Once again, Kathy Sierra hits the nail between the eyes. I'll go even further and express that in general, school teaches our kids to be mindless drones.
I don't think, as some more radical homeskool phanatics do, that this is a covert government institutional thing - I think it is a simple "how do we deal with the numbers and lack of parental involvement" thing. My wife worked for our school district in special education - she is an amazing tutor - teaching reading to kids who "would never read." - because she is passionate and doesn't follow the curriculum but models the child's learning style. Here is her homeschool blog - tell her to write more - she believes she isn't creative... shhhh don't tell her I sent you... Schools, even with 20 kids per class (that is a small class) are burdened with pandering to the whim of the school board and stuck with parents who feel it is the responsibility of the school to teach their children. We have always felt - even when our kids attended the local school - that we were the primary educator and that the school was supposed to come along side and assist us. I would go even further than the articles and experts that Kathy sites. In fact, I would argue that for the huge majority of students in high-school, for instance, that forcing them to take, algebra, geometry, and then algebra II is foolishness. Rather than push all 25 students in a given class through these subjects - regardless of their natural aptitude, I would rather see the 10 good and passionate math students move on to algebra II. When an entire class of students are forced to take a more advanced math class they necessarily reduce the efficiency of learning and ability to advance that the top students. Furthermore, it is likely that many of these students have aptitudes in other areas - areas they are not being exposed to. To be honest, I am more interested in fostering a love for learning by playing to their strengths. If there are classes that should be required for all students, it should be "how to balance a checkbook" and "basic accounting principles" and "basic car maintenance" and other life skills. Then, create more focused areas of study based on interest and aptitude. I'm not indicating a "forced into aptitude" control - if a student is not great at algebra or calculus but has an interest, let them go into the more advanced class - but don't slow the top end of the class for this student. Their parents have to be involved in that decision and get help via tutoring or some other method.
But Matt, you said this explained why my career is stalled. Yes, I did. One of my points of contention is that we have been trained as workers/employees, to follow a particular path towards career achievement and even finding work. Due to this, some perpetual career myths exist: 1) We find work through want ads; 2) We need to get that degree or cert before taking on that role; 3) You can't get hired by that big company by circumventing HR; 4) You have to tow the party line/kiss ass to get ahead; 5) Hide & protect your special knowledge, it is all you have of value; 6) If you change careers, you must start at the bottom; 7) The man is trying to keep you down; 8) The guy/gal who got the promotion is lucky; 9) Good enough is good enough; 10) Don't rock the boat; These myths represent the "common wisdom" you get from college career centers and maybe even your parents. But the truth is that all of these are trumped by passion and playing to your strengths. We homeschool because I know I can teach my children to live and think from a perspective of possibility not limitation. The majority of traditional education is to protect the status quo - to teach kids to get by - get to the next small incremental rung. Passion plays no part in such thinking. That's why we can't fix it - it would require the educator to promote the individual - and if you have 20 individuals in a classroom it's pretty chaotic. We have 4 individuals in our homeschool and it's darn near impossible to manage them. But I can promise this, they won't play by the rules… they will set them.