"How can we say, in any case, that one piece of knowledge is more important than another, or indeed, what we really say, that some knowledge is essential and the rest, as far as school is concerned, worthless? A child who wants to learn something that the school can't and doesn't want to teach him will be told not to waste his time. But how can we say that what he wants to know is less important than what we want him to know? We must ask how much of the sum of human knowledge anyone can know at the end of his schooling. Perhaps a millionth. Are we then to believe that one of these millionths is so much more important than another? Or that our social and national problems will be solved if we can just figure out a way to turn children out of schools knowing two millionths of the total, instead of one? Our problems don't arise from the fact that we lack experts enough to tell us what needs to be done, but out of the fact that we do not and will not do what we know needs to be done now. Learning is not everything, and certainly one piece of learning is as good as another...It is not subject matter that makes some learning more valuable than others, but the spirit in which the work is done." -- John Holt, How Chlldren Fail
It's interesting to me as I do more reading and research on home schooling, and I've found John Holt's books to be particularly thought-provoking, because I become more convinced that schools wouldn't be so "bad" if they were just inefficient methods of learning. That is tolerable in some regards, I think. What is NOT tolerable is that schools seem to inherently damage the natural enthusiasm to learn that already exists in most children. So I can no longer think that school is simply benign, because it seems that schools actually do harm to children. And this is coming from someone who always excelled at school. I was an ideal student in many ways, and received excellent grades. And even I recognize that so much of the time was wasted waiting for the teacher to gain control over the class, dealing with the troublesome students. I think I "learned" just about as much as was available to me to learn, but I know that most of it was not retained AT ALL past the end of the semester, and everything I did learn could have been learned much more quickly had it been something that actually interested me or that I'd chosen to study.
I like the above quotation because I really do think that one of the most important things to learn is how to find out information and how to think critically about that information.
Anyways, I think I have more to say on the topic, but the kiddos keep interrupting my train of thought.