Dear Ms. Dixon,
Your insight is badly needed and you state your beliefs extremely well. I have to say that your characterizations of “aristocratic” and “a reflection of privileged status” echo my own observations. However, I am compelled to object to a couple of your assumptions.
While it is true that children who are accorded respect, dignity, and a loving relationship at home or in school generally thrive in terms of social adjustment; the sort of learning that is judged to be beneficial and essential by certain adults or “experts”; mental health indices, and even physical health generally, those things should not be considered to be education and they do not signal an adequate capability to “think critically” or operate as a fully autonomous individual.
One of the most consequential errors that people make is to conflate school attendance, good behavior, and school success (passing tests, getting gold stars and “good” grades, staying out of trouble, and being able to deal with complex or sophisticated material) with education. Education is not even in the eye of the beholder; it is in the eye of the person possessing it. Education is ineffable. It can’t be measured or ascertained from external observation, although its absence is often all too apparent.
The ship has already sunk for millions of people alive and yet to be born under this pathological paradigm. Plugging holes or offering mere alternatives for those fortunate few is utter nonsense. The ship that we (most of us who lack privilege or good fortune) are stuck on exists and persists because of the attendance requirement. The laws mandate a monolithic institution in which selected people have immense power and tenacity, the staff and others can only function by controlling behavior and thought and by following (or pretending to follow) the indoctrinating curriculum, which involves politically correct responses and predigested “knowledge”, and students passively wait in their boxes for their rewards.
The alternatives that remove kids from traditional schools are great for those who will make sacrifices or those who don't have to give anything up to provide freedom and a rich environment. In many cases they compensate for a difficult home situation. However, they will never be more than tokens and exceptions to the general rule.
Talking and communicating ideas is therapeutic and satisfying for participants. But, talk is cheap and recycling even genius schemes and methodologies among a small proportion of the total population means that the ship remains on the bottom of a deep ocean. Until there is action that begins to move us away from compulsory attendance in authoritarian bureaucracies, we will be living groundhog day over and over, endlessly. You have great potential. You may very well figure it out and be willing to take a stab at real change. Start with asking why paternalistic people should be delivering education according to their interpretations and cultural and other values, and why children should be denied constitutional and civil rights because of their age or status.