I'm Not So Sure Everyone Is Worth A Good Education

I taught for a few years, and I loved it.  I even loved working with the kids who did not want to be there, and there were plenty. 

It caused me to change the way that I think about universal education. 

If you live in a fat country, like mine, you may come to see school as some sort of holding cell for the not yet of age instead of a place to gather knowledge and, in some ways, prepare for adulthood.  This is certainly the image that has been propagated for the last forty years by many people in many forms of media. 

Once something is considered a universal right, it easily becomes a universal doormat.  And, K-12 education in the United States is largely a very expensive doormat. 

So take it away.  What I saw leads me to believe that the kids I saw graduating high school were no better prepared for adult and work life at eighteen than they were at fourteen.  Cut them loose after eighth grade.  Those who see the value of further education should be able to opt in for high school -- with serious written commitment, so no one is wasting their time with people who are not serious.  Yes, I know children can not be held accountable if they sign a contract, but their parents who sign with them can be. 

The level of competency that I saw in most of the children leaving for college was not adequate to make the grade in even the easiest institutions, and those children were not able to even obtain associate's degrees. 

The idea that tax payers should be on the hook to propel so many of such limited ability through university is beyond me.  I think advanced education is one fo the more important ticket punches a person can get, but if it becomes universal, it will become nearly universally worthless. 

In the meantime, before that disaster happens, there are lots of ways to pay for university work, and those who show promise can usually get what they need.  They may not be able to pay for Brown for undergrad, but do they really need to?  Outside of truly technical fields, the people I have seen who have contributed the most value to organizations have come from mid-level universities.  You know, they ones where most of the students work to get through. 

TheSquirrel TheSquirrel
51-55, M
2 Responses Mar 20, 2010

Many of those "kids" you so easily dismiss are now fighting and dying in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other places because they discovered that the best job they could find in the Bush-created economy was to join the military. <br />
As a former military officer and life-long teacher, (high school and college), my experience has been that parents and economic conditions have a great deal to do with students' behaviors and attitudes.<br />
Another major factor is that a teacher must be overprepared for every class every day. <br />
Think about it: we're dealing with adolescents here.<br />
How many of us were well-behaved little automatons at that time? <br />
How many of us would want to deal with 15-30 students every single day who are just like we were at that age? It is futile to expect an adolescent to have the maturity and judgment of a 30 year old.

This was happening long before the "Bush-created" economy came along. I think very low thoughts about the man, myself. The mistakes made during his years may well have pushed us over the edge. However, you will have to try harder than to blame it on him and his congresses. You can't blame it on poverty, either. If that were true, we would all be poor, or at least I would be. And kids were better behaved in generations past.

Very interesting and well written discourse on the wasted education, or, should I say, education of the wasted, in America. I like the 'doormat' analogy, it fits for many situations in our country where institutionalization has brought about an abnormal kind of malaise. Kids are allowed to wait until they are 18 to even decide if they want to participate in life, creating dependent, ignorant, unmotivated people. There doesn't seem to be any solution at hand, our kids are spoiled rotten, and have a sense of entitlement that was handed to them from the moment of birth.