Are schools really the best way for us to learn? After spending years in the traditional school system, I’ve come to question its effectiveness. In this post, we’ll dive into some anti-school quotes that highlight the flaws of education as we know it. From the one-size-fits-all approach to the emphasis on grades over true learning, we’ll examine why schools – including public schools – are failing us. Join me as we explore alternative paths to education, and discover why homeschooling might just be the key to unlocking our true potential.
I hope you enjoy reading this blog post. If you want to do my course on how to homeschool, click here.
Here are some reasons to be anti-school:
- bad school culture and practice
- peer pressure
- lack of discipline
- too much time wasted controlling students – not learning
- too much busywork (superfluous work kids don’t benefit from)
- public school actually interferes with natural learning processes
- because schools can make you stupider
We’ll look at these objections in more detail below by examining quotes on the subjects.
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Before we begin our anti-school crusade, let me give a shoutout to the unsung heroes of education – the teachers.
From staying late to grade papers to wiping away tears over fractions, they go above and beyond to nurture young minds.
However, as we delve into the dark underbelly of education, we’ll see that many of the problems lie not with the teachers, but with the system itself.
So, without further ado, grab some popcorn and let’s press play on that Youtube video featuring the quirky guy with the funny hairdo- because we’re about to learn why schools might need a serious makeover.
Unhelpful School Culture and Practice
Let’s face it – schools can be pretty weird places. From the bizarre rituals of pep rallies to the questionable fashion choices of the popular kids, it’s easy to see why some students feel like they don’t quite fit in.
But it’s not just the superficial stuff that’s off-kilter.
Some schools have deeply ingrained cultures and practices that actually hinder learning and growth.
Take age selection, for instance – why force all 5-year-olds to learn with kids exactly their age and avoid interacting with people of all ages?
Or over-sexualization – why are we interested in teaching kids about condoms over critical thinking?
And don’t even get me started on the missed opportunities to recognize and nurture a child’s true potential. So, let’s roll up our sleeves and unpack some anti-school quotes that reveal the unhelpful school culture and practice that might be holding us back.
But, good gracious, you’ve got to educate him first. You can’t expect a boy to be vicious till he’s been to a good school. – H. H. Munro (Saki)
When we think about diversity in schools, we should also remember we are extremely selective when it comes to age. 100% of the students in just about every classroom are the same age, give or take a year. – Rebbecca Devitt, Why on Earth Homeschool
One of the oddest and in my view most harmful, aspects of our treatment of children today is our penchant for segregating them into separate groups by age. We do that not only in schools, but increasingly in out-of-school settings as well. In doing so, we deprive children of a valuable component of their natural means of self-education. – Gray, P. Why We Should Stop Segregating Children by Age: Part I. (2017). Psychology Today.
School is the advertising agency which makes you believe that you need the society as it is. – Ivan Illich, Deschooling Society
I am beginning to suspect all elaborate and special systems of education. They seem to me to be built up on the supposition that every child is a kind of idiot who must be taught to think. – Anne Sullivan
Sex is common in schools because sex education is no longer about whether students should or shouldn’t have sex. Rather sex ed is about how to apply a condom effectively to avoid Sexually Transmitted Diseases or unwanted pregnancies. – Rebbecca Devitt, Why on Earth Homeschool
The biggest lie homeschoolers tell is that it’s not right for everyone. School is totally ineffective. We all know our schools are broken. We are trying to fix them. So the kids in the schools are guinea pigs. The bar is very low for how much better life needs to be outside of school for it to be better than school. – Penelope Trunk
When schools insist on grouping children according to their chronological age, they ignore much research showing that chronological age is a poor indicator of a child’s readiness for school. – Rebbecca Devitt, Why on Earth Homeschool: The Case for Christian Homeschooling.
The best education consists in immunizing people against systematic attempts at education. – Paul Karl Feyerabend
The classroom is for the child; the child is not for the classroom. – Douglas Wilson, The Case for Classical Christian Education (p. 146)
Ah, the sweet sound of peer pressure – it’s a staple of the school experience, right?
But while we may think of it as harmless or even beneficial, the truth is that it can have some seriously negative effects on our children’s development.
