I was always sceptical – there seemed to be far too many good reasons not to send them too. But they’re usually swept under the carpet along with children’s feelings.
So I’m thrilled that someone’s actually unearthed them and outlined them in a book.
‘So, what’s wrong with school? 125 reasons not to send your kids’ by Jessica Mwanzia is a fascinating, thought-provoking, but very readable book that slaps your consciousness with all the hidden truths about the schooling system which most people would rather not face up to.
I’m so excited by her work that I asked her if she’d like to tell us how it came about and a little more about it.
Below is what she says. But the book itself is even more fascinating – you so need to read it for yourselves! (There’s a link following). Here’s Jessica…
“I came upon home education as a last resort 14 years ago when my young son and school were incompatible. I had been institutionalised to believe school was a good thing. Aren’t they supposed to be the best years of your life?
I began reflecting on my own involvement in classrooms, from both sides of the desk and the observations I had made of my child’s experiences. I was shocked by the gap between what we are led to believe happens and what actually does.
So I gathered news items, jotted down my thoughts, observations and recollections, searched for statistics and read and read. Soon I could think of hundreds of reasons why school was a bad idea. It became a cathartic unpicking of my own prolonged involvement with the education system. And it became a book.
So, what’s wrong with school? 125 reasons not to send your kids is a resource to strengthen the resolve of home-educators in those dark moments many of us have when we wonder if we should stop fighting the world and just send our kids. I see it as a tool to convince the doubting with statistics and information for worried grandparents and partners who think our kids are missing out by being at home.
I asked myself many questions, which became the focus for the chapters in the book:
- What do we learn and fail to learn in school? The overt and covert messages shape a lifetime of thinking and non-thinking, obedience or rebellion, of belief in ourselves as failures or failures-in-waiting.
- What are the many schisms that school creates? Separation from our own needs, goals, feeling and desires sets up fragmented lives. By taking children away from parents and adults other than teachers and by age-segregating, schools ensure we stand alone.
- What impact does the culture of school have on children and wider society? From bullying to injustice, dishonesty to deferred gratification the myths and environment of school create many distortions.
- What about the teachers? Undermined and overwhelmed, sick and stressed, the strangers we hand our kids over to are not in the best of health. Some are bullies and many want to leave teaching if only they could find other work.
- What is the impact of continually measuring and labelling children with a number or a grade? The numbers harm and deceive, while disregarding those things we cannot measure.
- How does school affect the health of pupils? Lack of exercise combines with sick buildings and unhygienic toilets and kitchens to make schools unhealthy places for the inmates.
- What about their mental health? Schools play a role in creating depression and anxiety, damaging self-image and forcing youngsters to do too much too young. The increase in pharmaceuticals to drug bored and stressed children is also examined.
- Are particular groups more at risk of harm in the school system? Boys have a tough time, “under-performing”, labelled with special needs and existing in an environment that shapes a particular brand of masculinity. Girls fare no better in the sexually charged environment. Many subgroups in society fare badly: the poor, the summer born, those with SEN, ethnic minorities.
- What is the true cost of school to individuals, society and the planet? I argue that schools are expensive, damaging the environment, individuals and societies the world over.
I conclude the book with a look at ways forward, with many links to organisations and further reading. My website http://sowhatswrongwithschool.wordpress.com/ aims to gather more examples under the Discussion – The way forward page. On the website there is a complete list of contents – all 125 reasons – and extracts from the book. For those inspired to buy it, simply click on the book cover for a paperback via lulu, or use the contact form for a PDF copy. (Can be converted to Kindle for free once you have received it.)”