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For a very long time (in fact, for millennia) education was limited to training the youngest to take over the jobs of their parents (and especially their fathers, since this mainly concerned boys). The best placed parents in the social hierarchy (princes, priests, officers) had help for this and also trained their staff (scribes, doctors, teachers, soldiers). The others (peasants, craftsmen) trained their children themselves. And young people in all social classes learned nothing but this trade. Girls were taught only the rudiments of home economics and childcare. There were of course exceptions, and exceptional people, who came out of nowhere, who made incredible achievements in all fields.
Then, very recently, (in fact only since the 18th century), it became acceptable to train more and more people to practise all the professions, the titles of which remained relatively stable (doctor, lawyer, engineer, merchant) and which were thus gradually opened up to all social groups. This education was then given in specialised institutions, public or private, in charge of educating young people, for an increasing number of years and for a daily period: schools and universities.
At the same time, extracurricular activities (supplementary classes, supervised studies, canteens, sports and artistic activities, scouting, holiday camps, school transport), which had long been underestimated, neglected and ill-prepared, were gradually appearing, and now occupy more and more time each day than is spent in school for young people in many countries.
In the future, the education system will have to be completely transformed once again. Firstly, because young people will have to be trained for jobs that do not yet exist, and whose nature we cannot even guess at. Secondly, because all adults will have to be constantly trained in new skills.
And it will even be necessary to admit that training is a socially useful activity, deserving of remuneration. And that, consequently, every pupil, every student must be paid to learn; and that, conversely, no one can be paid if they do not learn.
Secondly, all those who spend time with children and give them more than just the basics of education should be considered as educational staff. This concerns the staff of sports clubs, music conservatories, art schools as well as canteens and school transport, and all those who, from near or far, occupy some of the time of the young.
But even more so, in the future, we must be concerned with training those who occupy the third third of children’s lives, obviously the most important: the parents.
It makes no sense to leave each young adult founding a family, all over the world, without any training other than that which they can find by chance in more or less serious reading. They should be trained in major disciplines, in essential fields, which condition the entire life of future generations: No one in particular teaches future parents how to use discipline, how to develop their children’s curiosity and motivation, how to deal with screens, how to organise the complementarity of family members, how to balance family life and solitude, how to avoid involving children in their parents’ disputes, how to provide them with sentimental and sexual education, how to avoid all forms of physical or verbal violence, how to help each child to find himself or herself, how to help them to become parents themselves, and so many other things. And yet there have been entire libraries of analyses of best practices in these matters for decades. We cannot, of course, go so far as to imagine a “licence to parent”, but we can at least be more demanding in the way society can grant itself the right to take children away from unworthy parents; and at least offer them some rudimentary training in the essential areas.
Only societies which take parenting seriously will have a decent future.