In fact, in some cases, peers can be more effective at passing on their values than even the most dedicated teachers or parents.
It’s a sobering reminder that school isn’t the only place where our children are learning – and it’s up to us to make sure they’re getting the right lessons.
So, let’s take a closer look at some anti-school quotes that shed light on the power of negative peer pressure and the need for a more holistic approach to education.
I pay the schoolmaster, but it is the schoolboys who educate my son. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
One of the biggest problems with school is the peer pressure thing. Basically, you have a few popular kids and everyone wants to be friends with them. If there is an awkward kid, it’s fine to pick on them and it’s funny. It really bugs me. The children aren’t mature enough to see past that. – Mark Demol quoted in Why on Earth Homeschool.
Bullying in school – it’s like a rite of passage, right?
The sad reality is that far too many of our young ones are being tormented and traumatized in the very place where they’re supposed to be safe and supported.
And while we might brush it off as just a part of growing up, the truth is that this is a serious issue that demands our attention.
After all, if we don’t protect our most vulnerable members from bullying, how can we expect them to grow up into confident, resilient adults?
So, let’s dive into some anti-school quotes that shine a spotlight on the disturbing prevalence of bullying in our education system – and what we can do to stop it.
Since every effort in our educational life seems to be directed toward making of the child a being foreign to itself, it must of necessity produce individuals foreign to one another, and in everlasting antagonism with each other. – Emma Goldman
Perhaps it’s ironic that while adults would never endure bullying on the scale we see in school, many think a bit of bullying is normal for the weakest members of our society. In fact, many call it ‘resilience training’.- Rebbecca Devitt, Why on Earth Homeschool
We adults will not endure workplace bullying on the scale schools allow, yet we sometimes expect our younger, more vulnerable members of society to tolerate bullying. We realize workplace bullying is harmful and can cause damage to the worker. But, when we take our children to school, we call bullying ‘resilience training’ – Rebbecca Devitt, Why on Earth Homeschool: The Case for Christian Homeschooling.
Lack of Discipline
Discipline – it’s the backbone of any successful learning experience, right?
Unfortunately, when it comes to schools, discipline can sometimes seem like an afterthought.
From unruly students to frustrated teachers, it’s clear that we’re not doing enough to encourage mental fortitude and focus in our young learners.
And the results speak for themselves – too often, a lack of discipline leads to a lack of learning.
But why is it so hard to instill discipline in our schools? And what can we do to turn things around?
Let’s explore some anti-school quotes that shed light on this crucial issue.
Lack of control, as many parents will realise, is detrimental as children need boundaries to mature. Without boundaries, children will suffer the consequences of their unruly and undisciplined behaviour in the future. – Rebbecca Devitt, Why on Earth Homeschool: The Case for Christian Homeschooling.
Unfortunately, expecting public school children to respect one another has adversely affected students as it has set up false expectations as to the graciousness of a child’s character, thereby leading to the failure of schools to institute disciplinary measures in line with the real nature of children. – Rebbecca Devitt, Why on Earth Homeschool
Too Much Time is Spent Controlling Students
Let’s face it – schools can sometimes feel more like boot camps than places of learning.
With all the time and energy spent trying to control a few unruly students, it’s a wonder anyone gets any actual education done!
Teachers are left frustrated, students are left bored, and valuable learning time slips away.
Meanwhile, homeschoolers are completing all their formal work in just a couple of hours a day.
So why are we wasting so much time in schools? Is there a better approach to classroom management that doesn’t involve endless battles with difficult students?
Let’s explore some anti-school quotes that shed light on this time-wasting issue.
I don’t blame the big schools for the approach that they take. With thirty two kids in a room, it is impossible to cater education toward each child. Children do have to wait because there are a lot of children to wait for. It is necessary to provide tight order and structure or chaos would take over. It is important to start school at an early hour with a full seven hour day in order to fulfill state requirements..For some kids ‘school’ [might be] the best place. But for our family, it is not. – Nikki Schaefer
Are we altogether comfortable about that artificial prolongation of intellectual childhood and adolescence into the years of physical maturity which is so marked in our own day? – Lost Tools of Learning by Dorothy Sayers, p. 2.
