Education, in its current form, where an average child spends for 20+ years in school/college/university etc. to be able to useful to the society, is very recent human endeavor, for past 200 years or so. This is the need of post-industrialized society where the demand of highly specialized individual is higher and such long education years are necessary. Modern societies need more people who can do specialized tasks other than the manual jobs, and therefore higher need for educated people. Also, since these jobs pays well as compared to traditional jobs, it becomes a good investment from the point of individual/family as well. But like everything else in this world, this form of structured education has its own pros and cons.
First, about pros, since it outweighs the cons, otherwise , we all would not be sending our kids to the school anyway. Education, in its current structured form, other than providing formal learning of different subjects, serves many other social and emotional aspects as well. It creates an artificial environment for a growing up kid. This environment provides opportunity to explore many different specialized field to the child such as language, math, science, art etc etc in very coherent way. It also provides an artificial world to the child where s/he is mainly expose to the kids of similar age group, thus sharing a common growing up experiences (this is also cause of many other problems but nevertheless it brings many joys). School in its current form is an wonderful organization for growing up. It is kind of protective environment for the young people where they are removed from the real world experiences and can focus on development. The math, science or social science you learn in the school is long forgotten, but the foundation it built is ever-lasting. Wherever I am today, it is only because of my education. I have many fond memories of my schooling years, and also some of the life long friendship.
Now about the cons, in my opinion, the biggest disadvantage of such organized uniform education is that it creates a herd of people (according to people who oppose the formal school education in its current form at early years). In most cases, unless you are lucky to have other experiences, it removes personality from person. Of course, when you are teaching a big group of students, you can not have personalized education suitable to your personality, interests and needs (remember, we are not talking about the society where everyone should be only doctor or engineer, I am talking about society where it is fine to be an artists as long as this is what one likes to do).
Even if we assume that these cons are big (or exaggerated), in my opinion, the pros of current system outweighs heavily, and thus we are all sending kids to the school. My 5 year old daughter gets so much of exciting rich experience in her school (I will write about this on some separate post) that I personally think I can not provide to her in home. Of course, most of her problems later will be because of peer pressure, but I consider this also as a part of growing up process which is important.
So when I first learned about the home schooling, I was bit surprised. A simple Google search will bring you many more results. Later, I found out, that there is a strong society who believes in home schooling and for many parents, the disadvantages of uniform education and problems of peer pressure on young mind, is too big to send child to the school. In recent years, I have met many parents in my neighborhood, who believe in home education at early years. They take years off from work to educate their child according to the state curriculum, arrange meetings with other home schooling parents to provide social experience for themselves and for children, and try to provide as rich social and learning experience to the child as possible, but with full control. This was new to me and I found it intriguing. This is only possible in developed countries where people can afford such options, not in India where the struggle for survival is still too big, but anyway it is an interesting thing to know.