By Jack Parkos | United States
“School days, I believe, are the unhappiest in the whole span of human existence. They are full of dull, unintelligible tasks, new and unpleasant ordinances, brutal violations of common sense and common decency. It doesn’t take a reasonably bright boy long to discover that most of what is rammed into him is nonsense, and that no one really cares very much whether he learns it or not.” -H.L. Mencken
The American school system has failed children. Education itself is beautiful, but in practice, the agendas of educators often influence it. This plague occurs in both public and private schools. Too often, the subject is pointless, the education model is cruel, and many students end up miserable.
There is a common false assumption that if one criticizes the modern state of education, he or she is “anti-education”. On the contrary, it is the modern state of education that indeed runs against learning.
The American Education Model
If one were to observe a factory of the industrial revolution, the following things would likely occur:
- Individuals show up at a designated time and place.
- They all sit in rows where they do similar work.
- They must obey the commands of those in charge.
- These workers do not make their own innovations, but rather all stick to one plan.
- They all receive a small break for lunch.
- The outcome of their work is graded receives a very general, often-misleading grade.
Is this not how a classroom works? Students show up, sit in their assigned desks, and obey orders. Seldom do they get to think outside the box. Especially in earlier education, it is most common for every student in the school to do the same tasks and assignments as if they were all the same. Preaching diversity, American schools are soon to forget that there is intellectual diversity as well. Giving letter grades that reveal little about the student, teachers grade our children like meats in a market.
An Eerie Intention
These similarities are not an accident. The American education model is based on the “Prussian Model”, which 19th century Prussia used. Under this system, the State took control of education away from parents and churches. Of course, they did not use it to breed intelligent, free-thinking individuals. Instead, it created obedient industrial workers and soldiers; in fact, Napoleon used this very system to train his soldiers.
This system is cruel, outdated, and does not cater to the needs of the student. Education should create thinkers, not doers. The government promised the people free public schooling and the trap was set, whether intentional or not. They essentially own children in their time of prime influence. Though parents are free to teach their children what they choose in addition, they cannot opt out of certain governmental standards.
Common Core and Standards
Without a doubt, Common Core is a god that failed. Supposedly, it was to give each student an equal opportunity at success. It did this by creating government standards and a curriculum that it held each student to. Perhaps, one may think this curriculum must hold some value in order for experts to require it. Yet, federal education officials, rather than teachers themselves, were the primary creators. Teachers’ roles were, on the contrary, quite low, with only two unions invited to bring representatives to discuss Common Core.
This system is flawed for many reasons. First off, no two human brains are the same, and nobody thinks exactly the same. It is simply foolish to think every child in America must learn the same curriculum at the same pace. Albert Einstein said the following:
Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.
Is this not how schooling goes, making fish climb trees? Where the monkey may prevail, the goldfish sits behind a failure. When the fish cannot show off its swimming skills, it cannot thrive. In schools, teachers may judge musical geniuses by their ability to interpret poetry. When they do not perform well, they receive less-than-adequate class placement and struggle to move forward in class and life.
Common Core has even leaked into private schools as well, many of whom still run the curriculum. This system has kept parents out of their kids’ education. It has turned educational beauty into standardized test prep. Teachers and administrators, too, are victims in this sense, as they lose the freedom to select a curriculum.
Content in Education
Currently, much of the content in schools merely is preparing for standardized testing, and the tests themselves are a harm to students and schools alike. It is not to prepare students for the real world and give them the skills they need to achieve. Many students look at their math homework and wonder, “When will I ever use this in life?” In truth, often times they may only do so for the SAT’s and ACT’s. These can determine what college you go to, and thus your future. But why are these particular skills on two tests for the entire country? Why must complicated formulas with no real world application determine someone’s future? Unfortunately, these questions often have no answer.
Classes about managing money, the economy, law, government, raising a family, and other useful topics are often optional. On the contrary, more obscure subjects like chemistry, geometry, and physics are not. Subjects that students will often only use on a test get priority over subjects everyone will deal with in life. Students receive little personal finance education, but can sure write a geometry proof.
This is not the fault of the teachers, many truly want to make a difference in the life of a child. This is the fault of legislators in D.C. mudding the water with bureaucracy.
Major reform is essential for a turnaround of the education system. Indoctrination should not replace learning. Students who want to be lawyers should be able to pursue law, rather than polynomials. As standardized testing becomes the norm, and international test scores nonetheless fall, we face a clear shortcoming.
Ultimately, it is essential to give more educational choice to parents and, in later ages, children themselves. They must be able to pursue their dreams in a more individualized environment. The government has failed to do so. Perhaps, this is no surprise, given their track record on other blatant domestic and foreign blunders. Parents, should those who know little about your children really be in charge of their learning?
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