Monday, November 28, 2005

Dare we ask what education is for?

As I've said before (maybe not here, but I have said this before), free public education was instituted by the founding fathers because a literate populace is necessary for a democracy to work effectively. In the 21st century, voters need to be able to read, understand basic mathematical concepts (which should include knowledge of statistics so we can properly interpret opinion polls) and understand how our government works and America's place in the world in order to make good decisions about who should lead us. This translates into reading/English, math, civics/government and social studies/foreign language. Yet, in the public schools, these basic educational needs are being pushed aside for "mulitculturalism", which should contribute to social studies but in practice does not impart any meaningful information, "emotional literacy," "self esteem", sex education, "stranger danger", "character education" and "drug abuse resistance education."

Drug Abuse Resistance Education is the DARE program, run by the police department to program 5th and 6th graders to "just say No" when they are offered drugs, tobacco or alcohol. At the end, they are required to write what I consider a straight regurgitation essay, i.e. there is only one answer, no critical thinking allowed.

The DARE program does not work. Study after study says DARE has no effect on graduates' alcohol, tobacco or other drug use, even nine months after the program ends. Chester will "graduate" from DARE next week--he's all excited about getting the t-shirt. So is this not a waste of valuable instructional time?

Teachers say "Emotional literacy" education, including anger management lessons, is not, nor should it be, the province of the public schools. Like building self-esteem and the other feel-good curricula I've mentioned above, it's the responsibility of the parents, not the schools, to teach. How can we complain about the way the schools are parenting our children (teaching or not teaching sex education and so forth) when we have abdicated the responsibility to parent them ourselves?

This goes back to the Kids Gone Wild post from yesterday, but it really ticks me off when parents complain that they're "too tired" or "don't know how" to parent their own children. Never mind the fact that if you can't or can't be bothered to parent your children, you shouldn't be having them in the first place. There they are, loving and needing you with every fiber of their little beings and what do you do? Ignore them under the guise of "allowing free expression" or "being their friend." Or schedule them into a million activities so you don't have to pay attention to them.

Here's the thing--they are children. They are new to this planet. They don't know how it works or how they're supposed to behave. It is your responsibility to teach them this, not the school's, not the teacher's, not the coach's, not the babysitter's. Yours. If they have problems or worries, they should come to you, not wait for "circle time" at school. You need to be aware of what is going on in their world and you need to tell them what you think about it and what they should do. You need to teach them how to play sports, how to solve conflicts and how to clean bathrooms. I understand this is unpolitic of me, but if you have to make major life changes in order to be available for your children, then do them. Live in a smaller town, a smaller house, get a smaller job. They know better than to interrupt you when you're busy.

Your children get older every single day. Every hour you say "Not now, later" is an hour of their childhood that you can't get back. If you are lucky, you have twenty years to teach your children how to be happy, productive citizens. If you live to be 80, that leaves you 60 years to focus on yourself and your needs. Don't let the village raise your child. They need you, Mom and Dad.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

And if you are actively involved with your children, provide them with access to many resources, fill your home with cool stuff, and take them to cool places near and far, then who needs school, anyhow??

The best of life is learned by living.