Melissa Todd makes the case against sending kids to school.
I’m enjoying the way we’re all in agreement now, post-Covid, that education should be voluntary, a suggestion I’ve been making for decades. Only people who want to be taught should be. For most people, after all, education is a mocking cruelty, teaching them only what they’ll never have. Study hard, be patient, diligent, learn self-control, delayed gratification, fail anyway. Their near-inevitable floundering has nothing to do with their level of effort and everything to do with the society in which they dwell. 60% of musicians in the charts went to private schools. Two-thirds of the cabinet went to private schools. Only 3% of journalists have parents in unskilled occupations, against 17% of the general public. I could go on. You get the idea. There’s only a tiny amount of room at the top, and no one’s prepared to surrender it. The trouble with the notion of upward mobility is it relies upon downward mobility, and the people at the top tend not to fancy that.
Education does, of course, have some advantages, particularly to parents: it lets them earn, and saves them some of the wearisome burden of child-rearing, which, particularly to the parent who cares about his child’s well-being and future, is a fear-inducing, endless chore. It may occasionally have some advantage to the child too: feeding him, spotting signs of abuse. But let’s not pretend it makes any impact on a child’s future. And considering how much money and time and anxiety is lavished on the education system, I’m sure these few limited outcomes could be accomplished much more cheaply. A giant football stadium type affair where we could park our children and let them run about while we go to work, with CCTV and free buns. Or better yet, let them go to work too. Why stave off the inevitable? Most will go on to lead pointless, mindless existences, packing up Amazon parcels: what possible benefit derives from making them wait? Only this hypocritical lip service to the notion that some of them might one day accomplish something more. It’s a lot to pay for a lie. Of course, some of them might pass all their exams and become teachers, perpetuating this outrageous fallacy upon future generations of children, but do you really think that possibility is worth £90 billion per annum?
Recently I read about a woman who’s spent lockdown teaching her children about personal grooming and how to increase their social media presence, so they might become influencers or, with luck, Love Island contestants. She tried to make them do their homework, but they didn’t want to, and she didn’t force the issue, because honestly, what was the point?
We were invited to despise this woman, and yet it seems September will see more of us regarding education as optional, rather than a compulsory requirement. Covid has helped us all recognise that education for most of the population is completely pointless. Let them stay feral. The sooner children cease to spend fifteen solid years sitting in classrooms that confer no benefit beyond recognising the paucity of their own existence, the barrenness of their likely future, the sooner I shall cheer. The money we will save! The unachievable dreams and hopes that need never burn in a child’s breast! Fifteen years is a huge percentage of one’s life to waste, particularly for the poor, who have a lower life expectancy anyway. Let the poor little brats enjoy themselves.