If School Were Relevant, it Wouldn’t Be Compulsory

15 October 2013 Categories: children's rights, public school

(Photo by Laurie A. Couture)

(Photo by Laurie A. Couture)

In a democracy, holding someone hostage, subjecting them to unpaid work and denying them the right to meet their basic needs is a human rights violation. However, since the 1850’s we have been subjecting children to these conditions daily, calling it “education”.

Most children do not want to go to a place where every joy about being a child is controlled, banned or used as a reward or punishment. They don’t want to go to a place where their basic physical and emotional needs, such as food, hydration, elimination, physical activity, play, rest, sleep, comfort, affection and attention, are at the mercy of the people controlling them.

Children grow weary of years and years of being in a box that stifles their innate creative passions, interests and unique ways of learning. Children struggle to learn in environments that are increasingly developmentally inappropriate, hostile and stressful the older that they grow. Kinesthetic learners, especially boys, are especially agonized by being forced to sit sedentary for hours in chairs doing mindless busywork that bears no relevance to their way of exploring and interacting with the world.

Fiery, brilliant, kinesthetic, out-spoken explorers and creatives are often labeled in school as having brain disorders or behavioral problems and are subsequently referred for chemical restraint (i.e. “medication”). As if six hours per day, five days per week isn’t enough time stolen from the most creative and ingenious years of their lives, children are still expected to hand over the remaining few hours of their family, social, play and free time for daily, weekend, vacation and even summer “homework”!

Can we blame children for not wanting to go along with such conditions?

When certain freethinking children assert themselves and refuse to continue to blindly succumb to treatment that has made them miserable for years, we should be praising and supporting them! However, Portsmouth, New Hampshire and other cities in the “Live Free or Die” state are now using law enforcement to keep children oppressed and compliant with their own captivity. As the mother of a unschooled son who is now in college, I am appalled that in this society we treat children as if they have subhuman status. I am equally shocked and disgusted to read that the police are violating children’s private bedroom space and using physical force, physical abuse and even arrest to muscle them to attend school. In the recent case, a Portsmouth NH police officer used physical force to intimidate a 12 year old child to get out of bed. The officer also grabbed the 14 year old brother to get him out of his bed, then arrested the child when he attempted to fight back.

Imagine how you would feel if your employer sent a police officer to your home on a day that you did not go into work. Imagine how you would feel if that officer broke into your bedroom, demanded that you uncover yourself and get up. Imagine how you would feel if the officer grabbed and attacked you when you did not comply. Imagine how you would feel if the officer arrested and handcuffed you and took you away from your home before you had a chance to use the bathroom and eat breakfast. Would you want to return to a work place that sanctions that type of treatment of employees? Now imagine this happening to you when you were at the vulnerable age of 14, at a place where you are forced to do unpaid labor. Why is the community not outraged that schools collude with this treatment of children?

According to the number of times the police had reportedly been called to the home of the two children in the above case, the children demonstrated on at least 40 occasions that their school is not an environment that meets their needs. Why has their mother continued to insist that they attend?

Most parents are not aware that homeschooling is legal in all 50 states. They are also not aware of the many other alternatives to traditional public school such as alternative schools, charter schools, virtual online schools, early college and democratic, child-led schools. The media fails to educate parents about how simple it is to get started with homeschooling and that there is a strong homeschool community with active groups and social activities available to homeschoolers of all ages. When children’s needs are met, when their learning is driven by their own interests, when they are free to learn via their own their unique learning styles and when they are honored and respected, every child can succeed. The media does little to bring attention to educational alternatives, leading parents to believe that leaving their children to suffer in public school- or get arrested- is the only option.

This post is based on my article that appeared in the September 28, 2013 edition of the Portsmouth Herald under the title, Embrace Options to Public Schools.

6 Responses to “If School Were Relevant, it Wouldn’t Be Compulsory”

  1. Linda Sinclair 16 October 2013 at 5:46 am (PERMALINK)

    school is NOT compulsory in the UK! :)

    • Laurie A. Couture 17 October 2013 at 9:41 pm (PERMALINK)


      Technically, “school” is not compulsory in the USA, either, but attendance in some type of education program IS compulsory. What many parents don’t realize is that homeschooling qualifies as an “educational program”.


  2. Lesli Peterson 17 October 2013 at 9:39 pm (PERMALINK)

    I just love you more every day. I appreciate your work. Thank you.

    • Laurie A. Couture 17 October 2013 at 9:42 pm (PERMALINK)


      Thank you so much for the support! :)


  3. Joe 20 February 2014 at 7:36 pm (PERMALINK)


    This is my first time reading your articles. I just sat through a day-long work “retreat” and I came home stressed and realizing that, through-and-through, I am a kinesthetic learner who has went through a life of rigorous 1980’s miseducation that has been focused on sitting still and staring at text on a blackboard.

    Being myself has always resulted in punishment, and that complex resulted in poor grades.

    However, I started attending Art School part-time, and through Art I have found the ability to to comprehend physics and math classes. I’ve even joined the Astronomy Club, self-taught myself ElectroMagnetism, and volunteer with a Hackerspace to teach kids how to build basic robots.

    My job is pretty corporate, and quitting my job to go to “Art” school full-time terrifies me… but it also seems like I will never be truly happy unless I do.

    I’m not positive what I want out of it, other than recalibrating my path to my greatest strengths and joy, and possibly affecting the education system and public opinion to not let another kinesthetic underdog fall through the cracks.

    Thanks for the article. I guess I just needed to vent.


  4. Jackie 6 June 2014 at 7:33 am (PERMALINK)

    I realized not that long ago I will have a major anxiety attack if I think I’ll be late for an appointment. This is from being rushed to public school at 6 am, and being punished for making it there a second after the bell. They could have just let it go, but I guess going to class crying every morning for not forcing my body to perform in a way it couldn’t was supposed to have taught me something.

    If cops came to my house and forced me to go to school. I’d be like the guy in the film Brazil who after being tortured went catatonic and started singing “Bbrraazzill!” Being grabbed out of bed, and punished for fighting back. Feeling unsafe in your own home. That is how you create school shooters IMO.

    I’m lucky with anti-depressants I’m not more screwed up than I am now. We’re forcing our kids to live a dystopian sci-fi nightmare. How many more children will know the feeling of pure helplessness? How many more will graduate as I have, with a post-grad diagnosis of PTSD. I have flashbacks, they have become lesser over the years as I have forgotten more of what happened to me, no student should leave school with the mindset of a war veteran. Kids have become prisoners of the public school system.

    Worse schools will threaten parents with CPS. I don’t know if this was true but I recall some sense of fear if I didn’t show up to school I’d be taken away. I don’t know if I was told this in Special Ed in hopes of making me compliant, but I know it’s absolutely sick and abusive to hold the loss of one’s family over their head. That’s probably when I just dissociated all the time at school, knowing my only escape was in my head.


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