What if school was out, forever?

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Then Alice Cooper would be the prophet, of course.


Reminds me of The Diamond Age by Neal Stevenson.

I like Neal Stephenson’s quote to a fan who asked them about creating the Primer in real life:

Kids need to get answers from humans who love them.


As far as the “education” aspect goes, I don’t think this is far-fetched at all, though it’s certainly a big undertaking to get it right.

But that’s such a trivial part of what school is for. Mostly it’s about indoctrinating kids into society. Partly by training our brains to accept sitting in a room obeying authority all week, but also by setting up Lord of the Flies situations that teach us how to use and / or submit to cruelty, sexual aggression, mob behavior and so on. That part would need replacing too, preferably with something nicer, but then again the bad parts can sort of work like a vaccine.


“No more pencils, no more books,
No more teacher’s dirty looks”

Truly the man was ahead of his time.


Parents revolt, as do their workplaces. Remember that part of the function school serves is as a sort of daycare. Sure, there’s always summer, but as the September editorial cartoons in every newspaper will attest: It’s considered a period to be endured. I’m not saying this is a bad thing, but as a society we’re so centered on labor as an end in itself that I think we forget about how much we’ve structured around labor.


And don’t forget the old Christmas Carol:

And Mom and Dad can hardly wait for school to start again

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What do we gain when we let students choose their own paths? What do we lose when we get rid of schools?

Even if we were to let students choose their own paths, we would never get rid of schools, because lots of students would choose the path of school, as well they should.

Of course, lots of students would choose paths different from school (as well they should), which is why schools have never advocated for letting students choose their own paths.

The simple truth that tends to be left out of discussions of education is that school is great for some kids and terrible for others (and simply a tedious chore for most, especially in secondary education).

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So much this.

Education should adjust to the children rather than us forcing the children to adjust to the education. Just so by the time they’re adults they’ve learned basic reason, logic, science, critical thinking, can communicate well, and can generally go about life without peeing in anybody else’s cheerios.

Not that we even get close to those standards now, despite a dozen years spent teaching things like ‘how to look cool bullying’ and ‘how to sit still’ and ‘how to not enjoy discovery’


Part of the function? That’s its main job.

Example: I remember being bored out of my skull in grade 1 during a lesson on how to tell the time, because it was old news to me.

Skip ahead to year 7 - there was a whole fucking chapter in the maths textbook on that very subject.

My best learning years, down the toilet.

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If your hypothetical involves having cheap, ubiquitous, access to expert systems strong enough to replace teachers; I hope you also have something in mind to replace ‘jobs’ for the students; because those expert systems are going to be doing a whole lot more than just teaching.

Also, why tablets, why?

I’m guessing for the same reason they’re putting touch screens on gaming desktops. So that you have to pay the extra expense even if it isn’t what you want, is useless, and seems specifically designed to make your user experience worse if implemented. Who the fuck wants a smudgy desktop screen?

Technology is easy, now. Using computers and whatnot isn’t anywhere near as difficult for lay folks as it once was.

Teaching, however, remains as difficult as ever.

I see no future in which teachers are not absolutely necessary. That work isn’t something you can design an app to do. Relationships are the bedrock to good teaching, and until computers can manage that, teachers will be people.

But what if those people are idiots/assholes?


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