Five Ways Schools Destroy Children’s Freedom (And What To Do About It)

By Jennifer Lade

Parenting for Freedom article series: This is the fourth in a series of articles that analyzes how freedom-loving people can align their parenting with their political philosophy, and how doing so will allow ideas about personal liberty to carry on to the next generation.

If you’re a freedom-loving parent, you’re probably doing all you can to give your children autonomy in their own lives. You’re treating them well in the present. But you’re also looking to the long-term goals of raising self-reliant adults who desire freedom for themselves and others. When your kids are with you, you treat them with respect and love.

But what other influence is undermining your message?

The answer: institutionalized schooling.

By their very design, schools restrict the freedoms of individuals to encourage conformity and obedience. Our public school model has its origin in Prussia, the defunct German kingdom that promoted universal schooling beginning in the late 17th century. The goal was not education, but social engineering. Dr. Peter Gray, a research professor of psychology at Boston College, wrote in his book, Free to Learn:

The primary educational concern of leaders in government and industry was not to make people literate, but to gain control over what people read, what they thought, and how they behaved. Secular leaders in education promoted the idea that if the state controlled the schools, and if children were required by law to attend those schools, then the state could shape each new generation of citizens into ideal patriots and workers. (p. 60)

Throughout the 19th century, countries across Europe enacted compulsory education in state-run institutions. In America, it all started in my home state of Massachusetts with Horace Mann. In 1852 he led the charge to require attendance in “free” community schools for all children ages 8 to 14 for at least 12 weeks per year.

Now, with attendance laws requiring more like 36 weeks per year for children ages 6 to 16, schools have much more time to destroy a child’s freedom. Here are five ways they do it.

  1. Compulsory attendance. I’ve already addressed this, but it bears repeating. Children are by law forced to go to school and have no choice in the matter. They are effectively prisoners in their institution for 30 hours each week, subject to truancy charges if they miss too many days of school. That makes everything else they are subject to in school even more egregious, since a child cannot opt out of the system without support from a parent.
  2. They cannot choose what to study. There is little room for individual preferences in schools, where standardization of content is key. John Taylor Gatto was New York State Teacher of the Year in 1991, but later resigned and became a vocal critic of schools. In his essay “The Six Lesson Schoolteacher,” Gatto says that schools teach children to be dependent on others to deliver knowledge to them, rather than seeking out knowledge themselves:

. . . I determine what curriculum you will study. (Rather, I enforce decisions transmitted by the people who pay me). This power lets me separate good kids from bad kids instantly. Good kids do the tasks I appoint with a minimum of conflict and a decent show of enthusiasm. Of the millions of things of value to learn, I decide what few we have time for. The choices are mine. Curiosity has no important place in my work, only conformity.

  1. Forced association. There is no escape from the other students in a child’s class or from the teacher. Each child must remain in his classroom. He must speak when spoken to by the teacher and other authority figures. And he must work with other students when instructed to. While educators bemoan the incessant bullying among students, the young victims have nowhere to run.
  2. Lack of bodily autonomy. Children in schools are subject to the whims of authority figures in matters concerning their own body. They must ask permission to go to the bathroom; there is a certain time for eating, talking, and working. They can be punished for getting up from their seat or for socializing with a peer.
  3. Their property is not their own. Schools claim the right to search students’ backpacks and lockers, and to confiscate items they deem illicit.

The public school system is the worst example of these freedom-sapping practices because it has the added distinction of being funded by theft — taxation. But many private schools also follow a similar structure. One “expert,” the teacher, delivers information to the captive students. Their job is to sit, listen, and parrot back the information to prove they have learned. Those who fail to comply will face punishment.

Troubling results

What are the results of this schooling? According to Gray, young people feel less in control of their lives than in any other point in recent history. The Internal-External Locus of Control Scale measures this perception.  Developed by psychologist Julien Rotter in the 1950s, the scale determines whether people believe they mostly control what happens to them in life (internal locus of control) or whether it is external forces (external locus of control). Between 1960 to 2002, children and college students were increasingly likely to believe in an external locus of control. The average young person in 2002 was more external-leaning than 80 percent of youths in the 1960s.

