Disclaimer: I am a certified [MSc] teacher in chemistry and physics. Worked the job only a year [went to do PhD and then do R&D in semiconductors] but all my life I have being interested in education and never stopped thinking and learning about it. Sorry for the gigantic post; there is so much to say about this...besides according to Terry Pratchett teachers can only converse in the form of short lectures:))
The major problem of standardized school system is the lack of flexibility and inability to provide different approaches to different types of students. I am not saying anything new here -- the class moves through the curriculum with the speed of the average student, not the best, of course. This is the classical case [to use popular culture reference] of "who and how is going to teach Ender"? On the other hand, the "slow students" are often slower than they can be again because of lack of flexibility in approach.
The major problem of home schooling is politics --> that the majority of people seem to want it not in order to educate their kids better but the opposite, to save them from "evil" knowledge and from hearing different points of view. This home schooling fad perpetuates the whole developed world ATM and the idea comes usually. from the religious circle of the parents. Please, understand me right, I don't want to start a war on this issue but it is true. In mitigation I can say that many other ideologies [politics, business, culture in general] also try constantly to meddle in schools and teach [or not] the students about certain things.
Two issues then -- one, now to make the system more efficient in pure education terms, without considering social and cultural issues. Two [this is the biggie] --> how to deal with the inevitable clash between the culture and knowledge in the family and the culture and knowledge of the world [school].
It is a FACT that what happens at school has major influence on the development of the young mind. It is a FACT that bad teacher can do huge harm and good teacher can do huge good. It is a fact that most families internal culture is narrow-minded compared to what the school teaches. And you cannot possibly separate culture form education. Example --> if you study logic, one of the best text books starts with debunking the whole idea of advertisement and shows you clearly how you are manipulated by it. But that message is universally despised by our culture [for it has been perverted to such degree that any objection against money grabs and inhuman economic structures is labeled as "freedom-hating"] and trust me, some enraged group of parents will protest [especially if daddy is making his bucks in advertisement:)]. During my short tenure I saw many such clashes. Parents asked me "why are you teaching them this, you are just physics teacher, what can you possibly teach them about everyday life". "Everything", was my usual answer and I tried to explain that the scientific approach is a system of thought that is universal and can be applied to any problem. As my physics teacher in high school said "you might be selling groceries all your life but if you understand a bit of physics and scientific approach you will out compete the other grocery shop". Very few parents understood...
Thoughts on issue one:
- make the cooperation between parents school and society more efficient and [wishful thinking] as free of politics as possible.
- Create "clubs of interests" [we used to have those very good under the communist system] where fast kids can learn more. Make those good and affordable.
- here is an idea --> teach skills. Go with the kids to where their parents work. If some kids show interest in advance machining [dad has golden hands and builds interesting stuff] let those kids have internships in that company or similar. Find what the kid really likes and then provide endless torrent of knowledge and practical work in that field. When motivated by curiously and satisfaction we humans excel and do not need a stick to make us learn and do.
- never put the education system on the profit motive only [just as you should never do this for medicine, army, police and so on]. The profit motive destroys everything. It is diametrically opposite to what we want for education.
- do not lighten the curriculum; quite the contrary. There is a very dangerous notion that kids need "to be kids". Load of dingo's kidneys! We retard the development of our children by pushing "the age of maturity" ever further [I expect in a few decades a law that you need to be 30 in order to vote, cause you are "just a kid" before that age]. Forgetting that for most of human history the people who changed the world were young, even teenagers. I was reminded this fact just the other day when reading history --> one great revolutionary in my country rebelled at an age of 16 and started organizing resistance. By 24 he was a veteran; became member of parliament after the liberation, by 30 he was a minister and then became the most successful prime minister of my country in the 20th century.
Again, the great Terry Pratchett. Miss Susan says "I teach them how to become adults.They already know how to be kids!".
Thoughts on issue two:
Well, this whole thing is not simply a can of worms, but a can of giant anacondas!! You will always have cultural clash at school, because you develop WORLDVIEW at school. And that is everything to a human. Our worldview determines everything we do. And almost always the worldview at home will be narrower than the one at school.
And who has the right to teach a worldview to the kids? The teachers, some say, because they represent the collective knowledge and wisdom of humanity. There is no harm in teaching kids the TRUTH, yes? Well, says the enraged parent, you ruined my kid's life! She wanted to become an accountant and now that you told her the whole financial system is a scam [cause you though her logic] she wants to be an engineer. Do you know the difference in salary and job opportunities?
And the parent will have a point. Because, you see, the socioeconomic system of the world is not in line with reality. Thus, people who actually do stuff for humanity are seldom rewarded or respected for it. I don't have to explain it to this crowd, right? The sarcasm is that teachers themselves are the one of the least respected and rewarded members of society although their work is nothing short of fundamentally important. But at the same time being successful in this "unreal" system has very real consequences --> longer life, better health, higher quality mates, etc. So, this is issue number 3, the biggest of them all. That the more you know, really know about the world, the more unsuited you are to live in it, because of the discrepancy between reality and the system we have created. So TRUTH can [and often does] ruin your life from a more standard [success over everything!] point of view.
In conclusion, there is not going to be any progress in education until somehow we get rid of the politics or keep it in check. Otherwise nothing will work. Just look what happened to the issue of climate change when it became important to those that only care for money. Now you cannot find your way through the endless propaganda. It pains me when I see the majority of people blaming again the schools or the teachers [or unions, politicians and legislation], whereas the problems are created by society itself, because it does not want the truth to be told. Period.