By Leo Babauta
I often bad-mouth school, as if it's the most evil thing in the world. I should clarify that -- I think unschooling is a better method for us, and could be for many others, but people who are going to school or who are teaching in school are not doing a horrible job at all.
I have two kids who go to school, and in truth I think they're turning out great. There are lots of good things about school, and what's more, even if I don't agree with schooling in general, kids learn just as much (or more) outside of school as in school, so there are lots of opportunities to help your child learn and be an amazing person even if they're in school.
I also love teachers. My grandmother was a teacher for many years, along with one of my favorite aunts, my wife (and my ex-wife) and others who I think are truly tremendous human beings. Teachers are like saints. They deal with incredible difficulties and help children love reading and science and not hate math so much, and they reach out to troubled kids and they do their best to instill a passion for learning.
Unfortunately, I think they're working in a system that's not well-designed to help kids love learning. The kids are forced to be there. They are forced to learn things they don't care about. They have to do it in a way that they didn't choose. The teachers are working against all of these odds, and the fact that they succeed at least some of the time is miraculous.
My two kids who go to school -- they probably feel bad that I say bad things about school, because that means they made bad choices, right? No, I don't believe so, though it's possible I don't do a good job of communicating that to them.
Chloe is going to college, and is a wonderful human being. She had a great experience in school, with some wonderful friends, and while I don't think she always loved every class she took, I think she did her best, and sometime was sparked and challenged. In college, she's discovering who she is, and meeting some great friends, and learning about some subjects she's finding fascinating. She's also interning with me at Zen Habits, outside of school, and is learning some good job skills in the process.
Rain is in high school now, and while I don't think he loves every class, he does enjoy school and does well. He's also running cross country, and that's good socialization and good for his health & fitness. He's also learning to program with me and Justin outside of school, and I go on runs with him and have long talks.
My point is that school isn't as horrible as I make it seem. Parents who have their kids in school aren't bad parents -- though I would suggest they look into homeschooling/unschooling. If they can't, there are tons of things they can do while their kid is in school (more on this later).