Too Much Busywork
Schools seem to love busywork – pointless tasks designed to keep kids busy but not really teach them anything.
It’s a frustratingly common occurrence, with teachers and substitute teachers alike guilty of handing out these time-wasting assignments.
Not only does busywork fail to engage students, but it also hinders the development of those who are gifted by forcing them to work at a slower pace.
It’s no wonder that many parents of high-achieving students turn to homeschooling to ensure their children can work at their own pace and reach their full potential.
“What madness it is,” says Seneca, “to learn so much trash , when time is so precious.” Nothing, therefore, should be learned solely for its value at school, but for its use in life, that the information which a scholar has aquired may not vanish as soon as he leaves school. – John Amos Comenious, 1957, p. 78.
School filler work is as useless as stopping up a rat-hole with an apple dumpling. – Rebbecca Devitt, Why on Earth Homeschool
A tremendous amount of filler is done because the day is too long and little children can’t last. They do a lot of stuff just to fill in the time. I think it just wastes their lives away. – Susan McAulay, Why on Earth Homeschool.
School is where you go between when your parents can’t take you, and industry can’t take you. – John Updike
Schools should compress the academic curriculum into a small amount of time. Small children benefit from being at home and spending time in play and activity, supervised in an unstructured way, rather than this artificial school day, where they come home, worn out, having done little academic learning and a lot of filler. – Susan McAulay, Why on Earth Homeschool.
So much time is wasted at school… At school, you can elect to learn a lot about a specific area, but not a little of each as you would usually require in life. – Neville Hesford, quoted in Why on Earth Homeschool.
The modern boy and girl are certainly taught more subjects – but does that always mean they actually know more? – Lost Tools of Learning by Dorothy Sayers, p. 2.
I May Like Learning, but I Don’t Like School – There’s a Difference
Learning can be a thrilling experience, but schools sometimes drain the life out of it like a vampire at a blood bank.
Let’s face it, many people who have made great contributions to society weren’t exactly school-loving nerds.
In fact, some of them couldn’t wait to escape the confines of their classrooms.
Here are some anti-school quotes that’ll make you feel like ditching your textbooks and hitting the library instead.
I loathed every day and regret every moment I spent in a school. – Woody Allen
How I hated schools, and what a life of anxiety I lived there. I counted the hours to the end of every term, when I should return home. – Winston Churchill
It is a very grave mistake to think the enjoyment of seeing and searching can be promoted by means of coercion and a sense of duty. To the contrary, I believe it would be possible to rob even a healthy beast of prey of its voraciousness, if it were possible, with the aid of a whip, to force the beast to devour continuously, even when not hungry. – Albert Einstein
In the first place God made idiots. This was for practice. Then he made school boards. – Mark Twain
Much that passes for education is not education at all but ritual. The fact is that we are being educated when we know it least. – David P. Gardner
One had to cram all this stuff into one’s mind, whether one liked it or not. This coercion had such a deterring effect that, after I had passed the final examination, I found the consideration of any scientific problems distasteful to me for an entire year. – Albert Einstein
It don’t make much difference what you study, so long as you don’t like it. Finley Peter Dunne
Public School Interferes with Learning
If you ask me, public school has a way of interfering with actual learning.
It’s like trying to fill a bucket with a hole in it – you keep pouring in information, but it just leaks right out.
And let’s be real, some of the greatest minds in history weren’t big fans of school either.
I have never let my schooling interfere with my education. – Mark Twain
Men are born ignorant, not stupid; they are made stupid by education. Bertrand Russell
Assessment of only one type of writing has meant other forms of writing are forgotten, and teachers can’t diversify their teaching to their students’ needs. – Rebbecca Devitt, Why on Earth Homeschool: The Case for Christian Homeschooling.
The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education. – Albert Einstein
My grandmother wanted me to have an education, so she kept me out of school. – Margaret Mead
What we call education and culture is, for the most part, nothing but the substitution of reading for experience, of literature for life, of the obsolete fictitious for the contemporary real. – George Bernard Shaw
In public school, many smart students are held back in that they easily complete the average class workload but they can’t go any further in that classroom. These students are looking for an academic challenge, but not one that will draw attention to them. They don’t want to do more than the other students but will spend the rest of the lesson playing on their mobile phones or drawing pictures on their work and whispering.- Kerry Robbins, quoted in Why on Earth Homeschool.
