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The Horrors of Public Education
montalk.net » 28 June 04
Most students will agree, and many have voiced their disgust concerning this abomination we call public education. They spite the good students who obey like little sheep, frown at imposed conformity, and laugh at the hypocritical nature of the system.
The same will be done here, but there is a big difference between these defiant students and me, the author. I was one of those good little sheep. I graduated high school with a 4.0, perfect attendance record, two years of student council under my belt, and a host of top scholarships to get me through college. Teachers loved me, students both feared and respected me, and the principal knew me better than I knew him.
It’s enough to make you sick. I know it made me sick. So here I am, biting the hand that feeds because it’s been feeding nothing but propaganda and sour grapes.
I’m not writing this article because of envy or spite against system-indoctrinated valedictorians, nor am I trying to put blame on my school for all my academic failures. In fact, I cannot because I was that valedictorian and had few if any academic failures.
I’m writing this article because the system itself is messed up. Having been to many different public school systems over the past 15 years, I have more than adequate credibility to make this claim.
What is taught is random, useless, and meaningless
In class, too much time is wasted on useless topics. The quality of education has been sacrificed for quantity, and as a result, academic inflation and the devaluation of information has turned intellectual ambition into apathy and bright minds into gray mush.
In an effort to be multicultural and eclectic, class curricula have become shallow and disorganized in their effort to teach students a global viewpoint. Topics are taught piecemeal, and never do teachers spend time to help students integrate the pieces into a coherent picture that can be used or built upon. And even if within a class the ideas are put together, between classes the grand education still remains compartmentalized.
For example, both geometry and physics can be mastered by the average student, but the connection and communication between the two often are not. When physics is taught in a junior high or high school physics class, it involves only the most elementary of geometry concepts, and vice versa. Without synthesis of the two, each remains without purpose or effectiveness.
Such synthesis between topics is neglected in the school curriculum, and consequently one’s experience in the public education system becomes a vague memory of random, meaningless, and useless facts, just as a disassembled engine is just a junk heap of random metal parts.
Most school subjects themselves aren’t even real knowledge. History books are full of purposely engineered inaccuracies and distortions for the sake of corporate gain and political correctness.
Much of school is wasted time
The purpose of education is to make one an independent, competent thinker, one who can make a difference in the world for the better, and one who has the best chance for survival and success in the world.
So what the hell are we doing with such profundity of pep rallies, football and basketball games, proms, crazy hair days, sex education, death education, quiz bowls, and student council meetings?
Sure, without them, school would be dull. But, school is supposed to be an incubator of young humans to prepare them for excitement in the real world. School is doing more than it’s supposed to and has instead become a surrogate provider of such excitement, turning it artificial and socially harmful. Is your vacuum cleaner also supposed to do the dishes, trim your hair, balance your checkbook, and be your friday night date?
So much in school concerns extracurricular activities that time which could be spent on real world activities is instead being wasted in these trivialities. The effect is the amassing of students dependent upon the system and isolated from the real world. Social, financial, and academic dysfunction result. Once again, quantity over quality has prevailed, because there is no profit for the supplier in quality. Quality only helps those in the demand, but when consumers of education have themselves been dumbed down to primal levels, discernment and appreciation of quality disappear.
Despite these problems, almost everyone is happy.
Parents are happy. Moms get to watch their soap operas and dads get to work while their kids are being babysat. They don’t have to worry about teaching morality or ethics to their children because it’s being done for them in school. They don’t have to entertain them or spend genuine time with them because these children are too busy being entertained in school functions. Moms just have to drive their girls to soccer practice, and dads toss the football a few times. Perfectionist parents keep their child competitive not by guiding them and helping them on a daily basis, but by yelling them once a school quarter when report cards come out.
Teachers are happy, as they have a secure job from 8 to 5, and the more they work, the more they get paid. The more school programs there are with federal or state funding, the more money they get. The more schools have the programs, the more funding and perks they receive from federal benefactors.
Everyone is happy, that is, except for the students. But who cares? Who are they to complain? Those with the gold make the rules, and all students have is some pocket change for cookies and milk.
As is well known, in school, you spend more time learning how to obey and what to think, instead of and how to think and think for yourself. Fact of the matter is that at least 3/4 of the time spent in school is waste.
