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What if education were free?

So ask yourself: what if education were free? Would this be a benefit to civilization or not? In my own opinion, speaking from a naïve but well intentioned heart, I think it would be. Since the whole of civilization relies on education to be civilized, would we not produce better results if anyone and everyone could pursue that which they take interest in for free? Forgetting to mention that modern education as Bertrand Russell says is a political weapon used to advance the socio-economic system already in place. With that being said, I think it only right to say, that we must reform education to be adaptive to the human spirit. Any answer would suffice, as I intend to use that information to further advance my hypothesis.

  • Apr 23 2014: I have commented on this topic twice but just had another thought. Tanstaafl - There ain't no such thing as a free lunch. The student with or without the formal academic structure pays with time, effort, sweat and tears. If you paid for the education yourself, then there is additional sweat and effort.
  • Apr 22 2014: Education is free. You've been lead to believe otherwise. This perpetual yielding to external authority is at the root of mucho problems and a general mental dullness in the population. Education is Free. We are not, however......not yet.
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      Apr 22 2014: As long as education is measured by certificates, as it is, how could be apply your insight today?
      • Apr 22 2014: I believe it is measured by PEOPLE who place a disproportionate amount of weight on certificates. It will take People breaking ranks with tradition. Tradition, to a large degree, has enslaved us. Credentialism is a vast industry similar to the war industry......similar to the prison industry.......similar to the drug and food industries.

        It will take replacement........not reform. It will take us, caring not so much about ourselves as individuals, but us as a whole. Build new models. Let the old models die through choice.

        It will take s&@t disturbers. Ken Robinson, while funny and entertaining in his talks about education revolution is only a reformer. They are a dime a dozen.
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          Apr 22 2014: And what do you do to make your view become worth more than a dime? How do you change society without reform yet fundamentally and as a whole?

          I assume you have a working alternative and the means to convince the majority to follow?

          What is it and when will you make it happen?
      • Apr 22 2014: Society changes on its own with or without us. Beware of centrally administered plans. My plan is not even worth a dime. :-)
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          Lejan .

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          Apr 22 2014: It seems to me that societies tend to centrally administer themselves or endure to be administered by a center, which makes reform from within and by its majority a valid way to me. Solitary life is always optional, I assume, although its getting more and more narrow to do so... :o)
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    Apr 17 2014: Some wise man said, "If you did not pay for it, someone else did! This applies to almost everything including education."

    The education and other services that some people perceive or think is free is not really free - responsible citizens working hard to support themselves and their families are also giving a huge chunk of their earnings to the government in form of taxes. April 15 is one of the most stressful and dreadful days for many responsible citizens.

    "Total spending by public elementary-secondary school systems in fiscal year 2010 was $602.6 billion, a 0.4 percent decrease from 2009. Total current spending was $524.0 billion, of which $317.8 billion went to instruction and $179.0 billion to support services, such as school bus transportation and the operation and maintenance of school buildings and equipment. Per pupil current expenditures amounted to $10,615 with great variation among the states. The District of Columbia led all states at $18,667 followed by New York ($18,618).

    Revenues for our nation’s public elementary-secondary school systems come primarily from local government sources of revenue (when combined) for a total of $261.4 billion in fiscal year 2010. When revenue sources are looked at independently, state sources to schools of formula assistance monies ($176.6 billion) are the largest single source of funding followed closely by local government receipts of property tax monies ($169.4 billion)."



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    Apr 23 2014: Air is still free. Rain is still free, for the most part. Education cost money, a lot of money.

    There are schools that don't charge tuition and other fees. There are many online educational programs that don't charge fees also.

    Educational programs, whether offered by brick-and-mortar schools or onlline companies, cost money. One of the most popular educational programs online is Khan Academy. Mr. Khan funded his academy from his own savings. He was running out of money when some rich benefactors came to his rescue. Now he is accepting donations to continue teaching students online tuition free.

    "Khan Academy is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization (Tax ID Number: 26-1544963). Your gift is tax-deductible as allowed by law."
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    Apr 22 2014: The best Education is already free, on an internet, in libraries, books etc., as it is said in some comments.

    The thing that is NOT free - is a Diploma - it surely costs some money to be called and "recognized" as an "educated" fellow.

    There is no school yet that is able to provide comprehensive education. These days - "professional knowledge" is too "specific". One has to complete knowledge by him/herself.
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    Apr 22 2014: A 'well intentioned heart' and lots of them within a society is to me the only condition for education to become free for anyone.

    I was lucky that I was borne in such a society in which education comes free of charge and as there are many other countries which follow the same principle, we have more than enough prove that it works.

    Nevertheless, that one can 'pursue that which they take interest in' for free is no guarantee that the education acquired on those individual ways will make for a living within the same society later, which in return compromises the freedom of choice in what to pursue, on which in my view societies still have to evolve to free themselves of those restrictions.
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    Apr 21 2014: Education is free; the school system would cost money because no reasonable person should expect teachers and other staff to give their time and life for nothing.
    In pursuit of education in the real sense of the word, it has a price too. It would take time, effort and persistence.

