In having just graduated from college, I've been bombarded with questions with regards to my future plans. Upon relaying to family and friends my "affinity for the alternative," I am generally met with the same question, which, in a way, relates to the second question in the discussion. That is, "Are these kids ready for the societal boundaries they face once they are done attending such a place?"
I think in asking this question, we are, although generally without intention, validating the structures that exist in the society in which we live, and assuming schooling's role in the perpetuation thereof. In my personal opinion, the society in which we live has a vast array of deep-rooted problems that need addressing. When one asks the same question of many of our public schools, the answer is often an emphatic yes! Too many of our schools prepare people to enter into a stratified society that has yet to solve, actively or fervently address, or even recognize, problems of racial inequality, economic inequality, gender inequality, etc...If the success of a school is that simple, then why all the fuss?
However, when you flip the question on its head, rather probing whether our society is one that I hope our schools regenerate for eons to come, I think the public schools get a similarly emphatic negative response. When you think of some of the alternatives out there, which better approximate the ideologies of the anarchist and other progressive theorists, you see that the goal of their methods inspire one to internalize the beauty of natural inquiry, of thinking, and of knowing. Is a society full of people with an honest appreciation of knowledge a better one that we have today? I think, in many ways, it certainly would be.
In short, I don't want to change the school for the sake of fitting into our current society, rather, I want a society that is produced by the type of school/childhood/quest for knowledge I deem to be ideal.
Indeed, logically speaking, if we were to let society dictate that which, inherantly defines that society, we will be utterly stagnant. Such an arrangement cannot exist if we wish to have progress of any kind.
Because the system of schooling should always be changing to produce the ideal society, I think any argument is relevant, provided it is fueled by the vision of a better society.