Fred Reed suggested that Donald Trump appoint John Derbyshire as Secretary of Education. He won’t even though there are few candidates better suited for the job. Maybe he won’t because there are few better suited.
Back to ponderous wisdom. Bright kids learn to read by reading, by going to the library and coming back with ten books, by reading voraciously, indiscriminately, clandestinely reading under the covers at night with flashlights. You don’t teach them to read. You get out of their way. In fact, you don’t teach them much of anything. They do it.
Coming back to the plight of John’s kids and Spanish, I ask myself what I actually learned in high school. Almost nothing. I took required courses in economics, geography, Latin, Spanish, English, some kind of history (that I cannot remember what sort of history suggests that it did not add materially to my store of knowledge), government–and and came as blank as I had begun. While I wasn’t bright enough to attract tour buses, I was some above average–and yet, apart from math, learned no more than the dumbest kids. If Tommy (name redacted) hadn’t stolen the senior-civics exam, I would still be in high school.
I did profit from two years of algebra, one of plane geometry, and typing. Why? Because I was interested. I can still do long division of polynomials. What I really most learned in school (my high school transcript may not fascinate you. Patience. I am coming to a point) was physiology. For some reason it interested me and I inhaled textbooks, to lasting effect (eosinophils, neutrophils, basophils, large and small monocytes…see?)
From which we conclude: Kids will learn what interests them. They won’t learn anything else. This is why hackers of fifteen years break into secured networks but do not know whether Columbus discovered America or the other way around.
So what is the point of school?
As far as the schools go in modern society, the point is plain: to manufacture good, little, obedient worker drones. Schools are a good place to indoctrinate children into state worship. That’s child abuse. They also mandate forced, unpaid attendance at dull, prison-like indoctrination centers. That’s slavery. And they provide employment for pedophiles, social justice warriors, and other otherwise unemployable folks (and, yes, a few dedicated teachers, sometimes and in a very few places). That’s make-work stimulation. Finally, the schools serve as outlets for tax dollars better spent elsewhere by the productive and the property-owning. That’s communism.
So, we pay for and our children endure: abusive, make-work, communist slavery. In America. In the 21st century.
Derbyshire has previously called for abolishing public education. That’s an ideal approach. It probably won’t happen anytime soon. It will happen someday. But even that’s not enough to fix the real problems.
With a few customized exceptions, schools, period, do a poor job of educating anyone. (Home schooled and privately tutored children do the best – period). Regardless of what kind of primary school you went to, rattle off three things you learned after, say, third grade. If you recall anything, it’s likely something you taught yourself.
It’s not just you. It’s all humanity. The system needs a total conversion. What we have today just does not work. It produces 40th rate results.
The U.S. Department of Education just released its 2015 Performance of U.S. 15-Year-Olds vs. The Rest of the World study report. We did terrible in all categories. I say “we” because we all bear some responsibility. I am atoning by writing this call for change.
The Department of Education didn’t exist until the late 1970s. It educates no-one and never has. At best it is a system for tracking its own failures. At worst it’s a massive, national expose on the theme of abusive, communist slavery. The results of this stupidity:
U.S. kids tie for 40th place in math:
25th place in science literacy:
24th in basic literacy:
Previous research has shown that the U.S. spends more on education than just about any other nation on Earth. We’re not getting our monies’ worth. It’s not a money problem. It’s a problem of both people and their thinking (or distinct lack thereof).
One will note that the countries that outshine us are uniformly either Asian or European or Euro-based countries (i.e. New Zealand). It’s not just the education system that’s failed. Since 1965, immigration policies haven’t helped either. I’ll be blunt: the introduction of 60 million lower IQ immigrants from the third world is dragging down our averages.
Look at the three U.S. States listed under “reading”. Massachusetts students, resembling the demographics of Norway more than Mexico, would tie for second place. North Carolina students would be in the top ten. Puerto Rico’s students place below Mexico. There’s probably a politically correct reason why they didn’t independently display results from Wyoming and Vermont.
If they broke it down by regions, counties, and cities the results would be more dramatic. I imagine there are whole broken schools systems that can barely compete (if we can call it that) with places like Somalia.
A proper system would have a place for all levels of interest and aptitude. Primitives with no interest in Western Civilization and no ability to get there would stay put in their own native lands. Lower level students could be fast tracked through to either vocational training or some form of employment. Average students would remain average. And gifted children would breeze through unhindered and learning what they like at their own pace.
This “Utopian” dream greatly resembles the way things have worked in advanced countries for millennia. This would cost a fraction of what we spend now. It would improve civic responsibility and interest. It would free our children to both be children and to become adults. And it would send numerous bureaucrats to the soup lines.
The choice is ours: unproductive torture or enlightenment. Do we really care about the children? Society? Civilization?