This was written in 1862, but could have been written today:
After all this, compare the dogmatic school of the Middle Ages, where truths were indubitable, with our school, where nobody knows what truth is, and to which the children are nevertheless forced to go and the parents to send their children.
Tolstoy goes on to make the argument that the only form of education that could possibly justify state force would be religious, since religion is the only subject that professes eternal truth. It seems counter intuitive at first, but that I think is more from the modern sensibility that even religion is not unchanging. But the fact remains that it is hard, if not impossible, to demand unyielding compliance to an educational system that may be completely overturned in the next generation.
Think about it: the science books of our grandparents have no mention of electronics as we know it, and their grandparents probably learned very little about electricity at all when they were in school. But the state, in its presumed wisdom, wants to tell us what we should be learning now. And when challenged for a reason for their curriculum choices, they usually point to studies that are less than a decade old, and very nearly unproven in any real world setting.
What do we know? That reading is the first key to unlocking any future hope of education, and that English, being a basically phonetic language despite all the bastardizations, can be best learned as a series of symbols to decode. We call this phonics (although I suspect someone could make a fortune by repackaging it as “Lingual Decryption”, and for which I formally claim copyright).
That takes care of the language arts, and all that depend on it: writing, history, social studies, and every soft science. It will even get you going in some of the harder sciences, like computer science.
But what about math? It is universally acknowledged that Math is Very Hard. Or even Extremely Difficult. And the corollary is this: All Children Struggle with Math. I think this is incorrect, and I’ll talk more about it in my next post.