Here johnnyb talks about “Intelligent Design and the Education Crisis,” assuring us, “No I’m Not Talking About Evolution Today”. No need, johnnyb. I used to work in educational publishing, and heartily agree with this:
Want to start a revolution in education? Start by looking at what motivates kids to love learning. Money can motivate kids to *do* the work, but that’s not what education is. Loving learning is what will make kids educated, whether they go through college or not. None of the standardized tests will tell you if your child loves learning. None of them will say, “this person wants to get to the bottom of things, and won’t stop until he finds it.”
But here are some problems:
1. Education in North American and Europe is a tax-funded compulsory enterprise. One inevitable outcome is the throngs of mediocrities and failures that infest the system, spending hours each day with your kid. (Please, commenters, don’t write to me to tell me about hero teachers. I was taught by some such people; I even know a family of hero teachers. That does not remove from reality the vast throngs, whom I also know too well.
Look, it’s the same in the criminal court system. Slack employees are common because the accused can’t take his business elsewhere.
If intelligent design has any contribution to make, it would include restoring reason to these matters, instead of perceiving everyone as a meatbot.
2. The system – a captive money pot – is hostage to ambitious pseudo-intellectuals’ trendy ideas. It doesn’t matter if your kid is literate or numerate; it matters if the pseud’s ideas on the subject get fronted.
3. The school board system is an antiquated drag on society that popular piety refuses to reexamine. Back in the 19th and early 20th centuries, school boards got started because farming folk often refused to send their kids to school. (My own grandfather squabbled with some of them; he was a schoolteacher.) Their motives were understandable, of course. People lived off hardscrabble farms, and the thing to teach a kid was how to do that right. Anyway, the kid’s help was needed on the farm.* Now, those people were eventually wrong, but they had no crystal ball for a much later day when education vastly improved opportunities and earning power.
The system that was then put in place to ensure that children have those opportunities has degenerated into a publicly funded bureaucracy that is – in practice – largely unaccountable because so few people even know who the school board trustees are. In these situations, the bureaucracy usually makes a deal with the unions, and everyone except the kid matters.
Solutions? Charter schools, vouchers, lotteries for private schools, scholarships to private schools. A stopgap for now. Later, we have to reorganize the system to serve all students better.
* Lines from my father’s life give you the fast fading picture of those farming days, circa 1923:
My father’s first job was when he was four years old: His mother told him to follow a turkey hen into the hills and find out where she was laying her eggs.
Well, the hen would walk maybe 30 metres, and stop and look sideways behind her. Dad was there. She was taller than he was.
He persisted, and found her nest, and ran and told his mom. She rushed up and gathered the eggs and put them under a broody hen (not a stupid bird, not like the turkey).
Coyotes could have got the turkey eggs if they were left in the hills. They could have got the hen too. They’d wait for her, of course. So my grandma had a good reason for doing what she did, even if the turkey hen didn’t like it. But that was how people lived in those days.
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