“When I think back on all the crap I learned in high school, it’s a wonder I can think at all!” So wrote Paul Simon back in the day, and things haven’t gotten much better. Public education is a little like having milk in a grocery store. You GOTTA have it, but you make money off of beer. I, myself, am a graduate of Killeen High School, conveniently located in Killeen, Texas, and that’s about as illiterate as it comes where they’ll still let you drive a car. The curriculum was quite focused, actually. They taught most of us to read, and naturally writing followed. Since we were all pretty much Texas white trash we already knew how to count. See, that comes from not having a whole lot of money so you don’t have to count very high. You HAD to take Texas history. Then there was health, which told us primarily how to avoid the clap, so I guess you could count that as sex education, too. Sex education, don’t get me started. You sit there for three hours teaching teens about sex WITH PICTURES, and then stand back in snake amazement when Suzy Sweetcheeks winds up pregnant.
If you persevered, and bought a gown you got to graduate. Now you didn’t KNOW anything. McDonalds was somewhere out in California so you had two choices; join the army, or try to find a job. The one percenters went to college, which only put off the inevitable because they didn’t learn anything there either. I studied geography in high school, but I knew the world was flat, because when people left Killeen they never came back. The ONLY thing I learned of any value was typing, and if you will notice I’m doing that NOW!
Schools have been graduating fools for years, myself being a perfect example thereof, but somewhere down the pike the school ma’arms figured out the route to adequate public funding was teaching students to pass tests. That and develop courses that have absolute nothing to do with life. In that respect maybe sex education has a place in that you can go out and at least SELL that! Now all this sounds pretty primitive, but let me clue you in, the kids are still learning nothing in school, only faster because now they have computers!
So how do we fix this? Well, first we need to look at what education is for. Education is supposed to prepare you to go out and make a living. That’s it! Come off that stage, take off that gown, go over to Stan’s garage, and start fixing cars. If you fix enough cars, and do it well, you progress from eating hot dogs to eating steak. Back in my day the kid who dropped out and helped his dad lay roofing was far better off than I was with my diploma. Matter of fact Willie, a friend of mine, learned how to plumb, and had just enough schooling to read the state plumbing exam and become a master plumber.
The aspiration of a college degree is all very fine, and I suppose there’s a place for that, but that kid with a degree is basically no better off than I was, and far below Willie with his little Roto Rooter when it came to acquiring that steak. Willie got the prettiest girl, too! Where did I get this revolutionary idea? Mr Cole, my civics teacher who told my class that very few of us would ever darken the door of a college, and those that did would most likely never graduate.
Once you teach a kid to read, and understand what is being read your job is ninety percent done. Over the years vocational training has been stigmatized as teachers point students to stars they will never reach. Shop class, automotive class, and dare I say it, homemaking, should be staples, not second choices. And this Common Core crap is just that . . . CRAP! Take THAT to an IRS audit and see how things work out for you. I did NOT learn how to write in school. I learned to write by reading what others wrote years later. I really didn’t need sex education either, but I did like the pictures.
With the Internet, and faster and faster communication the old idea of schooling is becoming a dinosaur. My eight year old granddaughter, Puck, is more literate than I was when Dr. Ellison handed me that diploma back in 1969. She HAD to learn to read in order to text! She had to learn her numbers because she is diabetic and ingredients and amounts are critical to her survival. She taught HERSELF! While her teachers were teaching her to “see the dog run” Puck was reaching for understanding what Trans Fats were and how many different ways “sugar” could slip into what she was about to eat. My other granddaughter, Kylie, donated time in a doctor’s office. She had to get her high school diploma because they wouldn’t let her into Arizona State University without it, but she KNOWS what she will do with her life, and will play their silly game until she buys that steak.
Kids aren’t dumb, but they can be “dumbed down” by a system designed to train them to fake their way through a test without ever understanding what the words really meant. The system makes it easy to grade tests. What about, instead of a multiple choice question about what IS Obamacare, how about explain Obamacare in your own words and the teacher has to read and UNDERSTAND what the student wrote! Learning can be a two way street, but until then, “See the dog run!”