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Hornberger's Blog is a daily libertarian blog written by Jacob G. Hornberger, founder and president of FFF.
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The Pursuit of Passion


A friend of mine who is a piano instructor was telling me that a parent of one of her students told her that her child loves the piano so much that she has trouble pulling him away from it. Apparently, the student, who is 17, practices several hours every day. The reason he’s able to do that is that he’s home-schooled.

Let’s assume that home-schooling was once again made illegal, as it was back in the 1950s and 60s. That boy would be forced into the public-schooling system, where he would be required to spend his time every day attaining what the educrats call a “well-rounded” education, one that would entail one hour each on such subjects as English, Social Studies, history, math, and science.

Suppose the boy were to say to the public-school educrats, “Sorry, I’m not interested in any of those subjects. All that I wish to do is play the piano all day long”

No doubt the educrats would laugh at him and say, “You’re here to get an education, boy, a well-rounded one. Now get to class before the bell rings, if you want to avoid detention”

Of course, some students would simply submit and conform, which is really the primary aim of the system. Despite all its faults and failures, no one can deny that public schooling can claim one great achievement: the production of a compliant, conformist citizenry.

Let’s assume that our piano-loving student, however, isn’t one of those types. Unable to continue spending hours every day at the piano, and forced to listen to boring lectures on subjects that don’t interest him, he becomes angry, frustrated, and distracted. He’s bored in class, doesn’t study for tests, and receives failing grades.

The educrats realize that they have a problem on their hands. The boy is not submitting and conforming. He’s a slow learner, a troublemaker. He’s obviously got a severe learning disability. He needs to be treated so that he can be like everyone else — a responsible student who learns to submit to authority and conform to the dictates of state officials.

The solution is obvious. The boy needs to be drugged, in order to help his mind reach the desired level of submissiveness and conformity. When the boy reaches the point where he is able to honestly declare, “I have become one of you,” the drug treatment can be declared a success and can be ended, assuming that the kid has not become psychologically dependent on it.

Unfortunately, all too many parents, who themselves were made into models of submissiveness and conformity by public schooling, end up trusting the state rather than their children. They are unable to recognize that it is the state’s public schooling system itself that is aberrant and dysfunctional and that their children’s resistance to it is perfectly natural and healthy. They end up supporting the state’s diagnosis and drugging of their children.

Thank goodness though that many parents have been able to achieve the necessary breakthrough, which has enabled them to recognize the damage that this aberrant system of coercion, regimentation, and conformity does to children. They have had the wisdom to remove their children from the government’s system of schooling. If only we could free every child from this aberrant system by separating school and state entirely, as our ancestors did with church and state.

Good for those parents who are letting their kid play the piano to his heart’s content. By being free to pursue his passion, not only will he be better off, so will everyone else, especially those who get to listen to his great piano performances.

This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.