The Opposite of Education

In commenting on an LA Times story about how high school outsiders become successful adults, Instapundit hits me right where I live:

If high school is an environment that systematically punishes traits that lead to success in the real world, then why not abolish high school? As institutions, they don’t do a very good job of teaching math and history. If they also punish traits linked to innovation then what exactly are high schools good for?

Short answer, they’re good for: A) providing a convenient location to pass out the pills stolen from mom’s medicine cabinet, and B) not much else.

My wife and I are going to have our first child this year, a boy. When I read news and hear anecdotes about where public education is today and where it’s going, I never hear anything that doesn’t make me want to flee screaming from public schools as fast as I can. By the time our son is old enough for school, there’s no reason to think it’s not going to be much, much worse.

My hope for him lies in this: I think we are at the beginning of a great come-apart in American education. People can see what’s going on, they’re tired of “reforms” that never reform anything, and they’re demanding alternatives. Those alternatives, fueled by that greatest enemy of all oppressors, the Internet, are now coming at us at a furious clip. Today, it sounds weird to have your kid taking online classes instead of actually going to a high school, but how weird will it sound in five years? Or ten? There’s no reason to think that the revolution that’s happening right now in online college education won’t work it’s way down the secondary education ladder.

Power is shifting, and shifting fast, from the providers of education to the consumers. By the time my negative-four-month-old son is college age, education “alternatives” like DeVry and the University of Phoenix may not be “alternative” at all. They may be more mainstream than throwing four (or five, or six) years of your life out the window to get a degree than no one in the real world cares about anyway. I say bring it on.