Students are not at fault
But that’s not the worst part. The worst part is that public schools not only have a crappy curriculum, they actually oppress their students by forcing them to participate in it. It is one thing to offer a profundity of shallow assignments, and quite another to make students do them.
Simply put, students are forcefully occupied with junk to prevent them from learning something useful.
Almost everything important I have learned, I learned on my own time outside school. During junior high, the assignments given to me were few, and I often completed them in class. This left me with enough time to go to the library to begin my study of metaphysics and the paranormal, to learn truth on my own and experiment with what I had learned to confirm the nature of absolute truth.
But as I progressed through high school, increasingly useless assignments were given to me which taught me nothing (and believe me, I searched for something useful in them), but occupied my time nonetheless. What was being taught to me was compartmentalized, full of holes and errors, shallow, and politically correct to the point of nonsense. Was it my duty to integrate the parts and learn the material well enough to be applied? Sure, but the sheer quantity of homework prevented me from finding time to do just that. Quantity over quality once again.
Now I am in a state college, and it’s no different. The oppression continues, except now I’m getting wiser and have caught onto their tricky scheme to graduate robots instead of humans.
I wish I had more time to do research related to this site, to learn true physics and history, to continue writing music, and make a difference. But this time is erroded by the wasteful components of the school curriculum.
Students, except for a few genuine slackers, are not at fault when lagging in critical thinking skills. They are not being held back by their own laziness, but by direct oppression from a system with the power to punish them or put a bad mark on their transcripts if they don’t give up their individual pursuits of knowledge in favor of hollow schoolwork.
Overloading creates dysfunction
There are multiple consequences to this program of quantity over quality. Children are under a lot of stress nowadays in schools due to this, and as a consequence they shift into a survival mode.
This survival mode consists of taking shortcuts and getting by with the least amount of effort possible, but even this small amount of effort is too much and applied toward futile ends. Grades become an ends to a means, and the true goal of education is detached from daily work. Studying is only applied toward taking the test, but not for retention thereafter. Escapism takes hold and watching television, taking drugs, engaging in delinquent behavior, and over-socialization result. This further detracts a student from learning what’s truly needed.
Under such stress, the student body splits into two groups: those who conform and those who fail.
The ones who conform learn the rules of the game, no matter how illogical they are and play the game to the satisfaction of faculty. They become detached from reality, from what truly matters, and are stifled in their potential as they are stripped of their inspiration, creativity, and originality. Quantity over quality matters as part of the survival mode, and there is no profit in overdoing quality when the profits of doing so are decades away in the reaping. Due to this survival mentality, thinking that far into the future is neglected. The ones who conform become roboticized and are respected for how well they fit the mold. What was once innate curiosity to discover the world is turned into neurotic attempts to escape punishment.
The ones who do not conform fall behind unless they are clever enough to find another source of education that befits them. Their grades are mediocre as they are disillusioned with the system and no longer care about pleasing it. Chances of graduation and pursuing higher education is slim, and most of these either drop out or graduate and immediately acquire low paying jobs. The price of refusal to conform is rejection into substandard wage earning.
Either way, those entering public education leave either as robots or peasants, hyperbolically speaking.
The system itself
Teachers are not to blame either. They are like soldiers in the trenches fighting a war to educate the public, taking orders from their superiors who have no idea what the current conditions are on the front lines.
Teachers are overstressed, underpaid, and restricted in their ability to respond to what they perceive in the classroom. Due to political correctness, threat of legal action by parents, and contrite school boards scared of disapproval by a vocal minority with big political clout, teachers are confined to a tight curriculum they are forced to follow.
They are forced to teach some things, and not allowed to teach others, such guidelines set by a panel of nodding puppets with no clue as to what the truth is, let alone initiative to spread it should they know the truth. These puppets are those who design the school curriculum, who despite once being teachers themselves, are for the majority removed from the classroom feedback mechanism.
It’s the little things that contribute to an oppressive atmosphere in schools. Not withstanding the social atmosphere, teachers on a strained school budget worry about saving paper, staples, or tape. When my high school received thousands of dollars of funding from the community, it used that money to expand its inventory of computers that weren’t even needed just to keep up with the politically correct trend for schools to be technologically current. That money should have been used for the little things, such as office supplies.