A second major illusion on which the school system rest is that most learning is the result of teaching. Teaching, it is true, may contribute to certain kinds of learning under certain circumstances. But most people acquire most of their knowledge outside school, and in school only in so far as school, in a few rich countries, has become their place of confinement during an increasing part of their lives…most learning happens casually, and even most intentional learning is not the result of programmed instruction. Normal children learn their first language casually, although faster if their parents pay attention to them.- Ivan Illich
Knowledge that is acquired under compulsion obtains no hold on the mind. – Plato
Has it ever struck you as odd, or unfortunate, that to-day, when the proportion of literacy throughout Western Europe is higher than it has ever been, people should have become susceptible to the influence of advertisement and mass-propaganda to an extent hitherto unheard-of and unimagined? Do you put this down to the mere mechanical fact that the press and the radio and so on have made propaganda much easier to distribute over a wide area? Or do you sometimes have an uneasy suspicion that the product of modern educational methods is less good than he or she might be at disentangling fact from opinion and the proven from the plausible? – Dorothy Sayers, Lost Tools of Learning, p. 2.
Education is a Dangerous Weapon
Education can be a double-edged sword – it can enlighten and empower, but it can also be used to manipulate and control.
Schools, unfortunately, have often been the breeding ground for such manipulation and indoctrination, turning children into mindless drones of the state.
It’s a classic case of “with great power comes great responsibility,” and some leaders have proven to be anything but responsible.
The escalation of the schools is as destructive as the escalation of weapons but less visibly so. – Ivan Illich, Deschooling Society
Soap and education are not as sudden as a massacre, but they are more deadly in the long run. – Mark Twain
What does education often do? It makes a straight-cut ditch of a free, meandering brook. – Henry David Thoreau
Education is a weapon, whose effect depends on who holds it in his hands and at whom it is aimed. – Joseph Stalin
Public school’s preparation for the real world is about as useful as trying to douse a house fire with a small, paper cup. – Rebbecca Devitt, Why on Earth HomeschoolI’m afraid the schools will prove the very gates of hell unless they diligently labour in explaining the Holy Scriptures and engraving them in the heart of the youth. – Martin Luther
The whole theory of modern education is radically unsound. Fortunately in England, at any rate, education produces no effect whatsoever. If it did, it would prove a serious danger to the upper classes and probably lead to acts of violence. – Oscar Wilde
As we’ve thrown God out, we’ve thrown out a lot of Christian education, which benefits our school students personally. Although schools weren’t originally designed to facilitate ungodliness, schools became effective tools for spreading ungodliness. – Rebbecca Devitt, Why on Earth Homeschool
What is most important and valuable about the home as a base for children’s growth into the world is not that it is a better school than the schools, but that it isn’t school at all. – John Holt
School can Sometimes Make Children Stupid.
It’s not uncommon for schools to make students feel like they’re losing more brain cells than gaining them.
The structured, institutionalized care that schools provide might not be the best way to teach children how to think for themselves.
In fact, it could be doing the exact opposite.
Schools can leave children feeling reliant on external sources of information and unable to seek answers independently.
They can even forget basic skills, like how to navigate a library catalog or find relevant information in a book.
It’s a wonder that schools haven’t killed the curiosity of students altogether.
Maybe it’s time we turn back the clock a few hundred years and rethink what education is supposed to achieve.
But such [institutionalized] care only makes them more dependent on more treatment, and renders them increasingly incapable of organising their own lives around their own experiences and resources within their own communities. – Ivan Illich, Deschooling Society
Do you ever find that young people, when they have left school, not only forget most of what they have learned (that is only to be expected) but forget also, or betray that they have never really known, how to tackle a new subject for themselves? Are you often bothered by coming across grown-up men and women who seem unable to distinguish between a book that is sound, scholarly and properly documented, and one that is to any trained eye, very conspicuously none of these things? Or who cannot handle a library catalogue? Or who, when faced with a book of reference, betray a curious inability to extract from it the passages relevant to the particular question which interests them? – Dorothy Sayers, Lost Tools of Learning, p. 3.
