Education is Learning, Schooling is Training

Writes Kicking it Unschool:

I think I upset someone yesterday when I said, “education is learning, while schooling is training.”

I don’t like to get all negative on the school system too often, but let’s call a spade a spade. A typical school day in our past involved waking Josh (8y) before he was finished sleeping and coercing him out of bed, into clean clothes, into the car.
He’d be dropped off to wait in a line to go to class.
A bell would ring and he’d walk to class in an approved fashion (quietly, no running).
Another bell, sit still and be quiet.
Another bell, get in line, time to use the restroom (better go now, you won’t get another opportunity for a while).
Another bell, get in line, time to be artistic.
Another bell, get in line, time to eat lunch. At 10:30am no less! Better eat up, this is your only opportunity before 2:45pm when your mom gets you.
Bell, get in line, go be active.
Bell, get in line, go sit still and be quiet again.
Bell, get in line, go home. And don’t forget your list of stuff to do at home before tomorrow!

Do what they want you to do and you get a treat! Stickers, monopoly money, special privileges, candy. Don’t and not only do you miss out on the treats, you get punishments. Loss of privileges, red cards, sad faces, isolation, detention.

The school system is AT LEAST equally about training as education, if not more. It can easily be argued that the system’s style of ‘education’ is more training to regurgitate the ‘right’ answer at the ‘right’ time than truly acquiring knowledge.

I’m sorry if what I’m saying here is upsetting. I’m not trying to speak negatively of teachers or parents who send their kids to school. I’m trying to be honest about what is going on at school, that is all.

Spot on. Schooling is concerned primarily with training, not education. Education *may* happen, but training is the goal. Just ask Daniel Quinn.


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Founder and editor of and, Skyler is a husband and unschooling father of three beautiful children. His writings include the column series “One Voluntaryist’s Perspective” and “One Improved Unit,” and blog series “Two Cents“. Skyler also wrote the books No Hitting! and Toward a Free Society, and edited the books Everything Voluntary and Unschooling Dads. You can hear Skyler chatting away on his podcasts, Everything Voluntary and Thinking & Doing.