Disruptive students are put in the same class with well behaving ones, creating academic socialism whereby equality is maintained by dragging up the idiots at the expense of the smart ones. Separating students on the wrong criteria leads to incongruities and a breakdown of the system and its components. Putting them into grades by age, when they should be instead separated by level of knowledge and skill, results in academic entropy whereby the smart become dumb and the dumb learn how to waste other’s time.
Teachers spend more of this time teaching children how to shut up and sit still than to pay attention and think. Because they are very limited in their methods of discipline, teachers and students suffer as the idiotic and delinquent minority ruins it all for the rest.
Friction within the system from misplacement of resources induces hatred among its components, as each is suffering and blaming one another instead of blaming the system itself. In fact, the system is set up such that the components feed off one another in a long term downward spiral.
Teachers have contempt for the students, and often make an effort to take out aggression upon them, seeing them as the enemy and cause of their own stress. Students see authority as something to be defied, unless they are already broken by it. Teachers make up illogical rules to test how well students obey, such as making them walk a certain way through the library, or not enter or leave certain exits at certain times, and other minor things which irritate students and allow faculty to feel good when they exert their powers. This tension between student and teacher shatters trust between them, and any teaching and learning between them enters the domain of negative reinforcement. Instead of them loving and respecting one another, they hate each other but do what they are supposed to, to avoid consequences if they do otherwise.
When you see a student, what you’re really seeing is someone low on ambition and initiative, but starving for recognition and self-esteem. This is a symptom of a system that is anti-life, anti-individualism, and anti-spirit. Compressing a wonderful human into a precise block to fit perfectly into cubicle induces the survival mode of life. Knowledge, having been made into the source of his distress, is put at the bottom of his list of priorities, as he has to do whatever is possible to regain his self esteem, recognition, and peace of mind. However, he must do so within the confines of the system.
Dysfunction results. Instead of individualism meaning thinking for oneself and seeking one’s own truth and sense of morality, individualism becomes wearing freaky clothing, having funny hair, and garnering attention via infantile vulgarity no matter if it is for fame or infamy. These superficial methods are all that are still legal within the system. The true human spirit, however, is suppressed.
Those who are broken follow the teacher’s illogical rules and learn to trust authority over their own potentials. In this, they become a cog in the wheel. Breaking orders is taboo to them, something they get very nervous about when it happens, and they certainly don’t do it willingly. They become neurotics and unstable perfectionists who stand high on shaky foundations.
Once their individuality is broken, they become robots very good at their tasks. Many go on to college, absorb what’s fed to them well, and become academicians with a groovy little niche and nice income in their fields of research. But however wonderful that sounds, they are robots and nothing more. Or to make another analogy, they are cows.
They don’t know that being the best cow still doesn’t make you a cowboy.
The straight track
We hear stories of entrepreneurs who strike it rich after dropping out of college and pursuing their dreams. We hear stories of those who go from rags to riches, of those who defied convention and revolutionized the world.
But what do we hear in school? We hear that these people are the exception not the rule. That is certainly true, but what the system is implying is that you are the rule, not the exception, so don’t even try to deviate from the straight track.
The straight track is what students are being taught by the system, concerning the course of their lives. The straight track told to high school students goes as follows:
You need to do your assignment to get a good grade. When you get good grades, your transcript will be favored by employers and colleges. You might even get scholarships to go to a good college. If you’re good in college, you’ll get a degree and have good chances of getting a good job. And with a good job you’ll have a good wife, good kids, and a good life.
What they’re really saying is this:
Don’t worry about changing the world, just concentrate on getting good grades because that is the only measure of what you’re worth in the eyes of those you’ll serve. Go to college and find your quiet niche in the world, where you’ll be secure in your job because you’re so specialized, there’s no one else in the world who can take your place. You’ll be working to maintain the system as you’re seen fit. Focus all your energy into this specialized area and don’t worry about making an impact on the world because as long as you stay specialized and compartmentalized, we’ll clothe you, feed you, give you a good family, and bury you in a good plot of land.
Deviating from the track is abhorred by the system. If you show initiative and take risks, you become a statistical outlier, an anomaly in their statistical models, someone who poses a threat to the system because you are a seed with the potential to overturn the mirrors and reveal the truth behind this silent war.
