Before kids I never thought much about why something was chosen instead of another. With kids though I think about this all the time. One example is that lately there's been a lot of discussion about homeschooling. Reading books like A Year of Living Dangerously and The Teenage Liberation handbook bring up thoughts about why school is designed the way it is.
Schools can largely be really unfortunate situations. The food is normally very poor, there aren't usually consistently high levels of educators, not all the kids are wonderful - my certainly have moments they aren't - and there is a lot of wasted time. So why do kids go to school? It's the default choice so people do it.
Dan at Tropical MBA talks a lot about his lifestyle and that though he may not make as much as he could living in the United States - he lives in the Philippines - his lifestyle is much better. The cost of living is lower, the weather wonderful, the people incredible. If you could guarantee yourself an income of $45,000 USD would you live in the United States when you could live anywhere? If you could nearly guarantee a better education for your kids would you?
There's a line in the television show Friends when Joey is wondering how people arrange the furniture in their living rooms if they don't have a television. Good question. TV, kitchen, bed. These are the things we always arrange our homes around. The kitchen and bed make some sense, but television? Not really.
Why do kids need to learn different arts? Why can't they just pick one thing? Why don't sports and band and church choir and computer gaming count for academic credits? How would I change things?
- The school provides healthy lunches with fruits and vegetables and parents have to pay for it. Why? Society needs productive workers. A friend on Twitter commented that breast feeding in a Starbucks is gross. Not so. Breast milk is best milk, we should encourage all new mothers to do this. Same for school lunches.
- Art should be open ended. Whatever the students want to do is fine by me. They need to provide some demonstration of personal growth - even with video games - but it should warrant some credit.
- Physical education should be similarly open ended.
- School cafeterias should run breakfast, lunch, and dinner services for the community.
- School libraries should be fully stocked and open to the public. The more people you have in a school the better.
- Why are there nearly as many high school teachers as elementary teachers? Elementary teachers should outnumber their colleagues by 3:1.
- Students should begin learning a foreign language in elementary school in a full immersion classroom.
- Every staff member should read one book a year and host a book club with students about the book. Janitors, principals, all teachers and the students should pick any book from any staff member.
- Students who do really well should be rewarded.
- School should start later in the day. What's the problem with this? If kids want sports why can't they be in the morning? Kids that want to play basketball can't do it in the morning and have their basketball skills suffer because they're tired instead of their math skills.
None of these are really good ideas. If they were really good ideas they would be policy but it was nice to think about why things are one way and not another.