It is known to any of us who have studied rhetoric that the key to winning a debate is not in how cleverly you can argue, but in the terms used to examine the topic. In common terms this is called limiting the argument. If you can limit the opposition into only talking about what you want to talk about, battle half over.
In education we hear repeatedly about the value of education in terms of future income. Each step up the educational ladder means a great potential for increased earning. So we have some teachers paying their students to do their homework and there is talk of even paying kids to come to make it to school. This is meant to reinforce this idea that education is an economic activity.
But I think this severely undervalues the value of education. All of the studies that I've seen have shown that the most important area in which education helps students is in health. Kids who graduate from grade school, any grade school in any community, have healthier outcomes in life than kids who don't. There are all kinds of societal and sociological ingredients being mixed together here, but the bottom line is that being in an environment that stresses learning, even if you aren't very good at it, improves your health. And the further you go in educational pursuits, the better the health outcomes.
Knowing things, pretty much anything, improves your chances of survival, that's what this demonstrates and it makes educators fearful for the future generations we're educating because they're being taught not to know. They're being confused by the differences between knowledge and belief, between fact and opinion, between science and theory. We know that exercise helps with circulation and that good circulation is a key component to healthy living. Beyond that the value of exercise is disputed. A fellow coach once told me that exercise was good because it makes people strong and able to fight for what they believe in. I raised the issue that this was not a proof of the goodness of exercise, since the Nazi's believed in exactly those merits of physical activity, but used the strong bodies of a society of exercise fanatics to facilitate destruction.
I don't think home schooling is a healthy alternative to public schools. I know public schools expose vulnerable kids to all kinds of dangerous, abusive, belittling, potentially scarring relationships and activities, but it's a healthier place to learn about these things than on the street. In school there is at least some modicum of structure and supervision. And now the internet is the source kids use to find whatever they want to get into and school can be a stabilizing social environment in a world of virtual realities.
If we want a healthier children, a healthier society, we need better schools, healthier schools. Not to do a better job educating children to become better workers, that will be a natural byproduct, but the main goal should be to teach them how to live healthier lives, a job that schools already do, if haphazardly.