The public school system in America has become a dismal failure. But education in many other times and cultures has been quite successful.
The ancient Greeks, whose civilization was at its height around 500 B.C., founded Western civilization as we know it. The Athenian Greeks invented or perfected logic, drama, science, philosophy, astronomy, mathematics, literature, and much more. Yet ancient Greece had no compulsory schools.
Other than requiring two years of military training for young men that began at age eighteen, Athens let parents educate their children as they saw fit. Parents either taught their children at home or sent them to voluntary schools where teachers and philosophers like Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle gave lectures to all who wanted to learn. These great teacher-philosophers did not need a license to teach, nor did they have tenure.
The ancient Athenians had a free-market education system. The thought of compulsory, state-run schools and compulsory licensing would have been repulsive to them. The Athenians respected a parentsí natural right to direct education of their children.
In contrast, Sparta, Athensís mortal enemy, created first truly state-run, compulsory education system on record. Individual Spartans lived and died for state, and had to serve state from birth until sixty years of age. Their society was a brutal military dictatorship in which male children literally belonged to city, not to their parents.
The Spartan military government took boys from their homes and parents at age of seven and forced them to live in military-style barracks for rest of their lives. Spartan men were life-long soldiers whose highest duty was to obey commands of their leaders.