Mar. 9, 2014

Broken system

"Our current education system is broken". How many times do we need to hear this?  One needs only to look back in the past 20 years to see that this question has been posed time and again since the "great awakening" of the youth in the 1970's. It is obvious that un-motivated youngsters will use any excuse to remain in that "what-me-worry" state and of course, a large part of the blame falls on those of us who allowed it to proliferate. Remembering back, I cannot recall NOT being required by my parents to produce positive resuts in school or suffer the consequences of restriction, no bicycle etc. Instead, our generation discovered that both parents working and working longer hours translated into the accumulation of more assets, and afterall, "stuff" in the eyes of our peers, equalled success. We all wanted to "keep up with the Jones' " or better yet, surpass them.  In the meantime, rather than spending time with our children, we proved our love by buying them "stuff", protected them from over-bearing school disciplinarians, and often used the legal system to sort out problems that we didn't want to take the time to sort out. We only need to look at a current case now in court, where a youngster is suing her parents, to grasp the extent this attitude has gone. In the 80's I wrote a letter to the editor of our local newspaper suggesting that uniforms were one way to help reduce the number of "cliques" based on status that formed in middle and high schools, as well as a way to improve discipline. That idea was shot down as "suppressing individual expression"....and the chaos and decrease in discipline within the schools continued. Having taught high school in 1970, I could readily see the changes. I even suggested that the local school board sit in on classes unannounced (or as a substitute teacher), but no, none could take out the time from their busy schedules. The end result is what we see now, apathy and a sense of entitlement, "afterall, you gave me an I-phone ( or X-box babysitter) when I was 8, why can't I have a new laptop, car etc. now ? " A couple of generations with this attitude is not going to be easy to fix, so maybe we should consider correcting our current education approach so as to improve the chances of future generations. What we need now are ideas to improve the education system, not just throw more money at a failing system. A voucher system to encourage healthy competion between schooling techniques just might be part of the answer. After a few years, it would be easy to see what teaching methods/approaches would really work.