It is not news that education in America is outrageously expensive and children are graduating from high school without the skills to productively contribute in real world. According to Fareed Zakaria of CNN,
“On a recent international test, U.S. students ranked only 15th in the world in reading, 23rd in science and 31st in math. Overall, the World Economic Forum ranks the quality of our education at 26th. What’s odd is that we’ve been outspending most developed countries by a long shot. In 2007, we spent over $10,000 per student versus the $7400 average for rich countries. “
Students blame teachers, teachers blame families, families blame teachers, the Democrats blame the lack of funding and the Republicans blame the unions. There is truth to all sides of the discussion as much as there are falsehoods.
What is really important and what can we truly change?
The Most Important Facet of Quality Education in Every Society: Industrialization
In tribal societies, societies in which there is little if any industrialization, formal education is almost nonexistent. According to the Journal of American Indian Education;
The Plains Indians’ style of life was closely tied to the natural forces around them in terms of hunting, fishing, and other forms of food-gathering, and their acculturation and socialization measures were oriented to these activities. In terms of what the educational enterprise of the Indians was designed to do–to preserve and maintain their way of life, it was a success.
When a society must work full time simply to establish the necessities of food, clothing, and shelter, there is very little time to teach much more than the process of fulfilling such needs. Therefore, early tribes consistently maintained zero unemployment. Why? Because you either worked to survive or you died.
Industrialization made people, and therefore societies, far more productive. By automating processes, using machines instead of people or Animals to do the mindless work necessary in a productive society, eventually the ability to mass produce goods efficiently came into existence. In turn, people began to possess the ability to focus on other tasks.
Today we are fortunate that we do not have to produce our own food, build our own houses, or stitch our own clothing if we choose not to do so. Instead, we can focus on engineering, marketing, the arts, or a near infinite number of tasks, all of which necessitate an education system.
The Second Most Important Facet of Quality Education in Every Society: Culture
Once industrialization has taken a hold on society, a culture that can support education develops. Value is place as an aggregate of the value the entire population places on the need. Japan for example, is an industrialized society that values greatly a person’s success. Failure at any major task is viewed by society as a loss of honor. In such society, education will be a high value because success cannot be achieved unless competition is woven into the fabric of the society.
According to the Asia for Educators curriculum at Columbia University, “[t]he education system in Japan is extremely competitive, and from a very young age, children have to begin to prepare for entry examinations.” This study goes on to explain that children’s lives are even organized around the education system from the outset.
Industrialization begets production which frees up people within a society to focus on other priorities. A culture that values education is without question positioned best to produce well educated people.
Once industrialization has formed in a society and the culture is such that education is valued, the final necessity to a child’s education is the family unit. Obviously, learning is a very personal initiative and, unquestionably, difficult. Without a family structure supportive of learning, no young student will ever learn.
The Real Problem
What, as a society, can be done to affect industrialization, culture, and the family unit? Such components of life change only over generations, so in relation to public policy and the immediate future, the truly effective aspects of education are set in stone.
What can be affected, though, are the processes and the people (how education is acquired, the teachers, and administrators). Teachers and administrators want society to believe they play a bigger role in education than they do, but it is evident they do not. They want society to believe this, because they want society to value their contribution to the point where they control the message, process, and most importantly, the money.
A teacher cannot change a child’s family life any more than he or she can change the culture or industrialization of a nation. A good teacher though, can educate motivated children growing up in an environment conducive to learning.
The process must be viewed with the understanding that teachers are, at best, the fourth element in regard to what makes for a quality education system. Their contribution is no more important to education than that the grocer’s contribution to food production. They are certainly important, but not so important that the facts of the market do not apply to them.
Therefore, the process must be changed to what obviously works in all markets; the introduction of competition. Such a system would force administrators, teachers, and unions to earn the right to educate children, it would not be handed to them by default. Such a system would bust the government and union monopoly on K-12 education and place the focus where is should be: on educating children.
Otherwise, we have what we have today in which indoctrination has overtaken education. Students today are graduating with little understanding of American history or capitalism, while brainwashed into believing that their choices are either Marxism whitewashed as socialism, or corporatism.
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