Is school even necessary?

I loved this TED talk!  The ideas are revolutionary and thrilling.  Much of what he describes is the essence of unschooling.

My favorite parts were:

  • The reasoning behind the modern education system, and why it is now obsolete.
  • “Encouragement is the key.” – I have seen this every day in the lives of my children.  Drilling, testing… all of that is unnecessary to education.  Children need only to be encouraged for their fire to burn and for learning to unfold naturally.
  • “Punishment and examinations are seen as threats.”  – Our brains shut down when threatened!  Imagine the possibilities for learning if a child’s brain was not being threatened, but rather, encouraged.
  • We must shift the balance from threat to pleasure. – When a child is thrilled to be learning, there is no limit to what she will learn and retain from that learning.
  • “It’s not about making learning happen, but about letting it happen.”  – YES!

I’ve read a few comments about this talk, with many educators worried that if children are allowed to only pursue what interests them, they will never learn the more mundane and “boring” tasks that are necessary, like handwriting, spelling, and math facts.  I have to say and believe that this is untrue.  However, instead of learning those tasks as a separate subject, one that is drilled over and over, it is merged with real learning.  If a child is interested in something, they will eventually find themselves writing about it.  I have seen my own children motivated all on their own to improve their own handwriting, simply so that their stories or notes can be more legible to themselves.  Spelling emerges naturally when learning and writing about something of interest.  Math is everywhere, and it is surprising how naturally it comes into everyday life and learning, and weaves its way into each subject.

Bravo for bold ideas!