The education system is a big deal. Here in Alabama the AEA Alabama Education Association is arguably the most powerful labor union in the state. In this episode we discuss its impact on personal sustainability.
In order to have a proper discussion of the education system and its impact on anything we have to look a little at its history. You know I couldn’t pass up on that.
There have been institutions of higher learning for a very long time. Up until fairly recent history these institutions were not open to just anyone. There have been schools for the ruling class and to help train religious leaders for almost as long as their have been people on the planet.
There have been schools recorded in several countries thousands of years ago. Most of which you either had to be wealthy or chosen to be able to attend. In the United States schools were originally the responsibility of each town and most charged tuition. There were schools that were set up for the poorer classes, but these were only to teach very rudimentary skills.
Most education was expected to occur in the home, this was impossible for uneducated parents and most couldn’t afford tuition fees. This widened a separation of classes. This was the norm through most of the 17th and 18th centuries.
In England a man by the name of Robert Raikes was going to change all of that, even though he didn’t know he was. I will spar you all of the history, if you wish you can read more about it here. But Mr. Raikes created a free school that taught reading, writing, logic, cipher, and Scripture. This was Sunday School and was the foundation of what we now consider public school.The children that attended Mr Raikes school were the most unfortunate, their parents were either in prison or had died. The children worked 6 days a week just to survive in the mills or sweatshops. Mr. Raikes was also a visionary of sorts. His was one of the few schools that allowed both boys and girls to study together. Remember this was in the late 1700’s.
By 1870 all states had free elementary education. There were still droves of problems with the system, but it was doing what it was designed to do. Create workers that were educated enough to do what needed to be done.
My Families Education History
Now lets get a little more personal. My great, great grandfather was a self educated doctor. We still have one of his textbooks and even his ledger. He was a highly educated man. My grandfather quit school in the sixth grade and he didn’t know how to read. His mother and he taught him how to read with the Bible. My father quit school in the tenth grade, but went on to get a GED (general education diploma), a bachelors and two masters degrees all in Theology. I graduated high school, and have an associates as well as a bachelors degree. My children have all gone to public schools.
The Goal of Public Education
At one time the goal of education was simple. Make sure that everyone who attended received a basic level of instruction. This is still the goal of sorts. Today instead of focusing on problem solving and logic the schools are focused on standardized test scores. This focus has meant that many things that I consider needful learning has moved to the wayside. None of my children were taught geography, penmanship, or any real applicable skills. Oh my daughter can do mathematical equations that are beyond my knowledge, but she doesn’t know how to apply them. On penmanship there is now a move to stop teaching cursive writing all together, because the written word isn’t as important as it used to be.
Today the education system is not only used to create willing drones for the machine, it has turned into an indoctrination center. When I was in school we were taught the creation theories of several religions as well as evolution. Our teacher told us that it was up to us to determine what we believed. We were taught to question everything, don’t try to do that now.
Parents Have Turned Over The Responsibility
As many problems as the education system has and as corrupt as it has gotten in several areas, the responsibility for our children’s education still has to fall on us as parents. When I was in the first grade, an experimental reading program was tried out in several schools. My school was one of the lucky ones. Some children did well with this system, but most didn’t. I was one of the ones that it hurt most. I passed the first grade and in the second grade we were to transition from the experimental program to actual reading. I just couldn’t do it.
I was passed from the second grade to the third on condition. That meant that if I didn’t do well, they would move me back to the second grade. I was in the third grade reading below a first grade level. Think about that. This experimental system not only didn’t help me, it moved me backwards. I had a teacher who believed in me and she talked my mom into enrolling me in special reading classes. This was the class for all of the children that were having severe reading problems. I remember there was a boy in my class that was legally blind and there were several special needs kids in there.
My mom also swung into action and she found every book she could that she thought I would find interesting. We are talking John Henry The Steel Driving Man, Paul Bunyan, and many more. With the help of the special reading class and my mom, I went from below a first grade reading level to a sixth grade reading level in one year. Yay! Mom.
As parents we have to be actively involved in our children’s education. In some cases we have to correct the garbage that is being taught. In others we just have to add to the teachings. We have to work on our children’s skills. The system no longer cares about whether or not a child can do anything after they get out as long as the test scores are good.
There are still some great teachers out there and I applaud them. But we have to be honest and say that the education system in many ways stands in the way of the development of self reliance let alone sustainability.
Many have turned to homeschooling to deal with these issues and done correctly I am all for it. For many of us due to our schedules this is not an option.
What can we do to fix this? How can we make sure our children are ready for the future? What have you noticed? I would love to hear from you.
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