How would I cut public spending by £100bn? Abolish schools—and have children learn through playing videogames all dayby Julian Gough / March 22, 2010 / Leave a comment
A compulsory education, to a rigidly prescribed curriculum, in a classroom of 30 in a school of hundreds, at set hours, Monday to Friday, is splendid preparation for life as a 19th-century factory hand. But it is precisely, almost brilliantly, wrong for creating self-starters, entrepreneurs, free thinkers, risk takers, leaders, visionaries, inventors, innovators, flexible employees, creative artists or anyone Britain actually needs. We no longer force adults to work in Victorian workhouses. So why do we force children to learn in Victorian schools?
When the Prussians first introduced compulsory schooling back in 1763, you could force the child to learn by threat of violence. But as vigorous beatings were phased out, state education became impossible. It now eats up 13 per cent of public spending to produce adults who can’t read, write or speak English, let alone any other language. Clearly, state education should be abolished. What should we replace it with? Nothing.
What will Britain’s children do with no schools? They’ll sit at home immersed in the internet (reading), texting (writing), and playing computer games (arithmetic, physics, geography, history). Learning is impossible if you are neither motivated nor focused; but it is unavoidable if you are both. Monitor the brain activity of a kid in a maths class—nothing going on. Now monitor it at home while he plays Bioshock at level 13: his brain is growing new neural pathways as though his life depended on it. Only the fear of either death or massive status loss can motivate a teenager to do anything, and computer games are optimised to do just that—even more effectively than a Victorian with a stick.
The entertainment industry is the educational system. Yet the government maintains its iron control over the latter, which doesn’t educate, while letting the former—which is literally forming our children’s minds, neuron by neuron—do whatever it likes. Which is, mostly, crapping in your kid’s head. If governments can regulate toxic chemicals in food, they can regulate computer games—which don’t have to be toxic. Immensely successful ones are already produced by artists, educators and visionaries. Have you ever played Sid Meier’s almost ludicrously educational and entertaining Civilization? (More than 9m people have.) Or the historically and strategically accurate Combat Mission: Barbarossa to Berlin? The evolution game, Spore? You can lose yourself in all of these for days, while learning incredibly complex lessons in the only way that will stick with you:…