In this lies the point of the article. You cannot be successful, recognized, or a true human being unless you defy the system. If you only do what you’re told, you’ll be no better than average.
The system has been designed by the biggest corporation of all, the state. Public schools either turn out worker drones who serve the state and its partnering greedy corporations, or else they turn out welfare recipients who are an excuse for the state to maintain its colossal parasitic size and an idiotic consumer base to buy these corporations useless toys and poisons.
So many students are under this illusion, the illusion being that they either follow the straight track, try to be the best cow in the herd to maintain financial and social security, or else defy the system and fail miserably, ending up as a bum on the street.
You are seen as a social failure if you defy the system. If you measure your success by what the system deems is successful, then you fear deviating from the straight track because that is a sign of failure.
However, you must therefore redesign your standards of success. Would dropping out of a state college make you a failure? In the eyes of other cows, maybe, but pursuing a better education elsewhere be it independently or real world experience would more than make up for it.
How many famous people do you know who did everything they were told and nothing more, who never took risks for fear of defying the status quo? Not very many.
The lesson is that not only must you take risks and utilize your innate initiative, you must also get over your fear of defying the system and do so to get ahead of the herd. You are the exception, not the rule, because you have the power to be.
Now, the robots in the system are definitely needed. We still need employees, soldiers, and scientists who are specialized in what they do, but presently there is an overabundance among these. Therefore, the emergence of individualists, generalists, and entrepreneurs is encouraged.
And the only way for them to increase in numbers is for people like you to break out of the mold and fulfill your destiny as a human, not a machine.
“Devotion to the truth is the hallmark of morality; there is no greater, nobler, more heroic form of devotion than the act of a man who assumes the responsibility of thinking.” - Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged
Oh My! I wish this were posted on another forum I belong to It's perfect for a certain back and forth I've been in the middle of, regarding the "failure" of the American Public School System and how it ties directly to the whole "Dumbing Down of America" theory. But then one side of my view centers on the idea of reinstating actual consequence for those extending poor behavior... in other words, putting the board back into education. (It's always amazed me how well a good swat on the rump jars the "brain" of the average testosterone driven male teen and gets it to function along a more positive track... just like repairing so many things with a good thump or hammer )
But the whole "Discipline" aspects when it comes to the system's short-comings also lays in the hands of the parent(s), most of whom are so over-worked and under-paid these days they simply are too numb to get involved in the manner parents of 30 or 40 years ago did. But this is a deliberate situation brought about as the result of general greed; not just the greed perpetuated by the employers of these folks but their greed as well... their false sense of "needing" that over-sized phallus symbol to drive down the freeway even though it's not in the least practical nor a requirement to your living/working situation, just an ego fix... a selfish possession that IS hurting your family as well as the planet. But hey! This is the "Do As Thou Wilts" world of the Western Industrial Complex.
35+ years ago the average family did well and even had "free capitol" based on a single adult income. But this was also the latter part of the threshold point, when the business & political fronts were deliberately paving the way for a culture that would require mums & dad to work exceptionally long hours and in some instances, more than two "full-time" jobs just to make ends meet let alone having the two cars, boat, camper, etc. and free time to enjoy them on a weekly if not daily basis prior to said point. Corporations like Wal*Mart the "family friendly" "All American" store doing just about everything they can to keep couples apart if they are employees (or as those good ole southern boys would say, "Property"). This particular sort of situation is one of the reasons I can't help but laugh during political rallies in which Family Values are constantly being chanted, knowing that so few of those involved in politics and especially the lobbyists behind the politics give a damn about the American family or America for that matter (why else would they betray our citizens when it come to employment in exchange for outsourcing?)
"Sigh" Pardon, but this is something that gets me worked up, it's such an enveloping thing
I saw very little to justify this statement. The post was demagogic statement.
I did a quick scan over the post and saw very little to justify most f what was said. This long winded statement certainly does not apply to the area where I live. I live on what has been described as the island. Our schools are excellent, but the neighboring schools are not. Walk a short way and you fall a long way.
The difference that I see is not the schools, the teachers, the resources, or the curriculum. It is the parents. Where I live the parents respect and promote education. That is not the case a little distance from here.