It is in fact nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the holy curious of inquiry. It is a very grave mistake to think that the enjoyment of seeing and searching can be promoted by means of coercion and a sense of duty. – Albert Einstein
…if we are to produce a society of educated people, fitted to preserve their intellectual freedom amid the complex pressures of our modern society, we must turn back the wheel of progress some four or five hundred years, to the point at which education began to lose sight of its true object, towards the end of the Middle Ages. – Lost Tools of Learning by Dorothy Sayers
Just Throw More Money at Education and It’ll (Surely!) Improve
Ah, the good ol’ “throw more money at it” strategy. It’s as if we think that our schools are like fussy toddlers who will magically behave if we just give them more toys.
But let’s face it, the issue with our education system isn’t that we’re not throwing enough money at it.
It’s more like we’re throwing it into a black hole without any real plan or strategy for improving outcomes.
Maybe it’s time we started looking at how the money is being spent rather than just assuming that more money equals better education.
Our entire school system is based on the notion of passive students that must be “taught” if they are to learn. . . . Our country spends tens of billions of dollars each year not just giving students a second-rate education, but at the same time actively preventing them from getting an education on their own. And I’m angry at how school produces submissive students with battered egos. Most students have no idea of the true joys of learning, and of how much they can actually achieve on their own. –Adam Robinson
It is our American habit, if we find the foundations of our educational structure unsatisfactory, to add another story or a wing. – John Dewey
But in both places [North and Latin America] the mere existence of school discourages and disables the poor from taking control of their own learning. All over the world the school has an anti-educational effect on society: school is recognised as the institution which specializes in education. The failures of school is taken by most people as proof that education is a very costly, very complex, always arcane, and frequently almost impossible task. – Ivan Illich, Deschooling Society
Schools Have an Unhealthy Monopoly on Education
Who says you need to be trapped in a classroom to learn?
Schools may have a monopoly on education, but that doesn’t mean they’re the only game in town.
Parents who want to homeschool often feel like they’re not up to the task, but in truth, they already possess the necessary skills – they just need to break free from the shackles of conventional thinking.
Potential school teachers are never scarce for long because, on one hand, demand for a skill grows only with it’s performance within a community and, on the other, a man exercising a skill could also teach it. But, at present, those using skills which are in demand and do require a human teacher are discouraged from sharing these skills with others. This is done either by teachers who monopolize the licences or by unions which protect their trade skills… school teachers and made scarce by the belief in the value of licences. Certification constitutes a form of market manipulation and is plausible only to a schooled mind. Most teachers of arts and trades are less skillful, less inventive, and less communicative than the best craftsmen and tradesman. – Ivan Illich, Deschooling Society
If leaders control children through education, we control future leaders and, therefore, the country. – Rebbecca Devitt, Why on Earth Homeschool
Too Much Testing is Harmful
Testing, testing, 1-2-3…or maybe not.
The incessant testing culture in schools seems to be causing more harm than good.
From stressing out students to serving the interests of government record-keeping and competitive parents, one has to wonder whether testing is really worth all the fuss.
Neither learning nor justice is promoted by schooling because educators insist on packaging instruction with certification. – Ivan Illich
Public school creates an environment where children are forced to learn information, much of which is rote learning. Students learn how to swallow lots of information for an exam only for it to be regurgitated and promptly forgotten after the exam. Then they bring this limited learning style to university. There is a better way! – Rebbecca Devitt, Why on Earth Homeschool
Examinations are formidable even to the best prepared, for the greatest fool may ask more than the wisest man can answer. – C. C. Colton
That’s Why I’m Anti-School.
As much as I respect and admire teachers for their hard work, I can’t help but feel like schools are not doing the best job. After diving deep into the issue (check out my book for more details), I’ve come to the conclusion that being anti-school is actually quite reasonable. Between my own school experiences and my foray into homeschooling, I’ve found that homeschooling is the way to go. Not only does it make sense on a personal level, but there are also plenty of academic reasons to support it. While these anti-school quotes might make you want to throw in the towel, fear not – homeschooling can be the beacon of hope your children need.