Episode 87: Raising Luminaries: The School System Is Failing Our Kids (But Here’s What We Can Do About It!)

May 5, 2022

I THINK TODAY’S EPISODE IS GOING TO BE ONE OF THE MOST POWERFUL CONVERSATIONS WE HAVE ON THIS PODCAST, and at the same time, it’s going to be a really tough pill to swallow for a lot of people.

We are talking about why things are happening the way they are in the school systems, why schools are just not cutting it alone, how they are not going to contribute to your kids becoming the leaders they are called to be, and how schools were actually strategically designed to be like corporations during the Industrial Revolution (over 150 freakin years ago!)

You didn’t go the conventional route when it came to business, you shouldn’t be going a conventional route when it comes to your kid’s education.

Now, I’m not saying pull your kids from school. I’m saying understand and be aware of what’s happening so that you can facilitate change in your children’s lives and in their growth.

Today, we are going to have a very real, very factually historically based conversation that’s going to shake you up and change the trajectory of your future.

Let’s raise them up right!


[1:59] Shedding Some Light 

Today I’m going to get into the weeds about how and why the school system was designed. 

I want to shed some light on the purpose of school and if that lines up with your own entrepreneurial values. I also want to share some questions for you to reflect on that are going to make an impact on your kids. 

I want to preface this by saying that I’m not knocking the school system and I also stand behind and applaud so many teachers who are breaking the chains of the school system and making a positive impact. This is not a reflection on teachers specifically; this isn’t even a reflection necessarily on leadership in certain schools. I know there’s some gems out there. I simply want to talk about why the school system was designed in the first place and what it’s intended to do.

[3:54] The Change

The Industrial Revolution (1820-1870) shifted everything for the family. 

The production of goods moved from home businesses, where products were made by hand, to machine production in factories. The spread of industrialization required that people fill roles as factory workers. That’s the crux of this whole thing. They went from being home, as a family, to working in factories. Previously, these Americans worked from home, they were growing crops and their kids were alongside, witnessing them. But in the Industrial Revolution, people began to take jobs in factories, doing repetitive, mindless, cog-like work. This started to break the spirit of the American family. 

What also happened was that these new jobs for the working class were in cities, and it began to transition in the US from rural living to urban society. Young people who were once being raised on farms saw greater opportunities in the city and they started to move there. This time period transformed the lives of Americans, arguably more than any other time in US history.

When that core family, that team on a mission together, gets broken apart, splintered and goes in different directions, it changes everything. And that ripple effect bleeds into society. 

[7:50] The Corporate World

This time period impacted the idea of work and had residual effects on the corporate world of today.

You could make more money doing mindless assembly work in a factory than you could on your own farm or in your own small shop. So, for many people work started to become more about making a living, then pursuing a purpose. Families that once grew their own food and were sustaining at home, could no longer do that because they didn’t have the capacity. 

The idea of retirement was born out of this period when aging factory workers literally had nothing left in the tank and needed to be “replaced” with youthful, profitable workers. Around that same time, labor unions formed to protect the workers and negotiate better working conditions and retirement plans were developed to basically pay the older generation to get out of the way and move on.

Big business needed employees to be obedient, to follow the rules, not to question authority, or what was asked of them and certainly not to think for themselves. This then led to the need to control the future people of the workforce and forced schooling began in the 1800s.

[11:25] Forced Schooling  

Carnegie and Rockefeller, two names I’m sure you’re familiar with, were so concerned about the massive amount of people moving to the cities to work in factories, that they decided to professionalize education. In other words, they wanted to build a school system that would give them docile factory workers. That was literally the goal of school. 

We’re creating cogs. That is what it’s designed to do. I will say again, there are teachers and people within the system who break the chains of that and do incredibly good work. But to use a quote from John Taylor Gatto, who was one of the top teachers in the country year after year:”The wrong it does from a human perspective is right from a system perspective.” So, even though this is doing a detriment to our kids, from a system perspective, it’s spot on. 

And it makes sense: long rows of industrial lockers, children sitting in rows of desks all day, being told to sit down and listen all day, teachers in authority making them memorize what they say, every 45 minutes a bell rings to interrupt and tell you it’s time to change your thinking. The objective of the creation of the school system was to create future obedient workers who obey the chain of command and could operate in future big business settings. This is why it was created. 

