When I crashed on my bicycle in Taiwan few years ago, I broke my face in 4 places, but I couldn’t convince the emergency room staff to even look at my face because they saw some skin abrasions on my shoulder and knee. My face looked fine on the outside. My face wasn’t even in any pain, because a nerve was pinched by the broken bones. It wouldn’t even discolor with some bruising until later, but I knew that I couldn’t open my mouth.
Even though the whole left side of my body had smashed into the pavement, I had taken the brunt of the impact on my face. I had seen what I think are referred to as “stars” and my nose had gushed blood onto the pavement. It had been a matter of self-preservation to walk out of the path of oncoming cyclists, so I knew I could move all other body parts. However, all of those body parts were going to suffer significantly over time if I couldn’t open my mouth more than 1/4 of an inch. If only I could convince someone to adequately evaluate my jaw…
That is how I feel about all the concern about common core curriculum. It is an abrasion, a minor issue in the education of children, when the real problems with education are, like my mouth, much more vital and being ignored. The minds and spirits of children are being systematically numbed and broken by a system that greatly inhibits their ability to learn about and enjoy life.
There is a stranglehold on the concept of education, such that the people who have somehow gained the power to define it are also squeezing the life out of it. I’m not talking about teachers, but the governmental bureaucracy that tyrannically oversees education, no matter who endeavors to provide it to the children. The majority of parents have been cowed into believing there are experts who know best how to educate their children. They have been misled to believe that certain things qualify as and are necessary for education to be valid. The system has demeaned much useful knowledge and skills to prop up it’s own validity.
Too many of us have come to accept that there needs to be an educational system, and that the only way to fix how our children are educated is to fix that system. I submit that there not only does there not need to be such a system (anymore than there needs to be a system to teach our children how to walk), but that true education happens best in real life, in a much more individual and lively situation than can ever be achieved in a classroom setting.
The classroom forever tries to mimic real life, all the while posturing as the superior model for learning. Does anyone else see the irony in that? There are calls for home economics or gardening or physical education, which all have to be manufactured, because they cannot happen naturally in the educational system.
As for the so-called subjects of higher learning, like algebra or sciences or history, those classes are also a subtle mix of governmental propaganda and questionable usefulness. Too often, the students are not taught to evaluate information, but to accept what they are told. Even with something as apparently as straightforward as math, the attitude is rarely one of discovery and real long term utility. The student is just supposed to learn, because it has been decided that is what “real” education consists of.
This doesn’t even address the time that is wasted for students as they attend to the requirements of the bureaucracy. Test taking because the system requires it. Specific “studying” to prepare for tests. Roll call and mandated study hall. Homework even though hours are spent in classrooms. Rallies for “school spirit.” We have been trained to see school social interactions as memorable, but what it really is is forced camaraderie, as well as segregation from all of the normal social interaction in the real fabric of life. In a word, schools are fake.
To put it another way, if learning happens in an institutional system, it is in spite of it. People learn things wherever they are, but that does not mean it is because the situation is a desirable learning opportunity. People adapt to what is available as best they can. So it is with children in institutional settings.
Some of them do their best to learn what they can. Some teachers are trying to do a good job. But many children are exhausted and discouraged by the long hours. They are deprived of truly experiencing the world outside the walls of their prisons. They are medicated when all they long to do is breathe the fresh air and stretch their legs. If they comply they are rewarded for “good behavior.” If they don’t, they are called disrespectful and troublemakers. It’s like locking a puppy up in a small kennel most of the day, then being concerned when it runs crazy when it can’t stand it anymore.
Governments around the world control of the process of so-called education. They mandate long hours of separation from family under the guise of it being necessary for adequate education. And somehow many parents acquiesce, giving up precious time to know their children. These parents give up the role of truly overseeing their children’s training and preparation for real life. Any who try to take back this role are somehow viewed as potential child abusers. Why is the government never viewed as stealing the children? It is forced servitude, taking them to be trained in a way an overlord has decided.
So, I’m not concerned about common core curriculum. I’m concerned about how people think about education in the first place. I’m concerned that parents are told to place their children in government regulated system for hours every day. I’m concerned that those with governmental power force their ideas of education on helpless children, stifling their creativity and joy in life.
I finally got the doctors in the emergency room to notice that my face was broken. In all their expertise, they couldn’t tell what I needed nearly as well as I could. Then, I used their expertise only as much as needed, with careful consideration of the options that different doctors suggested. (One wanted to peel back my lower eyelid and put in a metal face plate. I found a different doctor.) After a few weeks, I could continue a life of eating real food. I don’t have to go back and ask them what to eat or if my jaw works.
I have seen children learn outside of the system, and, in spite of government rumors to the contrary, it works very well. I wish such freedom in learning was more common.