It spans back to my childhood. See, originally, when I was young, I lived in a suburb called Spirit Ridge, and thus, attended Spirit Ridge Elementary. I lived less than a block from the rear entrance to the school, so walked there basically every single day. The relevant part of this is what we were allowed to do come lunchtime. Said rear entrance had in it a forest, part of the school grounds, and it was right next to the official playgrounds. (There was a little-kids playground if memory serves me in front of the forest, and a normal-kids playground to the left.)
The environment there was awesome. There were giant tires, linked together. (I actually have a story relating to the giant tires, but it's personal, and my memory of the event is so blurred by the passage of time that the event is more fictional than fact to me by now. I was either five or six when it happened, though.) You could walk across the giant tires, even though they led nowhere. There might have been metal slides, though that mighta been a local playground my family occasionally went to instead. There was a dirt field, where games were played. But most importantly of all...
...There was virtually zero adult supervision. Oh, sure. There were adults around, in case they were needed. But for the most part, kids were allowed to do anything. They created and played games with their own rules. (A popular one was soccer, but with rules not enforced by adults, and zero segregation or policy-NOT-segregation; kids picked teams as they felt like picking teams.) They had wonderful games of hide-and-seek in the forest, which we were allowed to play within. In a word, that school, Spirit Ridge Elementary, was a school in which children were free to be children and have fun.
Now, mind you, my experience of this might not be the best. I had trouble socializing even way back then, so I didn't get to participate in many of these events, but I thoroughly enjoyed those that I did and I have three siblings who told me stories about the events I didn't play in, so I got a fairly good idea of what was going on through it, plus simple observation. (One of the things I would do is dig in the dirt field searching for arrowheads, while watching the children around me have fun. I don't remember what feelings I had then, but I don't think it was particularly likely they were feelings of loneliness and exclusion. I think the feelings I felt were mostly that of contentness at watching these fascinating things unfold around me, as I toiled away at my own little task, in my own world.)
...And then, circa 1999-2000, my family moved. I objected heavily to the move, constantly complaining to them about it, yet they made the move to my current home in the forest (well, sort-of. I've heard the term 'sub-rural' to describe it, but it's basically a private road with a few houses, with each house having a lot of yard which is mostly forest). The important bit here, though, is what school they sent me to. As an adult, I can understand the principles and general concerns of the school, but as a kid, I could not. The school I got sent to, Dutch Hill, I still even now understanding their motivation, have EXTREMELY bitter memories of for what they inflicted on me. It was traumatic. To put it simply, Spirit Ridge Elementary was everything a kid could have dreamed and hoped for in a school.
...Dutch Hill is everything a child like me would fear. The school gets its name from a hill in which is school property, similar to the forest of Spirit Ridge. But in contrast, kids were NOT allowed on the hill, in spite of the potential for fun rolling-down-the-hills or frolicking-in-the-field games. It was forbidden. The school had a seemingly-endless supply of policewomen on the playground to enforce these regulations, too. There were a ton of rules, allegedly to help fairness, but rule-lawyering kids (and yes, there were plenty of those around) would exploit these to their maximum, following them to their literal letter rather than intention, and complain to the supervising adults...resulting in someone like me being bullied. And, yes, it WAS bullying--not physical. Oh, no. With that much oversight, no kid could get away with violence.
They could, and did, get away with emotional bullying. They did these things not because they wanted equality...but because hurting someone like me gave them pleasure. I was an easy target. I was not that good at fighting back against someone who had mastered the art of manipulating adults to their side.
Worse, the adults supervising forced people playing games to play them by rules. The result? I never had an urge to play, because their rules sucked and weren't fun. (My siblings shared this complaint, by the way, so it wasn't just me.) Oh, and one final thing. I could be mistaken about this fact, but I believe at Spirit Ridge, everyone had their lunch at the same time, meaning kids of all grades could interact together, encouraging relationships with kids of various different ages. I know for a FACT that at Dutch Hill, the times were pre-assigned, and I believe it was more or less into big-kids versus small-kids. Which made me miserable even more, because in the few instances I preferred interacting with kids, I preferred doing so with older kids like my big brother and sister, not kids of my own age.
