Modern secondary schools are education
factories. They apply the principles of production line management and
specialisation that were so successful in the production of automobiles
and computer to the education of young adults. Large numbers of students
are brought together in one place to achieve economies of scale. Young
students are fed into the factory at one end and proceed through
sequence of processes until they come out the other end as “well-rounded
Efficiencies are also achieved by getting teachers and counsellors to
specialise. One teacher knows how to tighten the cylinder head and
another and another can fit a door, but no one teacher is able to apply
every process that is required to educate a student.
Teenage boys have enormous energy that is easily aroused. I am not
sure why anyone would want to put a thousand of them together in one
place. It is just asking for trouble, yet that is what happens at
Teenage boys are easily influenced, so they need good influences.
Unfortnately the only adult influence in the education factory is the
teachers, but they are outnumbered thirty to one. Most teachers are good
people, but they are often not the types of people that boys respect as
role models. Most of the influencing is done by other boys attending the
education factory, and this is often the wrong kind of influence. Boys
need to be with adults who can provide a more positive influence.
The education factory applies thee traditional classical education,
which includes English literature, mathematics and history. Most teenage
boys find these topics boring and irrelevant, and bored minds look to
mischief for entertainment.
While they are attending the education factory, most boys do not need
to earn their income. Most of what they need is provided by their family
or the state. If they participate in part-time employment, they able to
spend their earnings on themselves, because they have no other
responsibilities. The education factory trains boys to be selfish, idle
and careless. They are fully sexed up, but too immature to take
responsibility for raising children.
In the information age, the education factory is a redundant
technology. Massive volumes of information and knowledge are now
available to everyone anywhere. We no longer need a knowledgeable
teacher to tell us what we need to know. All that is needed is someone
to teach us to search for information and to distinguish between good
information and unreliable information. The production line of the
education factory does not do this very well, because it is designed for
a one size fits all approach, whereas in the information age, education
must be personalised to be relevant.
In traditional societies, boys began working as soon as they
developed adult strength. At the age of twelve or thirteen they were
expected to begin contributing to the income of their family. This had
If they did not work hard, their entire family suffered, so they
developed good work habits at a young age.
Young men usually worked alongside other adult men who were a
strong influence on their lives.
They learnt to cooperate with a team to get a difficult task done.
They see the benefit of submitting to those with wisdom and skills.
Their education was part-time and related to the work they were
doing, often in the form of apprenticeship training. Their learning
was relevant to their doing, so they did not get bored.
Hard physical work harnessed their enormous energy to productive
purposes. When they finished work, they were usually too tired to
get into mischief.
A young man would usually begin working on the drudge jobs that no
one else wants to do. He quickly realises that if he does want to be
stuck on drudge forever, he had better gets some skills that make
himself more useful to his community. Education was the key to
escaping from drudgery, not a time of drudgery as it is now.
By the time he is twenty, a young man would have developed good work
habits, established some good skills, learned to take responsibility for
himself and others. He may have developed some leadership skills and may
have built up some savings toward a home or a business.
We need an education model that combines the power of the information
age with the benefits from of youth work activity in traditional
societies. Something like this.
Boys should be sent to work when they reached the age of thirteen.
The work should have a strong physical element to absorb the ample
energy of youth. Much of the hard work in modern society is done by
older men with not education. This work should be being done by
Once they begin working, boys should be expected to cover all
their living costs. They would also make a contribution to their
family to help with supporting younger children or aging
Each boy should work closely with a mature adult with good work
habits and communication skills. He would learn about life from
listening and observing this older man.
Each boy should find a tutor in his community to teach him how to
learn. The tutor would find out what the boy was interested in
learning and help him to find the information relevant for his work
and life. When necessary the tutor would refer him to another person
with more skills in a particular field of endeavour.
Young boys should be encouraged to save a significant share of
their income. By the time they are twenty, they should have saved
enough for a deposit on a house or to get started in their own
business. This would equip him to support a wife and family.
Once they are aged seventeen, some young men may need to
participate in a more formal education organisation, like a
university or technical institute. This should not be seen as an
escape Families would only allow them to take this direction, if
they have saved enough to pay for the cost of their education from
I just goofed around at secondary school, because I wanted to be a
farmer and English, French and History did not seem very relevant. The
one thing I gained was a love for reading. I was hopeless at sport, so I
spent all my spare time in the school library to avoid sporting
activities. I read large number of biographies and this inspired me that
I could be anything that I chose to be. I left school when I was aged
fifteen, because I was bored.
I worked with my Father who was a hard worker and a very good
farmer. I learned good work habits from him.
I soon discovered that if I had a job to do, I might as well get
on and get it done. No one else would do the job for me, so if I put
it off, it would still be hanging over me tomorrow.
Some of the work was physically demanding. It did not take me long
to realise that I was not built for physical work and so I started
to think about how I could use education to get me into a type of
work that would suit me better.
My father was always looking for better ways to do tasks. For
example when docking lambs, he worked out a way to do each action
quicker. We applied this approach to all or tasks and I still find
myself doing this.
I realised that there was a lot that I did not know about farming.
I started reading voraciously to learn what I needed to know. I
discovered that education is interesting when it is relevant to what
you are doing.
Farming in New Zealand tends to get buffeted by international
economic and political events. As I thought about falling prices for
farm production, I realised that I needed to understand more about
economics and politics, so I decided to go to university and study
I prepared for and completed a university entrance by studying in
My university studies were more effective than my previous
experience of education. I got much better grades than I had ever
got before. There were several reasons. I was studying topics that
were relevant to me. I had learned good work habits and I naturally
applied these to my study. I had learned not to put tasks off. I was
an adult with a much better understanding of how the world worked.