Love is certainly the basic need that all kids have, but it doesn’t follow that if they are loved they will thrive at school or that Peter’s ideas about change couldn’t help more children succeed.

I was very loved as a child and I certainly didn’t thrive at school. I’m far from unique in that regard.

I don’t agree that the kind of education Peter talks about couldn’t help kids from an abusive home. Peter is a proponent of democratic schooling. Many children don’t feel that school is a safe place. Democratic schooling makes school into a safe place where everyone’s voices and choices are valued and treated on an equal footing, because all take part in decision making.

Abused children would also have greater time, space and freedom to talk about their experiences to trusted friends or adults.

By getting rid of the oppositional nature of the teacher-student dynamic, they would probably feel safer to talk to adults about their experiences. Also, when one adult is responsible for directing the activities and behaviour of 30 kids the whole time, it can be hard to notice warnings signs or get to know kids on any meaningful level. But under self-directed learning, the adults present don’t have to constantly direct the children, perhaps making it easier to pick up on issues.

With regards to privilege, I don’t know if you have heard of Sugata Mitra and his work facilitating self-education among street children of India, but that’s an example of how underprivileged children can benefit from self-directed learning.

Even the abolishing of grades and classes segregated by “achievement” level would reduce class stratification, given that poorer children perform more poorly in traditional schools by these metrics.

Besides which, there’s no reason why disadvantaged or abused children couldn’t receive extra help and support as they do in the current system. There will always be kids who need more help getting through childhood.