FlickrFacebookRSS Feed

Reform School?

The acknowledged genius of education is a man named Alfred North Whitehead. He said the purpose of an education is to teach people the art of providing for themselves. Who couldn’t agree with that!

That’s NOT what we do. Seems the teacher’s union is given the order by the other unions to “teach those kids anything you want except what WE do for a living — we don’t want the competition.” Not much left to teach after that. Our kids grow up not knowing how to cultivate food, wire the simplest electrical switch, fix a machine, balance a budget, diagnose illness or eat right. They learn nothing of civics, nothing of the laws they will be subject to. We can do better than this.

We spend about the same as every state on education, about $10,000 per student per year. That’s $300,000 per average classroom. Figure $60,000 for the teacher, $10,000 for building costs and books. Who gets the remaining $230,000? Considering that more than half our tax money goes to schools couldn’t we figure out something that works better for a lot less money?

My suggestion is to not reinvent the wheel, but simply return to the one-room schoolhouse, K thru 12 in one place. “Once taught, twice learned” is an axiom. Older students who have just learned the subject help teach it to younger ones, and in doing so they come to master it themselves. They also form bonds of mentoring, of caring for each other instead of being in separate competitive tribes, enemies, learning to bully. The few remaining one-room schools in America, mostly in Nebraska, consistently outscore the finest prep schools on SATs. And why have buses when kids could just walk a block or few?

The two articles linked here tell much of what is wrong with our present system. We must improve it. The giant facilities we’ve built could be turned into community centers, child care centers, where any child could be dropped off anytime and be safe and have fun, and any adult could come to volunteer to watch and protect them. And maybe play a little basketball, or learn how to grow their own food, or share what they know with others. It does take a village to raise a child. We have everything in place we need to do that.

Against School: How Public Education Cripples Our Kids, and Why. By John Taylor Gatto.
Schools and the Pedagogy of Punishment. By Henry A. Giroux.