Freedom and the future of education in America

Curt interviews Kerry McDonald, Senior Education Fellow at the Foundation for Economic Education, and author of the new book, Unschooled: Raising Curious, Well-Educated Children Outside the Conventional Classroom.

“What does the word freedom mean to you,” Curt asked Kerry.

“Oh, that’s such a great question,” Kerry replied. “You know, to me freedom is the opposite of coercion.

“I think it is allowing for true human potential and human flourishing and allowing for individuals to kind of chart their own path,” she said. “And that’s sort of I think the essence of certainly the unschooling and self-directed education philosophy.”

Curt also noted that while so many people believe our system of schooling is broken and needs fixing, when even small tweaks to the system are proposed, many of those same people become staunch defenders of the status quo. Why is that?

“I think freedom is hard,” Kerry replied. “I think it is easier to impose force and particularly where we have a coercive system of schooling that most of us went through it’s hard to imagine something else for our children, for ourselves.”

But, she added, “But, you know, technology now is reminding us as adults how we can kind of reconnect with our human drives for self-directed learning. If you look at young children, they are incredibly curious and have a tremendous capacity to learn a vast amount of information before they ever enter a school room. And these drives don’t just go away when a child hits kindergarten age.”

“We destroy them and this is something that (Dr.) Peter Grey, who writes the forward in my book, talks about a lot,” she explained. “We destroy them with our coercive system of schooling and so now as adults I think fueled by technology we’re able to more quickly reconnect with some of these self-education drives and see how we are able to learn given the vast amount of resources at our fingertips.”

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