Gray attributes this to a decline in free play among children. Among the reasons? Longer school hours starting at younger ages, more homework, and more adult-led extracurriculars. Gray also notes that mental illness and suicide among children are skyrocketing. Since 1950, the U.S. rate of suicide for children under 15 has quadrupled. He says that this troubling finding makes sense. Anxiety and depression correlates with a person’s feeling of not having control over his or her life.

Gray says:

We have created a world in which children must suppress their natural instincts to take charge of their own education and, instead, mindlessly follow paths to nowhere laid out for them by adults. We have created a world that is literally driving many young people crazy and leaving many others unable to develop the confidence and skills required for adult responsibility. (p.19)

Children who spend their youth in institutionalized schools can only grow up to be freedom-loving the way a moth loves a fire. They are attracted to its light but are so unfamiliar with it that they risk their own destruction by approaching it.

If we want our children to grow up to desire freedom and use it constructively, they have to practice using it as a kid. If we want them to respect the freedom of others, we have to respect their freedom.

So often, adults perpetuate the mistreatment done to them as a child. The abused son grows up to hit his own kids; the daughter of an alcoholic develops a drinking problem herself. This is true on an individual level, but also on a societal level. The generations of adults alive today mostly attended public schools where they had little freedom. Then they foisted the same misery on their children, because they, like so many well-schooled people, learned the lessons of conformity and obedience. Going to school is what the authorities demand. It must be necessary for a happy, successful life.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. We can break the cycle.

What to do instead

How do you reclaim freedom for your children? First, ask them if they want to be in school. If they say no, get them out.

Gatto believed homeschooling was the best alternative to institutionalized schooling when he wrote his “Six Lesson Schoolteacher” essay. But at the time, he wasn’t too hopeful about its chances.

“But the near impossibility of these things for the shattered families of the poor, and for too many on the fringes of the economic middle class, foretell that the disaster of Six-Lesson Schools is likely to continue,” he says despairingly.

I imagine he is more sanguine now, as homeschooling is likely the fastest-growing form of education in the United States. According to the National Home Education Research Institute, the number of homeschooled children is growing at a rate of 2 to 8 percent per year.

Approximately 2.3 million children are homeschooled, and your child could be one of them. If you try homeschooling, don’t jump right into a boxed curriculum to recreate “school at home.” Give your child time and space to enjoy the freedom he or she could never experience in school.

Another option is an alternative school. These are growing in popularity and can provide supervision for children while giving them autonomy. Gray extols Sudbury Valley School in Framingham, Massachusetts, which his own son attended. At the school, there are no classes or curriculum. Students are free to use the buildings and grounds to explore and learn, without a single lesson forced on them. The school was the first of its kind when it was founded in 1968, but many schools across the country have followed its model.

Gray says his study of adults who attended Sudbury Valley School as children show they have no problem earning a living or functioning in society. They freed themselves from the institutions that purported to be necessary for “success” in life. Yet despite — or because of — their lack of schooling, they are doing well.

Gray says graduates report success in four areas in particular, which they attribute to their time at the school. They are: being responsible and self-directed; having high motivation in further education and careers; having unique skills and deep knowledge; and having a lack of fear of authority figures (Free to Learn, p. 94-96).

The Alliance for Self-Directed Education, is compiling a resource directory to help freedom-loving parents and their kids find the perfect fit for them. The database will include schools, co-ops, camps, makerspaces, adventure playgrounds and other resources that support self-directed education.

Some kids enjoy school, and they might even learn something there. But the knowledge gained comes at a cost of 13,000 hours of childhood. Those are 13,000 lessons that what a child wants to do, what he or she deems worthy of time and study, is not as important as what the state demands. For alternative schooling families, or for homeschooling families like my own, our children’s freedom is more important.