I know what my kids do in school. I know the topics they are studying. I am never surprised by their report cards. I know enough to accurately guess their grades before they arrive.
Scimitars were not available - beware January 19, 2038 is upon us.
You will find that what you say here holds true in those "3rd World Nations" presently kicking the U.S. butt when it comes to scholastics. Sri Lanka is an excellent example of a complete culture dedicated to education; parents willing to do whatever it takes to get their children the best possible education because it is the only way to bring direct benefit to their nation... which is what we are failing at here. But it's not entirely the parents that are at fault, though I can't excuse them completely.
Firstly, and I know this first hand, most school systems loathe having Parents that really do get involved with their child's welfare... unless you are a parent with deep pockets and/or social clout, but that's an entirely different issue. The fact is, teachers fear too much parental attention because it will require them to actually do their job PROPERLY, and when you have teachers that can't pass the very same tests they are giving their students... guess what???
Staying focused on the Parental element though, there are some outside influences that have crept back into society over the past 35 or so years that literally tie their hands.
Most every child of the 50's & 60s knew the suburbia "Nuclear Family" life in which Dad went to work, mom was a HOUSE WIFE and Mother who stayed at home (other than those weekly luncheons with the girls or relief society meetings, etc.) The point is, one of the primary parents was always present... at least in 80%+ of all homes. The family could survive and do more than fair living off of one adult wage for the most part, be it white or blue collar. Too, schedules were such that the working parent/father actually was home by 6ish so a planned and regular evening meal AROUND A TABLE was part of life; an anchor that could be counted on and the opportunity for everyone to discuss their day... of course, if it were an ideal setting such conversations would be uncensored and open to all modes of discussion but given the era, that was rarely the case.
As we moved into the latter 60s however ERA became a major social movement with more and more women stepping out of the Spamalamadingdong and into the work force. Not just the office of hair salon but in construction, transportation and other "male" fields. I cannot say that such action was "wrong" completely, only that it wasn't weighed as well as it should have been and because of that, big business sought a way to exploit it. Which brings us into the mid and late 80's aftermath and how, by this point in time, society had shifted to an economic circumstance in which 90% of all adult couples require both partners to work at least one full time job each just to keep your head above water. While there are other factors one must include when looking at this reality, we are still forced to digest the fact that Big Business along side how it manipulated the government and general economic status within the country, created the biggest single wedge segregating the family unit -- the requirement of most all lower and middle-income families for dual adult income... and that's just to maintain and live "normal" -- a reasonably comfortable life. But this act of trespass goes much deeper...
TIME has been usurped by the companies & industries we each work in, costing us more time away from home and the over-all family unit which in turn results in children not feeling supported and too, not having the kind of guidance and nurturing they require. Especially given how, as we (the US) geared up for WWII, we forgot our agricultural roots. Granted, shifting away from rural life and the farm began with the Civil War and the start of the Industrial Age but more specifically, the promise (hope) city life gave to the newly migrated as well as born citizen, to thrive and actually have a social life...something to do with the new sense of leisure time "Invention" was giving to them. But, we didn't see what we were trading off in order to gain such conveniences.... Family!
Sadly I can't recall the title of a wonderful little book on this family topic I happened onto whilst in Branson some years back... I believe it was called "The Granny Woman"... while about the midwife tradition it likewise speaks on the multi-generational home.
"Sigh" Change happens but we forget that progress always requires us to pay a price; always, something precious.
Our school system has a large influx of parents through a number of programs. Sports and plays is not considered here. The elementary schools have parent aides in the classrooms. We have an active PTA. Parents are encouraged to assist with lesson plans by doing short presentations.
Scimitars were not available - beware January 19, 2038 is upon us.
What is also interesting is to see that immigrant groups tend to outpace the absorbed American population in intellectual contests such as math, spelling, and geography contests. After a generation or so the impact of the immigrants subsides and a new population excels.
Scimitars were not available - beware January 19, 2038 is upon us.
Be careful, you're sounding like a Conspiracy theorist...
The Hispanic Community has, to their merit, started to step up to the plate when it comes to improving their position within the global society by way of their American advantage. Though I may not like some of this on one level, I applaud them for finally getting involved rather than allowing their children to overburden the system. But we do have one problem when it comes to the situation you describe; parents getting involved, the PTA, etc.
