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T-34 .. A School Is Not A Building

A school is not a building; it's a place where learning occurs. Reading "Three Cups of Tea" with tales of new bridges to carry wood and concrete, I'm left thinking, "Why so much cost, so much labor, merely to erect walls and roofs where children can meet?"

Once built, the work has just begun. Hundreds must travel daily to meet in too-large groups, to hear teachers speak *at* them, to take turns scrawling on chalkboards and precious paper. Of what benefit is this central meeting place to merit such a cost?

Imagine a world where cooking never happened at home. Imagine state-mandated cafeterias where hundreds traveled daily to sit quietly in rows while prepared meals where dished out without regard to individual taste. Imagine hours of journey each day to an unnecessarily remote place, to be served by adults who knew you only as one of many. Yes, this happens of course, in the military, in camps, in shelters. But never is this considered ideal. One always longs for the comfort of your own home to prepare and eat your family's meal.

So long have we been stuck in the institutional rut we call "education" that we forget its original purpose: to provide skills for an industrialized workforce. Just as military canteens serve food for military purposes, schools serve knowledge for industrial needs. Learn your lessons, then take your place in the river of red lights you drive each night after a day of forms and calls and pointless meetings.

But it doesn't have to be like this at all. Many of us learn and work with laptops from pretty much any location we want. For twelve years I've run my business without really knowing where in the world my associates are located. With the Internet and the computer, we've achieved true location independence, which allows us to live where we like, work where we like. I've long since left the days of rush hour waiting, so why are we asking children to walk miles to learn?

In Haiti, where only half the children go to a single day of school, why are we still talking about building schools? Why aren't we talking about training adults to use laptops instead of chalkboards? Why aren't the teachers going to the children, to teach in small local groups?

Why isn't learning, as with cooking, an activity favored for the home?




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