Our kids are in CRISIS.
I work with teenagers in an affluent suburban area.
They don’t comprehend what they read. They use calculators to multiply 10 x 10. The average high school junior has no clue what the word “diligent” means. They write essays resembling those of a 5th grader.
In tests administered in reading, science and math to 15 year-olds globally, we are behind TWENTY NINE countries in math. And our kids’ performance in reading and science is not much better. And yet, American investment in education is unrivaled, globally.
Are you scared yet?
We lead the world in the consumption of illegal recreational drugs. And one of the chief sales outlets?
Our teenage suicide rate is the highest in the world.
EVERY DAY there are over 5,400 suicide attempts by kids in grades 7 – 12.
NOW are you scared?
The two places teenagers spend most of their time are online, and in school. The internet is cracking our world wide open, and in its relatively nascent state, we haven’t yet found ways to effectively police what goes on in the cyber community. New ways to distract and distort teenage minds are invented online EVERY day.
WE MUST CHANGE WHAT GOES ON IN OUR SCHOOLS.
At a time when our education budgets are unprecedented, why are kids so disinterested in school?
There’s a frightening disconnect between our tax dollars and the quality of our kids’ education.
Students are pushed through an uncaring system with no substantial improvement in classroom resources. We’re paying for pensions and health benefits that we just can’t afford. We’re funding exorbitant salaries for superintendents who lease luxury cars on our tax dollars while our kids’ brains are ATROPHYING IN THE GODDAMN CLASSROOM.
And when the money does make its way to the students, where does it go?
Let’s talk high school athletics.
People pro sports argue that school athletics provide exercise, support team spirit and keep students engaged in the classroom. But we are obsessive about high school sports to the detriment of academics.
Statistics vary. Some show that we spend quadruple the amount on sports than we do on academics. I personally would argue that the money spent on high school sports is TEN TIMES that of the math department. The hidden costs of high school sports is a dirty little secret.
Football is by far the most expensive high-school sport. In my lily white, soft suburban area, these kids have about as much chance of playing for the NFL as I do of spontaneously regaining my virginity.
So why is all this money going to FOOTBALL?
And how many millions of dollars have gone to implement the Common Core – or, the Death of Learning, as I affectionately refer to it?
Common Core shoves infuriating math down the throats of overwhelmed students, forcing them to learn the least efficient ways of solving basic problems. The Common Core is indoctrination at its worst, a pedagogical succubus that has effectively obliterated all parental control of what is being taught.
The slogan of the Common Core? “College and career readiness.” It focuses entirely on the materialistic benefits of education.
Careers. Job training. Workforce skills. Turn our kids into bricks in the corporate wall. Entrench them in the vilest pornography of all – an existence based on conspicuous consumption.
BUY MORE STUFF.
The Common Core = DEATH TO CURIOUSITY. CREATIVITY. DISCOVERY. DIVERGENT THINKING.
Our current school system is based on a model developed in 1850, at the height of the Industrial Age. It aimed to create robotic human beings whose behavior could be controlled. Prime them for a life of complacent factory work.
Take everyone who’s the same age, regardless of interest, or aptitude, and stuff them into an isolated room. Train them to move at the sound of a bell.
Schools don’t teach anything except how to obey orders. They are irrelevant to the great endeavors of the world.
What are our kids “learning?”
To move when a bell rings. To memorize scientific formulas when they want to write poetry. To interact with a frighteningly homogeneous group of people, cut off from the true diversity of the human experience. To lack compassion for those who cannot fit in. To be simultaneously arrogantly entitled and passively dependent while parental helicopter blades ‘whup whup whup‘ hover overhead.
The world is changing at warp speed. Growing. Not changing the way it did when we grew up.
The Internet facilitates the delivery of information in a way that is unparalleled in the history of the world. As a result, the human experience is global. Cultures are mixing. How are our kids fit to maintain harmony in a diverse cultural world?
And what about the 2 billion people who are predicted to inhabit the earth over the next twenty years? How will they be fed, if we don’t create new food systems? Where will they live, if we continue to pollute cities and destroy coastlines? How will they stay alive, if we don’t combat the inevitable growth of new medical threats as our collective resistances grow?
We are “educating” our kids for a world that won’t even exist by the time they are adults.
HOW WILL ANYONE SURVIVE, if all that is taught in school is
Our real challenge? Train kids to be creative, passionate, independent and innovative.
-Teach them something USEFUL.
How to balance a checkbook.
How to cook a meal.
How to grow living things.
-Teach them COMPASSION.
Involve them with the real world.
Make community service part of the entire school process. Start kids young, so they internalize the desire to give back to the community, instead of doing so dispassionately so they can put it on their COLLEGE APPLICATIONS.
-Teach them INDEPENDENCE.
Trust them with independent study.
Let them choose their own reading curriculum. Kids learn to despise reading because the prosaic rubbish forced on them to read is painful.
Let them study outside the confines of the school.
Cut out the vast quantity of homework, and give them back their TIME.
Time to discover their uniqueness and what endeavors make their hearts soar. And let them pursue THOSE.
Incorporate trips to museums. Let them be energized and invigorated by brilliant works of art.
Take them on field trips to concerts. Let them hear a gorgeous symphony.
Expose them to great theater.
Allow them to experience diverse neighborhoods.
OPEN THEIR EYES! OPEN THEIR MINDS!
Whatever garbage they’re attempting to teach our kids in the classrooms isn’t working. Students don’t like it, care about, or retain it one minute after they’ve been tested on it.
Our education system is a bloated, archaic, bureaucratic, imperial useless RELIC. It can’t be fixed.
TEAR IT DOWN AND START ALL OVER.
I’m only one person, and I can only make a tiny difference. I can raise my son to be creative and freethinking. I can go to school board meetings and complain. I can engage people in conversation about this. I can write about this.
I can hit Publish.
Do you feel like schools are useless? How can this be changed?
Does your high school kid know what 7 x 8 is, without looking at a calculator?
Talk to me. I’m listening.
I see the same things you do…daily. I teach in a large affluent school district like yourself. I feel like I’m one of the few that care enough to tirelessly to save these young adults from themselves and the cold unrelenting system that awaits them. A system that forces on them a very illogical and ineffective means of learning life and occupational skills.
Kindness Blog reblogged this today. It bring a song memory from way back. The clip kind of goes wonky about 3/4 of the way, but the message is much the same, and besides, Buffy is one of my favorites and teachers. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k4CWfA3OwKY