The Religious Right has quite deliberately sought to use organizations like the PTA, etc. as a way to manipulate circumstance, curriculum, and more! It goes back the the classic "Let us have your children for the first five years of their lives and they will belong to the church for eternity"... but hey, it's tough to beat a classic and this one worked well into the Victorian age.
Getting ALL Parents involved and allowing the "minority" to have a genuine voice -- I know of Pagan families that have been shut-out when it comes to such groups as well as gay couples... even Mormon & Buddhist families have been harshly censored or omitted when it comes to school related do's & don'ts. So that's where I have a degree of discomfort with what you describe. It may not be that way in your community but it is that way throughout much of the "Heart land" (as they call it... it's a blackened, icy cold heart filled with bias however).
The real problem is that America isn't in step with what is working in the rest of the world... especially when it comes to inclusion of Montessori techniques that have been proven by time and extensive application world wide, to be far more effective than what we have insisted on keeping in place for decades... ignoring how skill set ability is in decline for most kids... it's a sad, sad thing.
I realize that I do live in particularly well set up education system. That is why I live here. My kids went to Montessori schools before entering the public system. Parents can definitely be a problem. On the other hand, a parentless school is one in which the parents are not pushing their kids to excel. Like everything its a balancing act.
One of the interesting issues with our school is that it is an open school. It is architecturally open. There are book cases that divide teaching areas. It is noisy. What is fascinating is that this school also has the highest SOL scores. That's about the only way to compare schools I guess - by testing. This has been true for years and years. Part of the education is surmised to be the kids learning to focus in a noisy environment.
Scimitars were not available - beware January 19, 2038 is upon us.
I have no children so my personal, vested interest does not lie very deep in this subject. Seems to me that most of the teachers who are smarter than your average teacher won't do it for long, thanks in large part to their pay. Perhaps that was all part of the master "dumbing down" plan (I haven't read the book). It takes a special person to go into some school system, deal with kids whose parents don't want to deal with them, take home $30k a year, and then really care about teaching these kids something. Definitely an interesting topic, but not one I'll be able to contribute to.
You nailed it ProfWag. I had often wondered why the pay scale for teachers was so low. The only incentive to take that job is summers off.
You struck a nerve on that line...
One of the "trends" we have in our world today are young ladies that are in love with the idea of having a baby. The problem is, they look at babies in the same way they would a puppy of kitten... once the thing starts getting big and requiring focused attention the thrill is gone and its time to poop out another life form...
I say this not just due to situation as a whole but because my ex and I had to deal with it first hand with our foster daughter... she was about ready to pop out the third baby but wanted to move out to where we were in Ohio... the odd thing we noticed was that the 4 year old nor the 3 year old were talking... they thought "food" was Pop Tarts and anything else you could find at a 7-11 in the microwave meal section.
It was a situation Marcy and I both were disgusted by and thus, set our minds toward making these lads learn how to function a bit and what real food was like.
It didn't take long... about two weeks with the oldest one, but he started using words and saying sentences... he was a fast learner but that was the only thing that would save him at this point. He was at least two to three years behind most kids his age.
Once we finally convinced him that it was ok to eat something fixed on a stove, he fell in love with what real food tasted like and how it made him feel... to the point as asking for a carrot vs. candy... a huge leap for a kid raised in a trailer trash environment.
The kicker to all of this is that the parents didn't see where it was their job to teach their children how to talk, etc. because that's what schools are for... (I'm not kidding, that is exactly what both of them said)
I really think we need to start requiring anyone over 15 to go to a kind of boot camp every summer break, where they learn about life, being a parent and general obligations/responsibilities. They aren't learning it in school or at home, so let the government train them and give them a permit that says they are legally capable of being a parent.
Again, with no children of my own I have little interest, but I have seen first hand that many parents really and truly do not want the responsibility. They like having other people go googie-eyed over their younguns, but don't want to take the time to teach them morals and other things that parents should be teaching.
From my personal observations, I will disagree with your statement that some parents don't want to take the time to teach their kids morals and other things. They most certainly teach them morals, ethics and life skills. It is unfortunate that what they are being taught are, to be self centered, egotistic, uncaring and downright rude.
Thanks for That
And don't forget they are being taught to "wear their pants on the ground!"
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