In contrast to last time’s discussion of the pride-based school system mentioned in the Book of Mormon, this time we’ll take a first look at a [mostly] humility-based model. Amulon’s Lamanite school system was “pride-based” because it included tax-funded schools and rejected teaching anything to do with God or his prophets.

Until our economy becomes humility-based (Zion-like), no school could be perfectly organized on a foundation of humility towards God and our fellowman. However, I’ve found (and plan to duplicate locally) a school that integrates more humility than I’ve seen in any institution, except the LDS Church. The Sudbury Valley School in Framingham, Massachusetts, is founded on humility in several ways, we have room here to introduce one.

America’s compulsory education model, imported from the German state of Prussia in the 1850s, is rooted in the belief that children are incapable of educating themselves; that “education” is something done to the child, not something the child does.

Children are little learning machines.

Children are little learning machines.

This is an extremely prideful position to take, considering the literal Father of their spirits is an omniscient God. Children are little learning machines. They are “programmed” by their Creator to make sense of their world and master it and themselves. Any parent who has watched her infant child acquire new skills on a weekly basis would have to agree.

In our arrogance we think that when children turn 5 or 6, they require our guidance to learn. Instead of thinking we know better than the Creator, parents should take a humble approach by cooperating with our children’s God-given drive to learn. What children require to learn is what God gave them: role models, a safe environment, resources, and the freedom to explore and learn at their own pace.

A real student government sets the laws for the school.

A real student government sets the laws for the school.

The Sudbury Valley School, which has provided these very elements to students for over 40 years (along with dozens of copy-cat schools around the globe), has never had a single child develop dyslexia who started at their school. They believe this is because no child is pressured to learn to read before their little brains are fully wired for it, they all learn to read the same way they learned to walk and speak a language, both very highly complex skills.

If we are to truly build Zion, as we LDS have covenanted to do, we should consider shedding what President Joseph F. Smith called “false educational ideas” including those we adopted from the Prussians.