Many of you know that I am a teacher at the DaVinci Academy of the Sciences and the Arts. I have recently become extremely interested in the quality of education received at the public school level. Looking back on my own experience in the system, mine was mediocre at best. As many of us have or will have children, I think it’s an important issue to discuss. I strive to open the discussion about this issue through the medium of the blog and hope that it becomes something worthwhile.
Many of these insights and revelations come due to my reading of two books by John Taylor Gatto: Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Education and The Underground History of American Education: An Intimate Investigation into the Prison of Modern School. You probably get some good hints about what these books theorize and treat by the titles.
I want to open this discussion about how the school system affects children with three assumptions, which, by design, are heavily influence by my personal beliefs as a disciple of Jesus Christ. The assumptions are:
1) Everyone, especially children, is natural curious about the world around them and the world within them. We have an innate yearning to learn and gain knowledge.
2) Everyone inherently desires and strives to do what is right and good. We want to help, nurture, bless and lift others.
3) One of the adversary’s great tasks in leading to misery and captivity lies in extinguishing and smothering those two intuitive, even instinctive, longings.
If those assumptions are true (and I strongly believe they are), one might conclude that Satan has found his way into our public school system. He may have even desired its creation. Here are the reasons I find that both possible and terrifying as I look around the school in which I teach (please don’t necessarily apply this to your child, this is just what I see and I want opinions and voices, even arguments).
· Children are insanely bored with school. They have no desire to learn about anything trying to be taught therein except what they need to pass the class and not incur their parents’ wrath. They are apathetic with regards to acquiring knowledge. They neither know nor do they care about the world around themselves or within themselves.
· Children who are unable to think deeply or critically. They can’t even concentrate on anything for very long. Their knowledge is all superficial and factual without any reference to its importance or practical application. History is a series of dates, sciences a collection of elements, math a smattering of formulas, English a set of rules and everything else a waste of time.
· Children (and teachers) who are cruel and ruthless with friend and foe alike. With friends, their cruelty is passed as a joke with the idea that that’s how they display their friendship. With foe, the berating and belittling is met with little interference by the school and sends many children home crying and sometimes suicidal. No, I don’t think I’m exaggerating there.
· Children with no principles or virtues. Work is the great abhorrence of the generation. Materialism surrounds their lives. They indulge in television, movies, music, computer and video games, drugs, pornography, premarital sex, alcohol and general waste trying to make up for the loneliness and misery accompanying their lives. Eighth graders at my school have asked repeatedly for condoms. Eighth graders.
· Children with no personality, who don’t really know who they are or from where they’ve come. Their friends, with whom they spend the majority of the day, define their life. They are devoid of meaningful family relationships
· Finally, children who are completely dependent on their teachers intellectually and emotionally. They wait for their teacher to tell them what to do and then regurgitate the information on a test for which they hope to receive the praise of the teacher and avoid a stern look or conversation.
These facts remind me of my life during most levels of schooling and I witness it happened everyday at school. Maybe I’m just cued into it. Maybe I’m overemphasizing some point. Maybe I’m just plain wrong. But it’s no secret that our schools aren’t producing much of anything that could be identified as extraordinary or innovative. We’re cloning the minds of the youth with our state-mandated curriculums. We leaving them bereft of goodness and wisdom. We’re churning out the next set of corporate slaves, unable to work for themselves or be very creative, inevitably leading them to overconsumption and materialism and often debt. Are we satisfied with school? This is supposed to the greatest generation to inherit the earth. This generation is supposed to DO something. I heard that my whole life.
We’ve got missionaries coming home early and often dishonorably at astonishing rates. They are numerous young men and women having children in their teens, to whom they give inadequate attention. That’s maybe the worst of the worst but is our adult population continuing the tradition of our Founding Fathers? A tradition of production, innovation, deep pondering and capability of revolution against tyranny and oppression? Or are we just living our lives not doing anything important or special, wondering what’s going to happen on our favorite TV show or how we’re going to buy whatever new toy there is? Is this what we’ve become? I pray it is not. I want your thoughts and insights.