Out of all the evils that has sprung from Pandora’s box, hope was the cruelest of them all. “Hope is the worst of all evils because it prolongs the suffering of man,” wrote Nietzsche and was he right. Everyone has heard the phrase “I have no hope for the future” as a humourous moan, but this time I mean it. And all of society is the culprit. Now that sounds very liberal and hipster for a conservative run of the run of the mill guy, but it is true. The educational system has for years been the laughing stock of the rest of the world and rightly so. The “greatest country in the world” is slowly losing the right to claim that title. Our educational system has stifled leaders, polymaths, inventors, artists, writers and philosophers. All for a series of numbers. This is disgraceful.
The book “The Education of Henry Adams” is as relevant today as it was then. The education system has not made the upkeep of the changing world, luckily for Adams, myself and a few others who gained a proper education through a very disciplined yet dynamic autodidactic drive. Unfortunately, most people are not like that. Ask any American whether they would rather read Plato’s “Republic” or watch that night’s Ranger game or football game. I guarantee 99% of Americans would rather watch the game. We have created a society that no longer sees great conquerors, philosophers, zeitgeists and polymaths as heroes but mindnumbing singers, actors and sports stars.
Consumerism is the name, indoctrination is the game.
The problem with our educational system which is the root of this Romelike fall of the United States. It does not create writers, even in their English class they can only write within certain parameters. In art classes they are told what to paint, sculpt and draw. In music classes they are told to recite sonatas and operas but are not given the instructions to potentially write their own. History classes have been presented in a dry and dull way which skips over the drama that has been the human saga on this planet. In science classes teachers do not allow for questions, essential for scientific progress and advancement because it slows the class down for the state exam. Math forbids any exploration into new theorems and like science questions are strongly discouraged. Its joke.
Where is the dynamism, where is the ability to create, to invent and to explore? Why are we discouraged from causing waves in society? And why are the “leaders” the school tells the other students to emulate, nothing more than conservatives of the worst kind. Let me explain.
You are instructed not to question, not to create and not explore. We have one of the worst educational systems in the world, the people are becoming more stupid by the day. Everyone agrees it should change, so why doesn’t it? Because no one knows what to replace it with.
Our educational system ranks us 21st in science, 17th in reading, 1 in 4 Americans will never learn to read and as of 2011 the United States was the only OECD nation in which the current generation was less educated than the previous one.
Education is St. Peter’s keys into the heavenly bliss of success, power, and leadership. Yet our current educational system barrs us from the pearly gates of worldly salvation. We as a Constitutional Republic need an educated electorate in order for the Liberties and Rights enshrined in our Constitution to exercise with proficiency and with virtue. Education breeds the virtue in which a Republic needs to survive, which is why I disagree with some of the Conservatives in my party who believe that our educational system is “just fine” or any attempts to reform it are “tampering with the American way.”
In its present form, the American school system does not allow for questions (they have a standardized test to teach for), respectful challenging of school rules and policy (any form of dissent no matter how respectful and etiquette it is framed as “unruly”, “insubordinate” and “destructful to the learning environment”) and the ability to display curiosity outside the sert curriculum is highly discouraged and one is extorted to stop.
What to you “extorted” to stop being freelance curious students from learning new things?
One word: Grades
If student A, for example, reads a topic on botany and becomes fascinated with the world of plants and beings to read everything he can on the topic and watches all the videos he can to become an expert in this sphere. Sounds like a wonderful, even noble, venture. However, he learns quickly that he must stop, his grades have been suffering and all that knowledge of botany is quickly lost when all student A’s time is consumed to rebound those low grades.
Another student, student B, was bored and had no interest in the class he was required to take to graduate. He vowed to not waste his time, and tried to give himself a “Classical” education. So the next day he began. He decided to teach himself how to draw, a few weeks later after finishing his “masterpiece” of drawing birds extremely lifelike, he was reprimanded by the teacher to “stop doodling and pay attention.” The next month, satisfied with his art skills, he began to read the great Classical, Renaissance, and Enlightenment works. His books were taken by the teacher and received detention for “disrupting the class.” After reading all those books, and satisfied with them, he began to teach himself the basics of Latin and Greek. He was reprimanded again by the teacher to “stop doing other classes homework in my class.” After nearly 4 months of an attempted education, he gave up. Finally, the Parent/Teacher Conference in which Student B’s parents were told by his teacher that “Your son can do great work, but he doesn’t seem to be living up to his full potential.”
I feel the frustration of the reader in that last statement.
Mark Twain once said “I never let my schooling interfere with my education.” Unfortunately, how many American’s take it upon themselves to teach themselves all that is left out in school? Almost none. And this is sad, because now in the age of technology we need scientists. In the era of terrorism, we need diplomats. In the age of lost morality and new environment which questions man’s role in it all, we need philosophers. In the age of destruction we need kind souls. We desperately need all these roles and positions in society yet our education system churns out law, medical doctors, finance and engineering majors. We are a society of so much more than that, have we accepted the bare minimum?
We as the United States, have become the “leaders” of the world, yet why do we produce zombies instead of leaders. We don’t even produce humans anymore. Our system creates obedient, compliant, unquestioning pupils who will sacrifice their empathy and love for domination and lust. The qualities that make us human are crushed and even vilified. Cooperation becomes cheating; helping others without initiation is no longer done for genuine reasons but because “it looks good for college”; principles and a sense of duty are sacrificed before the altar of authority and the gospel of teachers because dissidents will fail the course; and love of expression and dignity is replaced with lust of grades and extra credit.
I have personally noticed in my own school, the lack of leadership by the so called student “leaders.” In brutally honest terms they are sellouts and the exemplification of all that is wrong with our educational system.
For example, the school I currently attend has a sort of liaison board between the various student governments and the administration. However, in recent years, the members who composed this board have lost the democratic principle of the “will of the majority.” In fact, come to think of it, they don’t really have much of “principles” or any sense of public duty for public duty’s sake.
This liaison board has bypassed the normal “constitutional” procedures and, taking after the school systems general mentality, silences dissenters even when these dissenters comprise a majority in students.
The members of this board, have become a mirror image of the mentality expressed in most teachers and administrators. The idea of representing the students interests and their own have be blurred. The members who comprise the student governments who once asked too many questions, protested the decisions of the administration verbally and openly, and refused to sacrifice their principles to the will of the establishment have been removed one by one. They are now filled not with duty driven and virtuous students but students who take the job because “it looks good on colleges” or “makes others respect them more.”
This is no reason to serve public office.
Now that is a lot of “liberal”, “hippie” and “socialist” rhetoric for a Republican but the truth transcends man’s socially constructed barriers to understanding.
Our nation is doomed no matter what we do unless we fix our educational system to reflect the dignity and capability of man’s naturally selected intelligence. This new system must remove the idea of grades as even an accurate measurement of one’s intelligence. But most importantly the culture and mores of the educational system must alter dramatically. The idea of questioning everything, respectful dissent, pursuit of one’s curiosity MUST be upheld and protected, for it created virtuous and intelligent citizens which our ailing Republic so desperately needs. If we refuse to change then any hope of a wonderful utopic world will be shattered in the New World. And we will only repeat this failed experiment on another planet, provided we don’t kill ourselves first.
Now my call will most likely go unheard, my essay will be rejected and my ideas will be exaggerated to the point of radical misinterpretation. But nonetheless, hundred of years will go by and my words, my pleas and my ideas will be exonerated by historians. One day. Let us work for and pray that this one day is today.