What is School For?

To answer this question, we could dive into the history of public and private education since the industrial revolution and analyze policy decisions by state legislatures. But the answer varies widely from state to state, school to school, and era to era. More simply, let’s reflect on our own experiences to find out what school is really for: compliance, or education?

An example: Which of the following draws more attention: a kid who learned absolutely nothing but has passed every test due to their memory (passed compliance test, but didn’t learn), or the kid who has failed every test because he desperately needs context in order to remember the information (didn’t pass compliance test, didn’t learn)? The latter who didn’t comply, despite the fact that neither of them learned a thing.

Another: What would concern a teacher more: a shy, quiet kid with failing grades (complies behaviorally, fails academically) or a loud, outgoing kid with failing grades (doesn’t comply behaviorally, fails academically)? Again, the latter who didn’t comply, despite the fact that neither of them learned a thing.

School is not for education as it currently stands. Usually it has little to do with ensuring that kids are learning, and more to do with making sure that they comply. In both of the examples I just mentioned, the educational component is lacking entirely, but that’s not the primary concern. The primary concern is that the student be processed correctly through the system.