Freedom vs. Compulsion in Education


It’s time to rethink education.  Here’s an entertaining video that discusses it well, and then you can read the post from Carrie Piper about one mom’s experience with education.  You can see her blog at http://learningandlivinginliberty.blogspot.com/ 

Reposted with permission from Carrie Piper

I have been evaluating how I REALLY feel about freedom & the use of compulsion in education & life in general. A few weeks ago I read “The Leadership Education Continuum” by Diann Jeppson & Jodie Palmer (in the appendix of Leadership Education:The Phases of Learning by Oliver & Rachel DeMille) and listened to the free workshop you can download at Leadership Education Family Builder.

This really got the thinking! This continuum is a cyclical diagram that shows how the stages, 7 keys & 5 environments of Leadership Education all work together.  I cannot reproduce it here, but it is on page 301 of Leadership Education. The diagram shows the Freedom Agreement running across the center. I interpret this placing as a hinge of sort. It is the unifying practice that holds everything together. The mortar of a brick building, the eggs in a cake. So I ask myself. Just how am I living this principle? Have I fully accepted it?

Well, let’s define it first. It is basically the idea that personal freedom to pursue one’s own education works. It produces an individual who knows freedom.

WARNING! Soapbox Rabbit Trail Below

 (I do not mean having a head knowledge of the definition of freedom. I mean knowing it deep down in your bones so that it becomes a part of who you are and it sickens you when you see freedom being violated for yourself and others. These types of people are far and few between these days! It’s obvious they are a minority in elected officials if they are there at all. We allow our freedom to be hampered everyday.  For example, you cannot build on your own property without permits and paying the permit fees. You cannot start a new business without some sort of licensing, fee and government oversight.  This is not freedom. I read recently that 1 in 5 jobs in the USA is involved with monitoring the behavior of other people in some way. That is just wrong! )

 It also produces a person who loves learning because all they have learned has been intrinsically motivated, not coerced. Compulsory education makes an assumption here. The assumption is that freedom does not work with education. Reading, math and the like must be learned using coercion, a closed environment from which there is no escape, rewards for compliance & punishments for non-compliance (aka independent thought). The Freedom Agreement assumes that freedom in education does work and with superior results!

 Now when I read this I thought I agreed totally! I am a TJEder! We’ve been home educating this way for almost 4 years now, and even before I found TJEd, I was very relaxed in our methods. But then I hit a bump in the road.

I wrote here about how La had said she wanted to work on her math facts in order to be able to do Life of Fred. I thought, “Great! This is working! I can stop worrying about whether or not she will ever learn her math facts and move on in math!”

 ~ Here comes the road bump ~

This lasted less than one day when she burst into tears saying she doesn’t want to do this anymore! So no more work on math facts!  I confess I was shocked and disappointed.  I tried to figure out what went wrong.  After some soul-searching and prayer this is what I discovered.

  1. I was emotionally invested in her accomplishing this which made it my goal, not hers. 
  2. When we went to practice the math facts, I used a method that I thought would produce the quickest results. I failed to take into account her learning style and temperament.

This was inspiration with string attached. You see, it became all about me. All about relieving my silent fear that, she will never learn _________, if I don’t require it. I had crossed the line of freedom in her own education. I was pushing and using compulsion techniques. This is when Inspire not Require becomes manipulation and I need watch this in myself.

So, I still need to work on accepting the Freedom Agreement. I need to daily remind myself that it is my job to expose, inspire and help our home to be a learning environment. It is her job to learn, grow, and move through the phases at her own pace.

So why do this? It’s much easier to buy a curriculum, make sure your child is “on track” with everyone else, or yield the freedom to an “authority” of an online school.  I struggle through this because I want something better for my daughter. I want her to know freedom in her bones, to function within freedom, to have a deep love of learning that will last a life time, and be practiced in the skills of a scholar.

I need to trust freedom, trust my daughter & trust the guidance of my Lord God.

“Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” 
2 Corinthians 3:17
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6 thoughts on “Freedom vs. Compulsion in Education

  1. Great video. I hadn’t come across that one before. I thought you might enjoy reading a few excerpts on compulsory education from Murray Rothbard. He begs the question: “shall there be a free society with parental control, or a despotism with State control?”

    It seems we’re definitely in control of the statists.

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  2. Hey wow that animation was the most awesome thing. And I saw on youtube there so many others by the same RSAdude. I’m watching them all and getting so smarter than I would in any classroom!! He’s drawing so fast it’s crazy. I think your article explained so much about whats not hooked up right with school and all. I’m ADHD and ADD and this nosy parker school counselor is all up in my grill about offtask this and offtask that and no way should I be taking ritalins and breathing heavy and heart racing like a freaking rabbit just cause trigonometry is like a thorazine. Does quadratic anything means anything to anyone.? But your article has opened my eyes to all this and I thank you thank you for the coolest link ever.
    Partyon StarPeople and prosper!

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  3. I was a teacher for a pilot program through the BYU College of Education in the 1990s called “Zion Institute for Children.” We traveled all over the country training parents in correct principles of education – “Teaching Children in Light and Truth.” One of the professors involved was my mentor Neil Flinders, now retired, who wrote a definitive book called Teach the Children. It describes the history of education and the different philosophies that drive education today. The solutions are good and I recommend it, if we keep in mind that we are not yet a “zion” society.

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  4. Try making up songs and poetry about the math facts (and anything else): dance with her too. It will be fun, she will help make the song and poem, and she’ll probably start enjoying it again.
    Sometimes things do not seem important to youngsters and don’t seem important until much later in life. I never “learned” my math facts (had to consistently use fingers) but was excellent in math anyway, all the way through H.S.

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