Mary Moberly, a young woman just 15 years old, wrote this piece. She lives in Manhattan, Kansas. I have been reading her two websites for the past few months, ever since I saw that she referred to a post on this website.
If you look at her two websites, Tea and Crumpets Zine and Just Go Boil Something, you will discover her wide-ranging interests and accomplishments, both remarkable for someone so young. I particularly recommend her essay What Makes a Well-Educated Person?
I read the following article and was so impressed by it that I wrote to Mary and asked if I could reprint it here. She agreed.
A Declaration of Independence from Public Schools
By Mary Moberly
Because you have taken from me seven years of imagination, seven years of creativity, and seven years of learning,
Because you have kept me (for seven years) locked up in an artificial environment with artificial knowledge, and artificial friends, and mentors forced to be artificial,
Because you have taught me that any friends I have must be my own age, must know little more than myself, and are only for recess and small talk,
Because you have taught me that trees are dangerous, and made me climb artificial ones instead, while you sawed off all the real branches within my reach,
Because you never taught me how to walk or run for the sheer joy of it,
Because you wasted my precious time and made me stay up late, frustrated and crying, doing busywork for countless hours, forcing me to write down the answers in the book, the answers to the worksheet, and memorize the answers to the test, answers that, whether right or wrong, I had to know, to pass tests which I have no memory of,
Because you never taught me how to learn what I want to learn,
Because you never taught me how to truly express myself, and only constricted me with rules, and blanked my mind, so that I could not write,
Because you never taught me that math is beautiful, that it contains the essence of the universe, and is more than just numbers and rules,
Because you never taught me how to read music in my head, and write it, because you told me not to whistle during class, or in the halls,
Because you have imprisoned many children within your walls, and stolen their childhood,
Because the people who work for you were taught in you and do not know another way of teaching,
Because you are a monster, a Frankenstein, that good people controlled at first, but which now controls them, (they do not destroy you because they are afraid),
Because education is now considered something to “deal with” rather than something to put one’s whole heart into,
Because your very ways are un-American, because you command everyone within your walls where to sit, what to wear, what to eat, when to eat, what to read, when to read, what to write, when to write, what to draw, when to draw, even when to use the bathroom and how to learn,
I Declare Independence from you, Public Schools.