1. Sometimes you have to get up when it’s still dark.
Research has shown that children generally learn better when they start school later.1
2. Most schools dispense curriculum from the top down, from distant sources.
Children learn best when the approach is learner-centered, based on their interest.
3. Students are forced to stay in classrooms and are not allowed to leave.
Democratic and progressive schools have found that children are happier and learn better when they are free to come and go.
4. Children in most schools are forced to sit in rows of desks and not move around.
Research shows that it is unhealthy for children to not move around, and is especially painful for kinesthetic learners.2
5. In most schools learning takes place in rigid periods, governed by bells.
Research has shown that children need to learn according to their own rhythms, working on projects until they are finished.3
6. In most schools bullying is rampant and there is no effective mechanism to control it.
There is almost no bullying in democratic schools, and if there is a problem it can be brought up in a democratic meeting where students can give each side of a conflict and all participants enforce the decisions.4
7. In most schools, irrelevant homework is assigned, which students are forced to do at home and turn in at school.
If students are following their own interests, homework is not necessary. If children are natural learners, assigning them to study information not of interest only serves to extinguish that natural ability to learn.
8. In most schools children are segregated into classes of students who are their exact age.
This is “socialization” to a bizarre environment they will never experience in their life after school. Children learn best in mixed age groups in which they can collaborate with children of different ages and backgrounds.5
9. In most schools children are forced to compete for grades in every subject.
Grades have been shown to be a false motivator, based on someone else’s idea of what they should be learning, rather than their own intrinsic interest.6
10. In most schools students are forced to take many hours of standardized tests, often without ever knowing whether their answers were right or wrong.
Teaching to tests pushes students in exactly the wrong direction. They should only be given at a student’s request, with the results known immediately, and not ever as a judgment of ability.
If many of these things describe situations in your school, it’s time to look for another school, or to consider homeschooling.