All education is self education. If we examine the process of learning attentively, what other truly enduring education can there be?
As COVID restrictions loosen and more children return to school, now is the perfect time to ask ourselves, "What is the legitimate purpose of formal schooling?" To learn what?
Because of previous, government-dictated isolation, everyone seems focused on socialization skills learned by interaction with youngsters in classrooms, extracurricular activities, and with adult teachers.
But what of formal education as authentic knowledge-skill learning?
The recent "health" hiatus provides a good time to do precisely that. The three "Rs," Reading, wRiting, and aRithmetic must be restored as the sturdy foundation. These three basic knowledge-skills in particular prepare students for later independent living away from home. English is (and should be) America’s common language, so the first two "Rs" cover that.
When 17th, 18th, 19-century immigrants came to our shores from Germany, France, Italy, Holland, etc. they all learned English, the language of the first settlers comprising a majority of inhabitants.
If they didn’t, their children did. All countries today still have a national language, and in spite of PC advocates it’s English in America. Every child in America should learn English, and the subject also should include writing the English language properly.
There is such a thing as grammar, and grammar should be taught not only for skill but also for discipline. Grammar is structure, and learning structure teaches young minds to recognize and create structure in all skills, including the exercise of reason and logical — non-contradictory — thought. Math — beyond any credibility — is often racially politicized now but absolutely necessary for everything from cooking to paying bills; calculators do not suffice (and batteries required).
Correct — not politically correct — national/world history (including geography) comes next; without accurate knowledge of the past the future cannot be charted productively.
Unfortunately history is now massively distorted to address "social-emotional sensitivities," turning teachers into amateur psychologists. Science: at least biology. Ethics: not according to any religion but according to facts of human nature.
Humans are not born with behavioral instincts like lower animals; humans must make choices and decide the best behavior to implement for optimum survival.
Physical wellness: sports and fitness but not sex and gender issues; personal subjects are the purview of parents not teachers.
Underestimated art skills round out the mandatory program: See "The Fourth R in Education: Reading, WRiting, ARithmetic, and ARt" for specific details.
Now is past time for responsible parents to vigorously participate with school boards and teachers as to what their children should be taught . . . or not. Way past time to stop teachers from pushing PC doctrine; current-day politics do not belong in classrooms — children need to learn how to think not what to think. Time to foster curiosity and ambition.
Children are not minds to be molded, they are young human beings — each one an individual Self —who need to experience the efficacy of formulating and asking questions, the thrill of individual achievement, and the desire to learn . . . a desire that should remain energetic long after formal schooling is over.
Humans are self-created creatures who are never finished because there is always more to learn, new subjects to explore, different skills to be mastered. It’s the yearn to learn that must be fostered in the young, not the need to conform and assimilate into group-think which stifles individualism completely. . . as is the plan of too many educators today.
The desire and ability to self educate as an independent adult should be the goal of formal education for the young. Adult self-inspired learning should be the result of a formal education that sets preliminary standards and skills to be improved and expanded after graduation. In the end, all learning is self taught.
Teachers and parents can lead the way, but children have free will, too, and should be encouraged to find pleasure in self-motivated learning on their own as adults.
Today, the teaching profession in America is destructive rather than instructive. Tenure keeps inferior, lazy, or blatantly proselytizing teachers in undeserved positions. Unions aggressively demand ever-increasing monetary profit and benefits for teachers rather than encouraging members to focus on profit and benefits of learning for students.
Political Correctness and Identity Politics concoct the poisonous brew that nurtures not independent thinking but kills independent thought.
The American educational system is a disaster. Parents of means can decide which private school is best for their children but, aside from homeschooling, parents whose children must attend public institutions should seek out (or endeavor to establish) charter schools.
These schools are government (tax-payer) funded but operate independently from a state system that forces conformity via government-dictated curricula; thus, they are far superior in providing genuine education. Religious schools, too, are usually educationally reliable, so even nonreligious but concerned parents can select that option.
Above all, sincere and dedicated teachers must stand up for rational standards and the good of students. Parents must stand up to teachers. Why? Because children are rapidly becoming the ever increasing collateral damage wrought by power lustful politicians and private-sector supporters who would tyrannize all Americans into obedience and annihilate the last of our heritage as a free people. To the advantage of these would-be dictators (many not even clandestine anymore) the COVID pandemic laid fortuitous groundwork for docile submission and surrender of independence to become culturally endemic.
Fearlessness must now replace fear, or by destroying the minds of our youth the future — America as an idea — will be swept into the dustbin of history.
Please see these related articles:
On parenting and dicipline.
Regarding the critical inportance of family life.
And, on art education in the digital world.
Alexandra York is an author and founding president of the American Renaissance for the Twenty-first Century (ART) a New-York-City-based nonprofit educational arts and culture foundation. She has written for many publications, including "Reader’s Digest" and The New York Times. Her latest book is "The Innocent." For more on Alexandra York, Go Here Now.
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