Think about it, who succeeds in school? The rule-followers. But kids that speak out, have their own opinion, question authority, ask questions, think differently or want to learn differently? They’re the troublemakers. They’re the class clowns. 

There are state mandated standards that all kids should fall into. Academic ability is measured in test taking and fitting their mold. Sir Ken Robinson said: “There are brilliant people in this world who think they’re not intelligent because what they were good at wasn’t valued in school.” How true is that? And how detrimental is that to the development of confidence and possibility with our kids? 

[16:05] Your Kid Is Not a Widget 

There’s a problem with this, and that is that my kids aren’t widgets, and neither are yours. 

A widget is defined as a small gadget or mechanical device, especially one whose name is unknown or unspecified; a cog in the wheel. I know that, as an entrepreneur, you feel this deeply because you’ve broken the mold, you’ve broken the rules, that’s who you are at the core. 

We’re making and paving our own path. We are independent thinkers, we are asking questions, we are bucking the system. In fact, we would rather work 80 frickin hours a week for ourselves, building our dream, than punching a clock at 40 hours for somebody else, with paid vacation and weekends off. When you love what you do and you spend your days doing fulfilling work, you’re not counting down the days until you’re 65 and living for the day you can retire. You’re living now, every day in the present, creating and building your legacy today, and that won’t magically stop when you hit a certain age. 

So, why are we accepting this factory-style manufactured model for our kids if we’re rejecting it, for our way of doing business? Again, our mission at Luminary Leadership Co is not to take on the school system. I believe, as entrepreneurial parents, we have the power to make sure that we’re redirecting the messages our kids are getting to actually leverage the system. Whatever they’re hearing through the system, school, society, we can help them turn that into something better. We need to supplement and pay attention to what we’re doing at home and be intentional to offset this messaging and line of thinking if we’re going to raise future leaders and independent thinkers who can confidently rise to their calling. We can’t leave this important work only to teachers. It’s on our plate and it cannot be outsourced.

What percentage of time are you getting to model and make an impact in your child’s life? 

[20:04] A Call to Arms 

The good news is that there are things you can do about it.

The first thing is homeschooling. Now, I know that some of you may think that you can’t do it. Let me tell you, you can do anything, but you just might have to sacrifice for it. You might have to give up comfort, make tough decisions and figure it out. 

The second option is to choose from the variety of unconventional school options out there, Montessori type or independent schools.

Finally, you can supplement your child’s education. We are taking that on. As we speak, we’re creating resources, like Camp Luminary, for entrepreneurs to bring their kids and our new secret project, that we’ll be sharing really soon that you do not want to miss if any of this is speaking to you. 

We believe success starts at home. What is done in the home is most important of all, and you can start that today. Your daily way of life needs to model your values, you need to be surrounded by a community of other entrepreneurs doing this work alongside you to inspire you and give you strength because this countercultural path will feel really lonely, and we need to integrate our business into our family lives as founder families. 

This is a call to arms because our children and future generations are at stake and it’s up to us. We are the backbone of this change – the ones that are willing to break the rules and do it differently and see it through a different lens. 

So, I want to invite you to join the conversation. We are hosting a Rally Cry. It’s a long awaited shake up in the way we approach entrepreneurship and parenting so we can quit feeling guilty and live more present, abundant and fulfilling lives and raise our kids to be leaders while we’re at it. If you want to join this free conversation, head on over to https://luminaryleadershipco.com/rallycry to make sure you don’t miss the big news. We’re going to talk about what it looks like to achieve true freedom and fulfillment in business while bringing the same level of intention to your home, transforming from an entrepreneurial parent who feels tugged in two opposite directions to becoming wildly successful in business and at home, eliminating that constant cycle of guilt and overwhelm as an entrepreneurial parent. 

I’m going to leave you with a quote by John Taylor Gatto: “You either learn your way towards writing your own script in life, or you unwittingly become an actor in someone else’s script.” 

I hope today’s episode gave you what you need, and remember- there’s a generation of leaders waiting for us to step up to the call and guide them in forging their own path. Are you up to the challenge? If you are, go to luminaryleadershipco.com/rallycry and join this conversation.

Come connect with me on Instagram at @elizhartke and if there’s a topic, a question or a guest you want to hear on the show or an idea you have for us, just reach out and share that.

We do this for you so the more you tell us the more we can serve!


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