Monday, April 27, 2009

The problem with public schooling

I have been doing a lot of thinking and reading about the public school system lately and what is wrong with it. It is no secret if you read with this page with any regularity that I have a great deal of distrust bordering on distaste for the public school system. As I have been thinking about it, I have come to the realization that the massive institution of “school” is flawed not just from a Christian parenting perspective (although that is the first and most pressing reason for homeschooling our kids). It is flawed fundamentally at another, deeper level that has nothing to do with Christian kids being taught in a secular school setting. A lot of this thinking has come into clearer focus while reading a book by John Taylor Gatto Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling (I hadn’t heard of him until I saw a link about the book on April’s blog but it is electrifying stuff), a former schoolteacher in New York City. A book review of Dumbing Us Down is forthcoming as well.

My thoughts have coalesced around the realization some time ago that the flaws in the public school system have become so severe and institutionalized that the system of compulsory state mandated and enforced schooling is broken beyond repair. It is kept alive by a combination of cultural nostalgia, institutional inertia and the efforts of vested interests in the education establishment to perpetuate and even expand the system. I have been working on a post about the public school system that has gotten longer and longer, and ultimately unwieldy, so I am planning on breaking it down into several posts.

Entrenched Interests

The Educational System of the Educational System

Cultural Nostalgia and Parental Apathy

A Misguided Mission

So What Is the Answer?

My goal is not to disparage parents who send their kids to public school or to slander individual teachers or even individual schools. My hope is that this series will spur us to think about the school system: where it came from, what it is supposed to and what it really does accomplish, why do “education reforms” never seem to make anything better. These are not esoteric questions. School buildings are ubiquitous in every town of decent size in America and perhaps no institution in America has a greater impact on our society. The public school system is the repository of the vast majority of our nation’s children during their most formative years. Most kids are sent on a bus driven by a relative stranger, full of other relative strangers, for the first time at age five and then their lives revolve around that school, the system, other kids their age and the authority figures at the school until they are 18. When a child boards a bus for the first time they enter a system that will mold them until they are old enough to drive, vote, sign contracts and serve in the military. From a few years removed from diapers they are in the system until they are ready to enter the workforce, vote for President and be a Marine. How much thought does the average parent give to school? They might move based on "good" school systems but for the overwhelming majority of parents, when their child turns five they stick them on the bus and hope they turn out OK thirteen years later. We can no longer ship our kids off with minimal thought to a place that is going to make them who they will be as adults.

(BTW, the picture is of Anthony Wayne High School, the high school that my siblings and I graduated from)

1 comment:

Steve Martin said...

"We can no longer ship our kids off with minimal thought to a place that is going to make them who they will be as adults."


We are letting leftists and Atheists (many of them are), mold our children into something that is antithetical to our every hope for them.