And this extended to the bus as well, since living where I do, it's either the bus or a car to that school. The bus enforced a segregation. Big kids got the back of the bus, and little kids were forced to the front...but this made me deeply, deeply nervous, uncomfortable, and frankly, infuriated me. I felt comfortable in the back of the bus. Back there, I could see everyone. Back there, I could hear everyone. I like to observe, not be observed. I liked interacting with the larger kids as well, so being forced to the front just because of my age was cruel.
The result of all these rules and regulations was that I was being strangled by my school. I was absolutely miserable, and my free spirit was being crushed...and my mother knew it. She saw it. I wasn't afraid to express my feelings to her, and she could tell through my complaints that what I was going through was NOT healthy for me. I was being destroyed by the environment. The strict, borderline-totallarian rules are the absolute opposite of what I needed. Especially since nobody ever explained to me why those rules were there in the first place! They just assumed I'd know, or they simply never gave thought to it and expected obedience that I was physically incapable of giving.
So my mother did what any loving, responsible mother would do. Public schooling was NOT working, so she took me out of it. (Needless to say, my opinion of public school has...not been great. Individual teachers might be fine. In fact, I still remember one of my teachers at Dutch Hill that I loved. But as a whole system, I feel like it's broken, because children are not like cars, to be put in an assembly line, which is precisely what I felt Dutch Hill was treating us as. Children are people, each individual, each with our own needs, and the more rules you have and the stricter you are with those rules, the more you're trying to enforce a universal standard that just. never. will. work.)
And guess what? Thirteen years of private schooling at Sky Valley, a hybridized home-schooling school (a school for homeschoolers, as it were) was the result, and those were some truly wonderful years of my life. I had instilled in me a bit of a cause-effect mindset. Consequences of my actions, and all that. I got to see doing good things making me feel good, and feel bad things causing bad results. I'm sure it was hard on my mother to have a difficult child like me around, who struggled with a fair number of concepts as traditionally-defined society would have them. Yet she's always been there to help me through it. It was precisely what I needed: personalized learning.
I got exposed to society as a whole, so I wasn't some recluse. I got to interact with the world and develop an understanding of how it works, and got exposed to semi-standard schooling practices...just on a smaller, more customized scale where the teachers were able to get to know each student individually and personally attend to them with the care and love they needed to be given. It's scientifically proven that children learn better in smaller class sizes, and at Sky Valley, we had that; a LARGE class might have 15 (at a younger age) to 21 (at an older age) students in it, but most had fewer than that. (I had some which were as little as 3-6.) Add in one-on-one time from my mother, and I got a wide variety of education, which felt satisfying. I don't think there was any better option for me.
I realize public schooling works for some kids, especially if you get a nicer school. (I'm sure Spirit Ridge Elementary is not as good as it used to be. I know for a fact that they got rid of the giant tires, for instance, because we once revisited the school years later. However, the fact that it was, at a contemporary time, VASTLY superior to Dutch Hill shows that not every school is doomed to be a failure.) But I do truly believe that nothing is more damaging than the restrictions most schools inflict on kids. They don't need nearly as much protection, oversight, and guidance as the modern generation seems to assume they do. Rather the opposite, healthy children learn to develop ways to stay safe by themselves, look after themselves, and develop their own reasons for following the rules rather than blind obedience to them.
Obviously, not every child does this. But the vast majority of them do. They're not idiots. They're not stupid. They're not helpless. They're not defenseless. Most of them are competent, know what they're doing, and in general, can handle themselves...just if we let them do it. That's not to say we should ever neglect the children. Just because they don't need constant oversight doesn't mean some oversight is bad; it's a good idea to have a loose eye on them. To be around to prevent them from causing severe harm, yet allowing them to experience minor-owwies. At least for children with a learn-by-doing (learning-from-experience) style, it's the best thing. You'd be surprised how good the results will be.