Jennifer Lade writes for The Daily Bell, where this article first appeared

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10 Comments on "Five Ways Schools Destroy Children’s Freedom (And What To Do About It)"

  1. We have to ask, are we helping these kids learn for their own benefit, or are we just detaining them in conditioning facilities? Will they have “prosperous careers”, or are they simply brainwashed to participate in a runaway ecocide? What does it mean to chase secret conspiracies of the so called elites, the “archons” and such, when this the normal system continues to perpetrate perpetually in the background? This story highlights the true situation of mass complicity. Only a false analysis of this situation would assuages one’s conscience with a scapegoat. Mass complicity diffuses the sense of individual responsibility, sabotaging aversion. It is your worst nightmare from the Twilight Zone. It is even more real than the illusion of the consent of the governed and a primary threat to liberty. We should all reflect on what to do because the system as it stands is mostly institutionalized psychological child abuse for ulterior motives.

    • There is no “secret conspiracy”. The original documents, congressional record, public acts, “constitutional” amendments, clearly show that the united states of America, as established under the constitution for the united states of America that was ratified in 1789, and amended with the articles of which the first ten are known as “The Bill of Rights”, ceased to exist on March 27, 1861. That was the date that the then newly elected senate adjourned. The newly elected (election of 1860) house had adjourned earlier the same month. Neither set a date to reconvene, and neither ever did. Abraham Lincoln, for his entire first term, was the last man to be elected president of the united states of America. At the same time, he also became the first “ruler” of “The Union”. The Union later took on the title, The United States of America that, with the signing of the District of Columbia Organic Act of 1971, became THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA; the corporation that, along with its two successor corporations, all of whom went bankrupt, operates to govern us today. You are quite correct in your assessment of mass complicity. For almost 160 years, from the time when we blindly allowed ourselves to be led into the War of Secession, all successor generations have chosen not to pay attention to that which was being done right before their eyes. I believe that this behavior is closely related to the cycle we know as “the rise and fall” of empires and civilizations, a topic about which volumes have been written to very little effect.

  2. Grace by Faith | January 13, 2018 at 7:42 pm | Reply

    Great article, but the fence is closing in, making it harder than ever to help your sons and daughters escape the government’s soon-to-be mandatory indoctrination facilities. The clue to why they’re doing this which gives us the way to avoid them, is that they claim to own them, as human capital to uphold the debt. The real way to avoid their tyranny over our offspring is to never register births at all. Because when you do, you hand over ownership of them to the government.

    From that birth certificate (of ownership), the government creates a cestui que trust account that the state owns and controls, but that account lowers legal statuses (names in capital letters), to those of slaves in bondage to uphold their fake debt. This account behaves just like a corporation that creates a “fictitious legal entity” (fictitious = not real), which only we can breathe life into by identifying them as that corporation instead of the flesh and blood that they are. In common law, sons and daughters belong to the family, but in maritime/admiralty law, they belong to the state. The solution is to stop registering births altogether.

    “Therefore, the U.S. citizens residing in one of the states of the union, are classified as property and franchises of the federal government as an “individual entity.” Wheeling Steel Corp. v. Fox, 298 U.S. 193, 80 LEd. 1143, 56 S.Ct. 773. March 10, 1936.

    Government’s ownership of America’s children is not secret. There are many court cases which openly declare that our purported government owns virtually all of America’s children. “The primary control and custody of infants is with the government.” Tillman v. Roberts 108 So. 62, Van Koten v. Van Koten 154 NE 146, Senate Document 43 & 73rd Congress 1st. session, Wynehammer v. People 13 NY Rep 378, 481.

    According to Nichols v. Nichols (Civ. App., 247 S.W. 2d 143), …in its capacity of “parens patriae,” government may assume direction, control, and custody of children, and delegate such authority to whom it may see fit. (See, Ridgeway v. Walter, 133 S.W.2d 748, 281 Ky. 140;Shelton v. Hensley, 299 S.W. 979, 222 Ky 808.)

    If we want our babies (children is a legal word denoting something the state owns, so please stop using it) to grow up to desire freedom and use it constructively, we need to teach them who they really are; they are flesh and blood – because the state doesn’t and can’t recognize flesh and blood, only corporate entities which are illusory, creatures of the mind, and not real.

    • All true. Hi Grace, I’d take you out for coffee but Arizona is probably a bit of a drive eh? Also, there are Bobcats on top of tall cacti waiting to pounce.

