Tuesday, October 19, 2010

School is not for everyone

A young person I know very well told another adult the other day that not everyone is made for school. The young man was trying to explain why he doesn’t want to be confined to the rigors of schooling when his goal in life is to be an artist. He has a valid argument but not for the reasons he believes.

The American Public School System, which at one time was hailed as the greatest achievement in the industrialized world, is a farce. It has been devalued and regimented to the point of uselessness in this modern technological era we live in. Teachers are forced to be more concerned about job security, thus restricting from them the freedom to truly educate the youth that comes into their classrooms. Administrators, politicians and other bureaucrats are more concerned about test scores rather than the quality of the education the children receive.

Some people do well on standardized tests, others don’t. However, that does not mean that the good test-takers are any more knowledgeable about the subject matter than those who don’t perform well. Some children are not given all the tools to succeed, we know this all too well, but the pressure that is put on some of them to perform at an early age based on a test-taking strategy is ludicrous and counter-productive to establishing a free society.

Whatever happened to the concept of enlightenment? That is what education is supposed to be about. You, as a human being, are suppose to be taught things, not to pass a test, but for your self-edification. Your exposure to the arts, introduction of new languages and cultures, the application of mathematics and sciences are meant to be stimulating, not a chore to master. The joy of communicating effectively, meaning fluency in reading, writing and speaking your native language, is lost in the statistical urgency of diminishing prison beds and poverty rolls.

It is time to go back to basics. It is time teach once again, not to satisfy a global industrial complex, but to make sure the wonders of the universe and civilization are challenging yet exciting again. How is it that we live in the greatest country in the world and the majority of our children cannot identify it on a map of the world? Because we have lost sight of our mission in life: to achieve enlightenment.

Back in colonial days, blacksmiths had a diploma, so that means that enlightenment did not take you away from manual labor jobs. It does mean however that you are a more complete being, in other words, more representative of what God created. That is what we have to go back to.
Some of our greatest intellectuals came from one room schoolhouses, so infrastructure improvement is not the panacea, nor is barrels full of public dollars. It is about a true commitment to excellent enlightenment for our country and our world.

Thomas Jefferson believed that by the time a child was ten years old, he or she should be able to master reading, writing, public speaking, all forms of mathematics and science, a foreign language and have an educated appreciation for the arts. With the tools we have now at our disposal, it should be easier to achieve than say in the 19th Century when Jefferson expressed these thoughts. Instead of following the example of prodigies like Jefferson, we have modeled our education system to appease the industrialists like George Pullman, who believed the public schools in America should be designed to train future workers, not visionaries.

I have always made the argument in my public speeches about education that our system now trains children to follow the blocks instead of questioning should they be better arranged. A horse may need blinders to go forward, but humans need to maximize their peripheral vision. An education system grounded on the premise of human enlightenment is the key.

So no, school the way it is set up is not for everyone. It crushes free will and diminishes individual worth. A school that values human enlightenment is a school that is made for everybody.