We don't need teachers, we need mentors

Pretend for one second that mandatory public school didn't exist.

What would that look like?

You'd have to answer these 3 questions:

  1. What would kids do in the absence of school?
  2. What would teachers do in the absence of school?
  3. What would the community do in the absence of school?

If kids had no school, I feel that most people would assume it looks like this:

But I picture something different.

Maybe if kids didn't have to spend 45 hours/week in class (assuming a 7-hr school day + 2 hrs of homework/day) they could be exploring the interests that matter to them most.

  • Maybe this does result in video games all day.
  • Maybe this results in 3 extra hours of violin practice.
  • Maybe this results in a full 8-hour session of physics and quantum mechanics.

We don't know. What people are interested in is unpredictable, but that's the beauty of it. Maybe they get that extra time to be with their families. Or they just goof around one day. No ones hurt because of it, yet children are made to feel guilty for indulging in anything that is not science, math, or social studies, etc.

Maybe all of the pressure that causes depression in teens would subside when they don't get the chance to base their value off of grades.

On to question 2.

I believe that with teachers, there would be a separation: good teachers would continue to teach through books, online courses, and seminars. Mediocre teachers would not survive the teaching market and have to do some other type of job.

When there are no teachers (aka babysitters) of our kids, who would the kids look to for guidance?

The community.

They would look for mentors in the community who mirrored their goals or values. Mentorship from people who's lifestyle consists of more than just grading papers and giving presentations can be so valuable for the right kid.

A kid who looks up to their local firefighter could spend her days "apprenticing" for the fire department, and learning the ins-and-outs of rescue, responsibility, and the importance of details.

She would gain valuable skills and be free to leave and learn from someone else if the relationship is no longer beneficial for both parties.

What happens today is that kids are forced to interact with individuals who spent their whole lives learning how to teach academics. Unless you grew up wanting to be a teacher, what incentive do you have to want to learn from this person?

We want to learn from people we respect.

We want to learn from our mentors, not our teachers.

We want to learn from people who we aspire to be like.