    So many people are not as interested in education as they make a show of it.
  • Apr 20 2014: I am for "free" education but there also must be a sense of responsibility and appreciation. There can not be a sense of entitlement and they will be given an education. People educate themselves; teachers, parents aid in the process but the student must be in charge of their education, both the successes and the failures.

    Too many students think that education is something they are given, not earned and needs their work. I still could not believe a college student wrote the reason he had a bad grade was the professor was not entertaining enough.
  • Apr 20 2014: Many ideas that sound great have unintended consequences. First, understand that today, education can re (relatively) free for low-income families. There are many sources of grants that allow students to get most, if not all of their education paid for. Second, what is REALLY hard, is to determine those that will truly work hard and benefit society with the education, and those that will take advantage of the "free", and actually hurt society by not working, but taking the free without benefiting society. If we could determine the answer to this question, we could figure out a lot in this world (even beyond education).
    How do we balance all of the various questions and motives? Help those that truly need it? Not help the wealthy by giving "everyone" something for free, including those that can afford? Not spend on those that will "use" the system?
    It's not easy. Let's make sure that any answer moves us forward and not backward. Let's figure it out.
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      Apr 19 2014: Based on accounts of concerned citizens, many of us are not completely aware of the real cost of education. It is very important that every student, parent, and citizen should know that it cost a lot 1) to build and maintain schools and 2) pay the salaries and benefits of school administrators, teachers, and support personnel.

      To restate the statement of Mr. Kelly above:

      Tennesee community college spending per student per year is $ XX,XXX.xx. Students don't pay tuition fees because the state has collected enough taxes and federal contributions to pay for the costs.

      Why is it so important that everyone of us should know the cost of education?

      Ask any school teacher and administrator these questions:

      1) How many students squander their opportunities to get good education?
      2) How many parents are uninvolved in their children's education?
      3) What is the percentage of students who drop-out of middle school?
      4) What is the percentage of students who drop-out of high school?
      5) What is the percentage of students who drop-out of college?

      And how many people who work for the school system are fully aware of the cost of education? How many are dedicated to their jobs?

      The truth will surprise many of us.
  • Apr 18 2014: Matthew

    Exactly how do you define a 'human spirit"? Is it identical in all humans? Can a set curriculum, defined and administered by one or a group of humans satisfy the spirits of all humans. Or should the many be forced to comply to the new curriculum to better serve the State/ the few/.
    As some have said here; free is not synonymous with quality and usually more associated with poor quality and incompetence.
    Who defines 'civilized' and exactly what does that mean? Do we have a set definition that all people must adhere to?
    Are unions still at work in your educational system?

    Article 26. UN Declaration on Human Rights

    (1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.
    (2) Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.
    (3) Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.

    Is this what you had in mind?
  • Apr 18 2014: There is no such thing as free, somebody pays, I believe Health and Education should be a right of citizens. It could easily be financed by cutting our military budget. Let corporations fight and finance their own wars and task our military with guarding our own borders "ONLY".
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    Apr 18 2014: Intelligence doesn't depend on whether one has money or not. Access to top notch education in general requires money.
    So, there obviously is a disconnect.
    This disconnect would disappear with free education.
    However, access to free education must still be controlled in some way, to make sure that only people that are actually qualified get access to free education. Rigorous admission exam could be a way to filter out the ones that qualify from those that don't.
    I also think that free education should be as demanding as possible. The idea is to make it free but at the same time to cultivate the best brains.
    In order to make high quality education accessible to people who don't have the financial resources, there could be another option as well. People could get the education initially for free, but, once they start working, will have to pay back a certain percentage of their salary during a given period of time to cover the cost of their education.
  • Apr 17 2014: Well, you know that in most of western Europe it used to be free. In fact, in every western country other than the US it was free between the 1950's and very recently. This was also true of medical care. It meant anyone could get an education provided their entry scores were high enough. This has recently changed and it now costs quite a bit of money although the cost has been deferred until the student earns a salary. This avoids the severe debt and saving frenzy of many people in the US. The interesting thing is that no one appears to value a free service until it is to be taken away. This is now happening in many countries. I took part in a fee university education in Australia and valued it greatly. The good thing about it was the fact that it was independent of a great many political manipulations and the kind of money grubbing that now occurs. In addition, the creation of fee paying degrees mean that the popularity of a course now determines its survival. This is a truly terrible development since it removes the ability of educators to ensure that students obtain a wide and proper education in their field.
  • MR T

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    Apr 16 2014: It's interesting how an undergraduate degree where I live has become devalued by employers by the sheer fact that there are so many people with them now, compared to before.
  • Apr 16 2014: Literacy and Numeracy should be a Universal Human Right (I will pay when I am a trillion-zillionheir) but not any other subject (I'm not a bottomless pit.)