my case! When I was little, I wasn’t curious about anything I didn’t need to know for a test at school. I just didn’t care to figure out anything outside of school. Now that I homeschool my own kids, I am seeing children who are curious ALL THE TIME, morning, noon and night. They ask questions on vacation. (I sure didn’t!)

    I have also been a private tutor for 25 years. The kids that come after school only want to do their homework. They don’t want to actually learn beyond what they were assigned. When I try to help them learn beyond what they need to do for their teachers, they say, “I don’t HAVE to do that.” I would tell them, “well, this is just helping you learn even more.” But, they just turn their brains off.

    It’s so discouraging to try to teach them.

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