Thursday, February 10, 2005

School Daze

Many years ago, many old timers might have said, "I only had an eighth grade education".

I am sure this was intended to build impetus in youngsters to take advantage of their opportunity for more advanced educational prospects, especially, in light of the fact, that most of those "oldsters" had managed to carve themselves out a pretty nice slice of the American Dream with only that eighth grade education.

Suffice it to say, that if any of us today were faced with taking that final exam for graduation, our jaws would drop and we might not even know where to begin. I have included a link to a copy of one of those eighth grade final exams. (Link)

We have dumbed down America. This is obviously another reason that the citizens of our country have chosen to give George W. Bush another four years in office.

Even in my state, one of the bluest of the blue, education is in a state of turmoil. New tests have been created and standards set. Much has been made of these tests and one cannot graduate now unless they are passed. Never mind that when they were first created, 54% of those charged with imparting the wisdom, contained therein, were unable to pass them!

Now they are teaching to the test, and a major portion of the year is spent on taking pre-tests in order to see how one will do before the BIG exam.

One of my heros has been E.D. Hirsch, an educator, who created The Common Core of Knowledge curriculum. (Link) This curriculum has had wonderful results in those places it has been implemented, Caney Creek, for instance.

The crux of Hirsch's argument is that we live in a society where we share a certain culture, and in order to be a productive and knowledgable person in that society's culture, there are certain things we need to know. It would seem to me that one of the most important things would be our country's history.

Now it seems that those, who are receiving an education in today's classrooms, have little, if no real knowledge of the Bill of Rights. How depressing is this? To think that those youngsters who will one day, in the not too distant future, perhaps be in positions of power, and voters (hopefully) at the very least, think that the First Amendment goes too far? This shows, shamefully, a very basic lack of understanding of our Constitution and the creation of our Republic. The very REASONS we have a Bill of Rights.

We need to get back to basics. This will be a long hard pull, as Bush has made it painfully clear that monies which should be spent on education, healthcare, our environment and a myriad of other social programs will not be used for those things but rather to increase the bank accounts of the more wealthy of his cronies, and to support a war which should never have been begun.

Less time needs to be spent on worrying about "intelligent design", or whether or not your teenager (who will be sexually active anyway!) knows what a condom is, and more time spent on cultivating questioning, seeking minds...minds that have an appreciation of just what our Founding Fathers fought so hard to create.