      • Grace by Faith | January 14, 2018 at 10:44 am | Reply

        Hola, Jas. Yes, AZ is a mite far for me now since I escaped my warm but completely bats#!^ home state of CA last year and now I’m in PA where it’s a whopping 3 degrees.. Appreciate the thought, though. We don’t have bobcats in PA, we have a mightier animal… the Amish. 😉

        • Yeah, they slow you down with pies and wares, they get ya while you’re slowly walking away stuffed and with your hands full, sneaky bastards.

          • Grace by Faith | January 14, 2018 at 10:55 am |

            Gotta hand it to them, though, they pretty much got it right! If I had a do over… There is one other animal here I didn’t see much of in CA, and while they don’t sit on cacti, they do sit on stoops waiting to pounce – and that is junkies. Yikes, the problem is bad here. Can’t say it surprises me though, what with PA being the RC freemasonic keystone state. I am hiding in plain sight behind enemy lines here. And RC junkies are the worst – they keep trying to shoot the host but just can’t get it inside the needle.

  3. Call your congressional house representative & 2 senators — 202-224-3121— to support HR899
    a one sentence Bill which says: “The Department of Education Shall Terminate on December 31, 2018”. Sponsored by Representatives: Thomas Massie (R -Michegan), Andy Biggs (R-Arizona), Jody Hice (R-Georgia), Raul Labrador (R- Idaho).

  4. As a grandmother of nine I am saddened to see how schools are evolving. Children are IN CLASS 7 hrs per day now not six as the author suggests. There is ONE recess on a tiny playground and less than 30 minutes for lunch during which they are not allowed to socialize. [We had 3 recesses plus lunch and a six hour day when I was a kid so we could blow off steam.

    Many sit on a bus for an hour each way to class IF there is a bus available. Most parents drop off & pick up from “car line” which takes a minimum of 30 -45 minutes. Homework starts in KINDERGARTEN! By fourth grade they have homework in several subjects every night leaving little time for after school activities or free play time. We never had homework till middle school [6th grade]. PE , art & music are minimally covered & only once per week . Rules are unrealistic and punitive. [if a small child snacks or takes out a toy on the bus they are punished etc no birthday celebrations or allowing outside invitations unless whole class is invited]. If you have more than two absences without doctor note or four tardies they threaten parents with charges & CPS.

    NO family vacations allowed on non holidays without principals OK & then only if an educational trip. We lived in New England and spent the month of February [during the worst storms] in Florida as a child. Teacher sent along the work and we sent it in. Got straight As all thru elementary & middle school.

    Took my grandson to AZ for a week to visit family & had to fight to get any make up work from the school. If it was up to me I would home school him but it is not. His mother works ; as do most moms today, & needs the baby sitting convenience of the school. With all the drugs ,bullying & sexual predator teachers; I am even dreading middle school for him.

  5. First let me share an exert from the CIA training manual entitled, “Silent Weapons of Quiet War” which states:

    “In conclusion, the objective of economic research, as conducted by the magnates of
    capital (banking) and the industries of commodities (goods) and services, is the
    establishment of an economy which is totally predictable and manipulatable.

    In order to achieve a totally predictable economy, the low-class elements of society must
    be brought under total control, i.e., must be housebroken, trained, and assigned a yoke
    and long-term social duties from a very early age, before they have an opportunity to
    question the propriety of the matter. In order to achieve such conformity, the lower-class
    family unit must be disintegrated by a process of increasing preoccupation of the parents
    and the establishment of government-operated day-care centers for the occupationally
    orphaned children.

    The quality of education given to the lower class must be of the poorest sort, so that the
    moat of ignorance isolating the inferior class from the superior class is and remains
    incomprehensible to the inferior class. With such an initial handicap, even bright lower
    class individuals have little if any hope of extricating themselves from their assigned lot
    in life. This form of slavery is essential to maintain some measure of social order, peace,
    and tranquility for the ruling upper class.”

    Now, if that doesn’t start your blood boiling then please read it again until these words sink in. This is all being done by design. Then get over being sad and replace that emotion with getting mad and making a decision to do something about. First read this: Next read this: Then read this: It’s time for us to stop wining about how unjust things are and roll up our sleeves and get busy making corrections. They have established this as a battlefield against humanity, so either you fight or you allow yourself to be a prisoner and slave of their system!!!

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