Numthang and Thangnum are homeschooled. We believe that school is not the right place for kids to fully explore their individual interests, it dulls their excitement to learn and actively discourages creativity.
Dave went to school for a total of fourteen years, yet he says he didn’t learn anything about how to live in the most basic sense. School doesn’t teach you how to feed, clothe (if necessary) and shelter yourself, it doesn’t teach you how to forecast the weather or to orientate yourself by the stars, it doesn’t teach you how to appreciate beauty, how to love, how to make love, how to live, how to achieve happiness. But school does prepares you for your future life within the system. Fulfilling the most basic biological needs is not left in your own hands, but in the hands of so-called experts and professionals, on whom you usually have no influence whatsoever.
Fukuoka’s books are full of (pretty radical) references to the school system of our civilization. He compares it to the necessity of cutting trees “into shape”, calling into question the usefulness of schooling itself and blaming the ever-accelerating alienation from Nature:
To the extend that trees derivate from their natural form, pruning and insect extermination become necessary; to the extend that human society separates itself from a life close to nature, schooling becomes necessary.
Elsewhere, he lists it among examples for the uselessness of “improved” human innovations:
The reason that man’s improved techniques seem to be necessary is that the natural balance has been so badly upset beforehand by the same techniques that the land has become dependent on them.
This line of reasoning not only applies to agriculture, but to other aspects of human society as well. Doctors and medicine become necessary when people create a sickly environment.
Formal schooling has no intrinsic value, but becomes necessary when humanity creates a condition in which one must become ‘educated’ to get along.
We believe life itself is the best school, and kids are most motivated if there is no force used. Numthang learned how to read and write Thai and English because she wanted to, and she reads, writes and speaks English much better than anyone else of her age (in fact, she almost won an English-speaking competition at a school in Krabi town, with only one older girl being better). She sees the grown-ups reading and is curious what we find so interesting about all those written words – and this was the basic concept of learning for three million years of human evolution. Kids saw what the adults were doing, found it interesting, and learned to imitate them, and they would do the same things today – if their parents would allow them to and if they wouldn’t have boring jobs.