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 a sequence of processes until they come out the other end as "well-rounded adults".

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 education factories.

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 implements the 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.

Information Age

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.

Traditional Societies

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 several benefits.

  1. If they did not work hard, their entire family suffered, so they developed good work habits at a young age.

  2. Young men usually worked alongside other adult men who were a strong influence on their lives.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. Hard physical work harnessed their enormous energy to productive purposes. When they finished work, they were usually too tired to get into mischief.

  6. 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.

Better Model

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.

  1. Boys should be sent to work when they reached the age of thirteen.

  2. 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 no education. This work should be being done by young men.

  3. 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 grandparents.

  4. 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.

  5. 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 to his work and life. When necessary the tutor would refer him to another person with more skills in a particular field of endeavour.

  6. 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.

  7. 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 work.

My Experience

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.
  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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 these topics.

  6. I prepared for and completed a university entrance by studying in the evenings.

  7. 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.