My tests have just gotten over, and I’ve been thinking about formal education, specifically about its necessity in today’s day and age. Formal education in the olden days was only provided to the higher classes and the lower classes had to be educated by their parents. Not much has changed today. The best education is given by big private schools, while the poorer people have to make do with whatever education the government provides them in the government aided public schools. That being said, what is the benefit of a school as an institutionalized education provider? As members of the privileged classes, we have access to the internet, and all the knowledge in the world. Yet we children are still sent to a private or public school as soon as we learn to utter our first sound. I am referring to the standardized K-12 education, especially in India. Everything we learn during this period, can be taught to us by our parent/s and/or the internet. Universities like Harvard and Yale also accept home schooled students, and they also get more scholarships. So why isn’t that a mainstream choice? Sometimes this type of education is better than institutionalised education. There is no stress of exams, there is no standardized curriculum, and we can focus on our strengths and interests. For example, I am interested in Theoretical Physics and Math but I hate Biology. I want to become a Physicist and can’t stop wondering how will the knowledge of asexual reproduction in plants help me later in life? I will memorise the chapter for the exams, but I will forget it soon after. With homeschooling , I can focus on Physics, Math and other subjects that I find interesting, some of which are not in the standard curriculum, e.g., Quantum Physics. I may also focus on topics which I may need later in life, whether I like them or not.
But on the other hand, the discipline and pressure of schools give us the initiative to study and exams give us something to strive for. We get to meet new friends, share experiences and expand our horizons. It is good for developing all round skills, but we can start honing our skills after the 10th grade. We get occasional endorsements from teachers (as rare as getting a Master Ball in Pokemon), access to equipment in the labs and certain practices of application to the theories we study in books (although this is more of a feature of the international curriculums and not practised in the national curriculum). I went to a school called Singapore International School and I remember doing Science experiments in third and fourth grade which I should be doing now in eighth (and which I’m still not getting to do because now I’m in a national curriculum). That is all that comes to mind as to the benefits of an institutionalised education system. These don’t seem like a big enough returns to offset the amount of money and energy we spend on private schools. So why do parents do it? Is it because they themselves went to school? Is it because other parents do it? Or is it out of fear that their kids won’t get into good colleges? My best guess is that social convention dictates it, and laws like RTE carve it in stone.
So why can’t we all be like Sheldon?