Hume and Smith observed that “governments who supported churches with tax dollars got a less religious populace.” In a post at Values & Capitalism, Isaac Morehouse extends that thinking to education:
When the church is publicly supported it becomes less responsive to parishioners and less creative in gaining and retaining new members. When churches had to rely solely on voluntary support, they innovated. Sermons became more interesting to the listeners, facilities were built to meet the needs of attendees, and church leaders more aggressively and creatively looked for ways to show the applicability and value of religion to everyday life. This marketing, innovation and energy resulted in greater “consumption” of religious “goods” than in countries where the state supported the church…
It’s silly to suggest that religion cannot exist without state support, and even more absurd to suggest that the federal government could improve upon religion. Yet the vast majority of Americans fail to see the same cause and effect relationship between state funding of education and the level of education among the public.
If you like the idea of a population that is competent in math, science, reading, writing, physics, philosophy, biology, history, economics and every other field of knowledge, you should oppose state support for education. Without resorting to complicated debates about curricula, teachers unions and budgets, the same economic analysis Smith and Hume used to understand the relationship between church and state can be used to understand the relationship between school and state. State support for education results in a less educated populace.
Last week, a handful of parents joined us for an informal discussion about children, schools, and learning. Thank you to those who were able to come, and thanks also to the many more who asked to be informed of future get-togethers. Here are the slides from my brief presentation that evening.
Lately I’ve grown particularly interested in the subject of learning. If you’re interested in a not-so-mainstream take on learning and childhood development, I encourage you to check out the following:
Richard Louv’s Last Child in the Woods, 2008
New York Times: Can the Right Kinds of Play Teach Self-Control, 2009
New York Times: For Forest Kindergartners, Class is Back to Nature, Rain or Shine, 2009
Harper’s Magazine: Against School: How public education cripples our kids, and why, 2003 (here’s a version that doesn’t require subscription)
4 minute video from TED: Gever Tulley teaches life lessons through tinkering, 2009
19 minute video from TED: Ken Robinson says schools kill creativity, 2006
John Taylor Gatto’s The Underground History of American Education, 2001 (I’m about a third of the way into this one, and am growing more concerned with every page)
Next on my reading list is Ivan Illich’s 1971 book Deschooling Society. Clearly, I’m exposing myself to mostly contrarian works. If you have some resources that support more conventional schooling ideas, please share them.