Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Why Do We Make Education So Complicated?

These are the two governing documents for Amish run parochial schools in Indiana....

As you can tell, they aren't very thick. One is about 30 pages and the other is around 10 pages. Somehow the Amish manage to educate thousands of kids each year in Indiana, even though they only attend school (generally) through the 8th grade and none of their teachers has a degree in education (or a degree in anything or a high school diploma).

Granted, there aren't really Amish doctors, scientists and engineers. There certainly is a need for more complex, high level academic training at the high school level for kids heading into technical fields in college. Amish grammar and spelling is often poor but then again they are pretty much 100% bi-lingual. On the other hand, almost every really nice house in our vicinity is owned by an Amish family and most every small business is likewise Amish run. Virtually every child is raised in an intact family, divorce is basically non-existent and family/community ties are very strong.

So if this community can consistently churn out thousands of students with an 8th grade education that are industrious, family oriented and not a drain on society, why do "English" pubic schools need to have every teacher obtain a Master's degree (usually in education rather than the subject they teach)? Why does the U.S. Department of Education need an annual budget of $68,000,000,000 for 50,000,000 children, or about $1,360 per student when no one in the Dept. of Education actually teaches any children? Why do we need a Federal Department of Education in the first place? Why have historic trends shown an ever increasing percentage of our GDP spent on education but have a correspondingly poorer output?

Why are we not allowed to ask these questions without being accused of not caring about The Children!!!!

I am not recommending we go to a system of 8th grade education governed by a couple of what amount to pamphlets. But I do wonder why we have turned "education" into an industry that seems at times to be a giant jobs machine for people with education degrees and is so incredibly complex and cumbersome that parents and students alike appear to just be carried along by the torrent, hoping for the best. What the Amish have that is missing from the general public education is real local control. The schools are smaller and the parents via the school board have pretty absolute control over what goes on. As I will show in a future post, when the parents volunteer their time to actually build the school building, they tend to be pretty invested in the school!

As parents get further and further from the running of the school and more and more people from outside of the school district, including a lot of people that never have been to the school district in the first place and probably have never even heard of it, exert more control over the school, it becomes ever more complicated. It becomes an arcane world of experts and jargon, meetings and conferences, teaching methods and human resources.

Maybe the solution is not more and more advanced education degrees and fancier teaching methods but simply moving control back to the local school and the parents of the kids and for crying out loud just making it less complicated.

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