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School Mind and Education Mind Are Two Different Things – Part 1 of 2

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School Mind and Education Mind Are

Two Different Things – Part 1 of 2

By Linda Dobson

school-sign school mind

Can we afford to continue believing that being schooled is synonymous with receiving an education?

When we compare public school attendance to homeschooling, we tend to focus on the external and obvious differences. The differences, however, begin at a deeper level, strongly influenced by how we think about learning. This two-part post looks at the differences between school mind and education mind to help you understand – or explain – that homeschooling is successful, in part, because of these differences in thinking and, therefore, starting points.

School Mind Arises from School as Necessity

Let’s begin with what is, by far, the most popular way to think about education, at least for the past 160 years. We’ll call it “school mind.” This thinking originates with a simple basic premise: Schools are necessary for children to learn and be socialized. Because of this starting point, the school mind places its trust about learning and socialization in the schools (theoretically, learning institutions; hereafter I will use the terms schools and institutions interchangably).

Despite the natural and numerous variations among human beings – you know, the ones we rave about when we recognize them in adults – all young human beings get sent to the same institutions to learn the same things at the same time in the same way. This is the essence of a system, as in “school system,” described by the The American Heritage Dictionary as an entity that “stresses order and regularity affecting all parts of a relatively complex procedure.”

Certainly, the workings of school have become ordered and regulated. But anyone who has spent even a cursory amount of time studying how human beings learn knows it’s complex and rather messy. Where one child needs to see, another has to hear. Where one child grasps concepts quickly, another must sleep on them before they make sense. Where one child requires a quiet environment, another can’t take the silence. Where one child uses more of the left brain, another favors the right. There’s little, if any, “order and regularity” here among the folks the “system” is supposed to serve.

The school system, then, exists to apply artificial order where none naturally resides. In the school mind, this makes sense. Remember, in this mind, the institution is the necessary ingredient. As such, much time, energy, and attention is spent keeping the system, which is striving for order and regularity, functioning. The more order and regularity accomplished, the smoother the sailing for the system itself.

Of course, the people whose livelihoods depend on survival of the system must implement practices that serve this end. These practices include regularity – in the ages at which children begin and end attendance, in the subjects presented for study, in the content of the books they read, in the daily schedule they keep. These practices include order – assignments, right answers, grades, standardized tests, diplomas signifying that the order was followed.

See also “What Happens When You Don’t Give Kids Tests

School Mind Summarized

As pillars for order and regulation, school minds believe in the necessity of the following:

  • Compulsory attendance. This demands, by force of law, that children spend large amounts of their time in the institution and away from the reality of daily life.
  • Curriculum. A course of study laid out ahead of time for everyone, chosen by people who are strangers to the children, who lack personal involvement in the children’s interests in the subject matter, and who are not affected by their success or failure.
  • A focus on the child’s inability to meet existing standards. Children need to be tested, then measured against other children to determine, among other things, if they need to be “fixed” to become part of the desired “regularity.”

Here’s what we end up with:

Compulsory attendance + Curriculum + Focus on lack of meeting existing standards = Schooling

Everyone who has been ordered and regulated via these methods has been “schooled.” This certainly explains how there are so many people walking around with school mind. It also sheds light on how we, as a nation, can spend so much money and time and energy keeping the system going, even while witnessing an astonishingly large percentage of children going through the process and coming out unable to read, write, think, or tell Jay Leno whether the Revolutionary War or the Civil War came first.

Although children may be legally forced to sit through more than a decade of order and regularity, not a single school administrator will guarantee any form of actual learning. Courts will not hear cases in which parents take school systems to task for failing to educate their children. With school as the essential ingredient, the only certainty is that children will be schooled.

Can we afford to continue believing that being schooled is synonymous with receiving an education?

Adapted from The Ultimate Book of Homeschooling Ideas: 500+ Fun and Creative Learning Activities by Linda Dobson

Please visit Parent at the Helm tomorrow for Part 2 of

“School Mind and Education Mind Are Two Different Things”

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3 Responses to “School Mind and Education Mind Are Two Different Things – Part 1 of 2”

  1. Shalene says:

    I like the post, Linda. Thank you!
    I did, however, find it ironic that the advertisement at the top of the post was for a boarding school, apparently catering to ADD/ ADHD, undermotivated teens….. (were you aware of this, or is Google messing up your ad focus?)

    • grandma_linda says:

      Thanks for the lovely note, and your observation. We have tried, one by one, to get the awful ads off of Google Ads…they multiply faster than rabbits. All I can say is GRRRRRRR! Obviously, Google has "school mind."

  2. Great post! I love the way you think. I linked to it from my blog post. Can't wait for part two!

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