Education runs deep, like religion or politics, it is central to our being and we certainly all have our own opinions, defined by extensive experience, on the subject.
Attempting to reform the education system in America is treading on hallowed ground. All systems of public education came into being in order to meet the needs of industrialism, in the 19th century. Ever since then, they haven’t really changed. They’ve been churning out generations of Americans, all instilled with a very similar scholastic formula; there is only one way to do school. Ironically, such a concrete system is based on very abstract concepts.
The education that molds us today is meant to take us into a future we cannot grasp. Children starting first grade this year will be graduating high school in the year 2024. We have no idea what the world will look like next year, much less in 12 years, and yet, we are preparing our children for it.
We place them on the tried and true track to college, completely predicated on the idea of academic ability. The valued subjects are the core subjects—mathematics, sciences and humanities—because they are the ones that are going to land the greatest number of students a job, once they enter the “real world”. Yet, it completely ostracizes an entire chunk of young minds, who are told that what they are good at—painting, dance, violin—is not valued, not only in school but in the “real world”.
Imbuing millions, literally millions, of children with the single goal of getting into college is extremely detrimental. It truncates the entire learning experience. It creates this notion that there will come a point where one will no longer have to learn, because they’ve learned everything they need to know. They’ve reached the finish line.
However, we continue to extend that finish line. Degrees aren’t worth what they used to be. MA’s and PhD’s are becoming the new norm. It’s a process of academic inflation.
Reforming such a rigid, complex and increasingly ineffective system isn’t a task for a single politician in Washington D.C., nor is it something that can be dealt with by building a few progressive and creative schools. It’s an entire mindset that needs to be altered and a society that’s going to have to change along with it.