9 Reasons Why Mainstream Schools are Failing our Children

mainsteam education fail and control children

Our children are experiencing great difficulties with mainstream education in western countries, and we can confidently say that our society’s current problems reflect greatly the constant failings of our education system, tightly linked with the economic and political system.

Clearly, major reforms are urgently required as drastic changes must occur not only on teachers’ mindset level but also on parents’ levels of awareness and in their choices of their children education and searches for the best education institution for their children. There are a number of alternative school systems all over the world that address these issues, that are appropriate for a healthy and strong child development and that successfully prepare students for the current and future challenges our next generations will be faced with. These alternative schools will be briefly mentioned at the end of this article.

I will name and discuss here briefly 9 reasons why mainstream education keeps failing our generations of children although this list is not exhaustive and can easily become larger if we were to be dead honest and scrutinize all factors involved in the damaging of our children by public and private mainstream schools.


  1.  Standardization

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life believing that it is stupid.” – Albert Einstein.

The current school system places every child in the same basket. There is little awareness and nurturing of each child’s unique gifts, special talents and abilities, and all students are forced to ingurgitate the same curriculum, at the same speed, at the same age and in the same subjects. The absence of a system in place actively fostering and sensitive to individual differences, talents and competences is killing consistently the innate ingeniousness of each child, the creativity and the originality of our global future community as a whole.


     2.  The teaching of competition

Encouraging children to work for petty and contemptible rewards such as gold stars, papers marked 100 and tacked to the wall, A’s on report cards, medals, contest winning etc, fosters a spirit of competition which is detrimental in the end to our entire society : we live on the same boat and there are no winners and losers. If you win, I win. If you lose, I lose too. It is an illusion to believe the world is split between winners and losers. Without others we cannot be nor do anything. If one’s wins are based on the exploitation of others rather then their grow, they will pick up the dry fruits of a starved plantation (literally and figuratively).

     3. Exclusions of people with the best potential

Mainstream schools wave out the independent, the clever, those who can think for themselves, the teacher-challengers and the non-submissive. Thus, geniuses and potential change makers are likely to end up in prisons, in substance misuse patterns, or in other forms of marginal lives excluded by society and by the economic opportunity to make a living.

“Our large schools are organized like a factory of the late 19th century: top down, command control management, a system designed to stifle creativity and independent judgment.’ – David T Kearns, CEO Xerox


      4.   The fostering of dependence

Classic schools seem to be built upon the supposition that every child is a kind of idiot who must be taught to think. Therefore, students learn early on dependency and obedience to a hierarchical pyramidal system placing them from the start at the bottom scale and have them work for some merit and the right to earn a living. This learning context cultivates the best ingredients for developing low self-esteem, diminishing of courage, avant-gardism & change-making drives, and for developing insecurity based on fear of punishment, law reinforcements and authority.

      5. Schools teach children to be good in and at school

Schools teach children to be good in and at school, they don’t teach them to be good in life. Students learn to become good at testing and at spitting out memorized material that they will soon forget when out of school. About 90% of subjects learned will not be used in their actual life and profession. Most of what they will learn and use in life, will do so at the work place, in relationships, at leisure, at friendships, and simply at the school of life.

      6. Effective learning comes through self-education and does not occur via one way communication-teaching

Self-education is the only form of sustainable education therefore schools must first teach students to teach themselves. Self education is the only form of lasting and fruitful education as through this freedom comes the responsibility of choice and learning what they must/want to learn, and self-teaching fosters unique talents, the blossoming of true inner callings and excellence in their field of predilection.

      7. In a rapidly changing word, we need tools to learn how to find the information not to memorizes useless things

“Our rapidly moving, information-based society badly needs people who know how to find facts rather than memorize them, and who know how to cope with change in creative ways. You don’t learn those things in school.” – Wendy Priesnitz


     8. The most valuable and important things are not taught in school

Mainstream education doesn’t offer classes on what is considered the most important to the human experience. For example schools rarely offer things such as relationships classes, conflict resolutions workshops, peace making classes, sex classes (and I’m not referring to sex & procreation education), making new friends classes, dating classes, how-to-love someone classes, how-to-raise and love a child classes, how-to-build a business classes, how-to-mange depression or stress lectures, how-to-help others (talk them out of suicide, lend a hand, ask them meaningful questions) or simply how to be yourself. We have accepted silently and implicitly that these things are learned at the ‘school of life’.

But shouldn’t we wonder: why wasting 18- 25 yrs of our short life learning things that will not build the main foundations for a stable, meaningful and sane life? Are we still accepting that material and economic success come before inner peace and a fulfilled life?

     9. Schools allow future bullies to blossom and further develop

Yes this can sound controversial but in reality it isn’t. It is an actual fact. The argument that kids learn socialization at (and only/mainly in) school has reached the expiry date long time ago. What they truly learn, is that the world is spit between the dominants and “weaks”, and bullying and discrimination of the different and of “outsiders”. They learn that if some doesn’t fit the expected and imposed cultural, educational and economic standards, they will be rejected outcasts, punished publicly and shamed in the eyes of powerless and/or forced to conform children.

Schools are bully factories where future tyrants excel in a perfect context of competition, exploitation and domination of the most sensitive, idealization of external/material signs of success, and predetermined definitions of success, which is clearly not helping any side in the long terms as bullies become often outlaws and their victims emotionally and permanently marked by these early experiences.

In conclusion, mainstream education is failing our future generations to a point that should concern as all and make parents more responsible in seeking out alternative organizations addressing and proactively combating the above issues first through the values and the philosophical stance of these educational institutions.

Among such schools, we find Montessori, Steiner, Harkness or Sudbury schools but also home schooling. These alternative schools operate under the basic tenets of individuality and democracy and take these principles fully into the education arena. In Sudbury schools for example, students have complete control over what and how they learn, as well as how they are evaluated, if at all.


“There is no neutral education. Education is either for domestication or for freedom.” – Joao Coutinho

Give your children the gift of freedom and they will bring us back more than we can ever dream of.



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