This is my take on how I think modern education should work. Feel free, as always, to point out where I’ve made any errors.
Small communities, and often parents, educate their own children using a combination of their own knowledge and resources provided by public libraries and free material from the internet. Where a lack of time exists for parents to teach, other, (trusted) adults look after the education of other children. This creates the vital association in children between learning and play. Rather than having education be like a factory, it now has the opportunity to be an adventure that merges all subjects into a holistic experience of life.
Communities hold meetings between parents/guardians designed to facilitate the exchanging of information about how to teach children according to their passions and strengths, how to instill a sense of urgency, teach them to meet deadlines, and so forth.
Children makes friends during various activities (i.e. sports, music, religious groups, etc), some of which provide the opportunity for cross-cultural exchanges. The money saved from not spending on public education could support this, and could also supplement university expenses, reducing the cost of college.
Variation in skill and drive between students becomes much more apparent to universities going through the acceptance process, which allows them to more accurately predict success from their applicants and select accordingly. This would make higher education much more elite and valuable to students, while the average person does not waste time and money in institutions that won’t help them.
Young students are not forced to spend hours a day with peers that make them insecure. This keeps society from being made up of people whose identities are formed by their negative childhood experiences. Instead, parents have more of a say in who the kids spend time with. Bullying, which at its core is a form of sexual selection, goes way down. The physical and mental health of the public increases.
Economic success begins to more accurately reflect biological capability. Less waste, more efficient schooling, and greater mental health make economies much stronger, and more capable of supporting roles in society which are not designed to acquire wealth.
As I see it there are two major reasons why my idea above cannot be implemented on a massive scale, at least in the United States.
1. The United States is, to go with a more euphemistic term, not “homogeneous enough” to support this kind of system. While Switzerland considers a minimum income of 2,500 Francs a month for each citizen, the United States considers amnesty for many thousands of illegal Latin American immigrants and fixing Detroit. If everyone just started homeschooling, the current underclass would become even more disadvantaged, because children who are naturally unmotivated to learn would no longer have public school to force them to be productive.
2. The power of the state to impose its will on students would be dramatically reduced. I suspect that to have fewer people dependent on its 40-hour workweek is a scary idea, because people would have more time for things other than work and consumption. Cultural groups might start getting more sympathy than the state, and our conception of the official version of history and current events might not be how the state prefers it to be. I think the government also prefers us to be laden with debt,
Still, individual families can still do this, and small schools in rural areas are probably already like this in some respects, and I guess may have been for some time. There are plenty of smart people who haven’t been to college, and plenty of people who don’t derive their worth from their status. If you want to be your own master, you just have to be able to resist a world that doesn’t want you to be.
“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.” -Robert A. Heinlein