Factory-Like Schools Are the Child Labor Crisis of Today

I’ve called today’s government-run schools Lord of the Flies Child Warehouses — Kerry McDonald calls them Factory-like. Here she is writing at the Foundation for Economic Education:

Compulsory schooling was meant to save children from the dangerous conditions of the factory, but these days, “traditional” schooling is easily just as dangerous to children’s well-being.

ost American children and teenagers wake early, maybe gulp down a quick breakfast, and get transported quickly to the building where they will spend the majority of their day being told what to do, what to think, how to act. An increasing number of these young people will spend their entire day in this building, making a seamless transition from the school day to afterschool programming, emerging into the darkness of dinnertime. For others, there are structured afterschool activities, followed by hours of tedious homework. Maybe, if they’re lucky, they’ll get to play a video game before bed—a rare moment when they are in control.

There is mounting evidence that increasingly restrictive schooling, quickly consuming the majority of childhood, is damaging children. Rates of childhood anxiety, depression, behavioral problems, and other mental illness are surging. Teenage suicide rates have doubled for girls since 2007, and have increased 30 percent for teenage boys. Eleven percent of children are now diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and three-quarters of them are placed on potent psychotropic medications for what Boston College psychology professor Dr. Peter Gray describes as a “failure to adapt to the conditions of standard schooling.”

Dr. Gray goes on to explain:

It is not natural for children (or anyone else, for that matter) to spend so much time sitting, so much time ignoring their own real questions and interests, so much time doing precisely what they are told to do. We humans are highly adaptable, but we are not infinitely adaptable. It is possible to push an environment so far out of the bounds of normality that many of our members just can’t abide by it, and that is what we have done with schools.

In the early twentieth century, concern about children’s welfare in oppressive factories was a primary catalyst for enacting child labor laws and simultaneously tightening compulsory schooling laws. Yet, for many of today’s children, the time they spend in forced schooling environments is both cruel and hazardous to their health. Gone are the oppressive factories, but in their place are oppressive schools. Where is the outrage?

Read more: FEE.org

Image credit: www.fee.org.