James and I had a great fireside chat while camping about homeschooling. Holt has a whole chapter on the myth of the social benefits of public compulsory schooling, arguments that really need to be heard. That led James to pose the question: if not school as it currently is, then what?
The answer is that no one really knows. The authors I'm reading all admit they aren't sure what the solution is, but what they do know is that the current system is failing miserably. More and more money is being pumped into a system, while more and more kids dropout or are truant, and literacy rates are plummeting.
Is homeschooling the answer? Obviously, no. Homeschooling is not an option for everyone, that's a plain fact. What I compared homeschooling to was a protest. Take what happened this past year Egypt. For 40 years their economy has been collapsing and eventually people realized that the current system was so broken, it couldn't be fixed. It had to be completely dismantled. The first step was the protest. A small fraction of the entire population (it seemed big, but percentage wise wasn't everyone) took to the streets in protest. They stopped participating in the broken system to show they were serious about having something different. After the protest, came the period of uncertainty, and a little chaos. This period will likely last for years, while the people figure out what new direction they should take. There will be missteps, mistakes, victories, detours. But in the end something new will emerge, something true and honest, not forced by government but propelled by true social change.
The answer to a new education system lies in much the same vein. Currently, parents all over America are protesting the current schooling system by pulling their children out of schools and educating them in other ways. Alternative schools, private schools, homeschooling, unschooling, apprenticeship, travelling...their are as many different ways as their are families involved in the movement. These protestors may only account for a small percentage of the mass population, but their numbers are growing every year. Eventually, enough people will hopefully see what the alternative could look like, and a protest by a big enough population will hopefully lead to the dismantling of the current compulsory education.
What the step after that is, no one knows. Just like in Egypt, it will be chaotic, splintered, a crumbled mess of bricks slowly being built up again one by one. But what will emerge will hopefully be much better than what we have now, and perhaps all those homeschoolers will once again reintegrate into community education.