- An alternative way to look at education, an alternative way to educate



Education articles by Gary John Ilines about why people send their children to school


I started as a teacher in 1987. I began as a high school Maths teacher in Jamaica, then worked as an EFL instructor to teenagers and adults in Poland, South Korea and Thailand. I trained as a primary class teacher in the UK and France, taught primary from Year 4-6 in the UK, France, Thailand and China, and then home-schooled my own children through IGCSEs and A-Levels.

Gary John Ilines
BA Honours, CTEFLA, PGCE Modern Languages, MA International Education


SCHOOL-SCHOOLING. Why do people send their children to school?


If you do a Google search for "why do people home school?" you'll find page after page after page of webpages debating the issue. The pros and cons of home schooling is a vibrant debate - even if everyone is saying pretty much the same thing. However, if you do a Google search for "why do people send their children to school?" there is remarkably little being said. Most of the search results point to webpages discussing the private versus public school dilemma, or the merits of sending your child in the car as opposed to the bus. Obviously major issues. But there is very little discussion about the reasons for sending your child to school in the first place - as if the reasons go without saying. But they certainly don't.

This entry on the genius website needs to be quoted just for its comic value:

Parents send their children to school because children need to learn and school is the place where professional educators are.


The Huffington Post has a more thoughtful answer to the question, but like most educational commentators, the fixation is on employment and 'successful' careers, which to me is deeply rooted in the slave mentality.

The only decent answer I found on the pages listed on Google was this excellent article by Simon Webb (who calls himself the 'Home Education Heretic'):

Simon Webb offers three reasons why parents send their children to school:

  1. Because everybody else does
  2. Because they have been brainwashed into thinking that schools are necessary for children to develop properly
  3. Because they don't want to spend time with their children.

I think I pretty much agree with this, but these are not very good reasons, are they really? If this is true, what does that say about all those parents who send their children to school? I am currently home educating my children, but I sent them to school for years, so what does that say about how I was as a parent (although throughout that time I was a primary class teacher so you can't accuse me of not wanting to spend time with children!) According to the National Centre for Education Statistics, only 3.4% of parents chose to home school in 2012 in the United States. So that leaves an awful lot of brainwashed sheep who basically don't want to spend time with their children. It's a very sobering thought.

Of course there is the socialization argument, but this is so flimsy it almost doesn't deserve to be mentioned. One commentator I found made the amusing point: who thinks that 30 other ten-year-olds is the perfect group to socialise my ten-year-old child? Jerry Mintz makes the point that school is the only time in your entire life when you will find yourself in one, big homogenous age group. Even the word 'socialization' sounds a bit sinister and Orwellian.

The career argument is perhaps the most convincing, but if you listen to Ken Robinson on YouTube - an expert in the field - he seems to think that independence, creativity and adaptability are the key qualities employers are looking for and few schools are providing a breeding ground for these qualities, whereas home education is much better adapted to fostering this. Perhaps there is an argument for sending your child to an elite establishment with its old boy network, but that's questionable reasoning assuming our goal is a fair and equitable world and this surely doesn't explain the 96.6% of parents who choose not to home school.

Perhaps, to be fair to loving parents, it is also the lack of information and debate and that many parents don't even consider it as an option; although that is basically the same as Simon Webb's sheep explanation.

Then there's the financial argument and perhaps both parents feel the need to work, but it's amazing how much less money you spend after you decide to stop going anywhere and stay at home. There are no doubt genuine hardship cases where a parent had no choice but rarely. Moreover, if money is the only reason for not making the best choice for your child's education, then that surely can't be solid reasoning.

Nope. I'm sorry, but I'm not convinced about why I should send my children to school. As parents who are not sheep, not brainwashed, not hateful of children, neither mercenary nor elitist: brothers and sisters, we really need to turn this whole debate on its head. There should be pages and pages on Google of debate about whether to 'school-school' or not. The default should be for parents to teach their own children because it's the most normal natural thing. Why would you not? Why would you send your child to a school, for heaven's sake?

You do what? You send your child to a school? What? To be taught by complete strangers, based on a curriculum designed by government ministers with no knowledge of education, in a big room full of children exactly the same age, for long periods of time with no break? You're weird! Heretic!

© Copyright Gary John Ilines.