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A Brief History Of Education

This post is a follow up from our incredible experience hosting Peter Gray here in Charlotte (January 30, 2016).

In his talk, he refers to a blog post he wrote called “A Brief History Of Education.” If you went to the talk, you might be curious to read a bit more about this. If you didn’t go to the talk, it’s a very thought provoking read.

I reviewed some old blog posts I wrote before Mosaic was an ALC (we initially opened as a democratic free school). These posts are no longer currently viewable on the internet, but I dug a post I wrote after reading this particular blog by Gray in August of 2013:

Do you know why schooling became compulsory? In the linked blog post by Peter Gray, author of Free to Learn, he describes a brief history of education from the time of hunter-gatherer societies to today.

In the article, Gray describes how, “School gradually replaced fieldwork, factory work, and domestic chores as the child’s primary job. Just as adults put in their 8-hour day at their place of employment, children today put in their 6-hour day at school, plus another hour or more of homework, and often more hours of lessons outside of school. Over time, children’s lives have become increasingly defined and structured by the school curriculum. Children now are almost universally identified by their grade in school, much as adults are identified by their job or career.”

Are your children defined by their grade? Do they see themselves as more than a person who is “not good at math” or in the “top reading group?” Could this mindset be a contributing factor to increased depression and anxiety in the future due to a dependence on defining oneself through arbitrary standards?

It was fun for me to see that I am still just as passionate about this topic as I was then!

Changing Your Mindset, Changing Your Life


I was looking for Peter Gray quotes to share as we get excited for his speaking event in Charlotte on Jan. 30th, and came across this one. I personally would replace the word “education” in this quote with “life. Which prompted me to reflect on a common parent question I get about the future.

“But what if after going to your school, they grow up to wish they hadn’t? What if they can’t get into the college they want to?”

And to that, I say:

“Oh my…but what if they grow up in a traditional school, go to a prestigious college, get a job they don’t really like and then work there every day, living for Friday when they can finally drink away the misery of staying in the job because they have so many student loans? And they are taking anti-depressants or anti-anxiety meds every day to get through life?

This is a mindset, to live with chronic worry, to live out of fear for what *might* happen way down the road. Instead, I want to model for children living a life of purpose, one that is worth waking up for every morning. One that feels full of joy and love. Most schools are not modeling that for children, but instead modeling the mindset that you must suffer right now, you must get through this day in order to have a “successful” tomorrow. That you must be stressed out and worry about the future and what might happen to you if you don’t stress about it right now. But what is success? Isn’t success being thankful each morning to be alive? Or is it going to a job you hate and wishing you had a different life?

If you are focused on being concerned about how you will mess up your child, no matter where you send them to school, you will be focused on this. Perhaps, would you consider what would happen if you change your focus? You might change your life and your relationship to the world and your child. You might perhaps find that no matter where you send your child to school (or choose not to send them), doesn’t matter as much as your own mindset in life. So I actually don’t promote that people come to our school to find bliss, but that they find their own bliss first, and if it feels right, join us in our journey of like minded families. Because if you are trapped in a mindset of living in constant worry, than you will bring that here and worry about our school just as you’ve worried about other schools. Change your mindset first, then make your decisions (about what school to choose, or really, anything else) from a place of joy and inspiration!”

I have been scoffed at for leading and promoting the questions of how might we lead ourselves and teach others to have free-spirited, joyful lives NOW, and I have heard: “Well that’s because you live in la-la land. You don’t live in the real world.” Well, what if we created the world we want to live and are excitedly doing that? What if we create the world when we chose what mindset we want to have and we choose how we want to feel, and how we will respond to the world around us? What if we create the world when we choose to focus on what we want to draw into our lives rather than what we want to avoid? These are the considerations I ponder in my own head and that resonate for me to create my own heaven on earth.