I'm working on a post for my other blog and I'd like your honest opinions! This is the second draft.
Here's the Situation
Something absolutely disgusts me and so I will share my hotheaded, passionate, strong-worded opinion with you about the school system in America.
The school system sucks. We send our kids across town or into the next to attend a school where the hormones way outnumber the adults, and the adults have very little power because we don't trust them because we don't know them and they don't know us. And it would be a liability for them to do anything about anything.
I know quite a few people who want to be teachers and I know they would never knowingly let a child be bullied or kill themselves. But these are big schools, and what can the teachers do if they do know? They don't have a lot of power. The least they can do, you hope, is to tell the parents what is going on, and sometimes that doesn't even happen.
And what can the parents do?
Well here is where it gets ugly. Parents knowingly send their children to school, day after day, to be bullied and sexually harassed. I mourn the loss of children who take their lives and only after do the parents find out that bullying was involved. That's a horrible family structure but it moves me to compassion, given the general rushing about and distraction in our modern, first-world country. But when I hear the testimony of some mother who knows her little girl is being harassed or knew the whole time that school was a living hell for her son and sent them off every day anyway... I feel disgust and revulsion. How in the world can a parent tell a child that they just have to put up with this behavior? That there is nothing anyone can do about this and no one cares that your life is driving you to an early death?
I sympathize - this is a tough world, a tough culture we live in and we're all stressing out to stay ahead. But if you can't tighten your belts to send them to another school or take them out and homeschool, you best at the very least be raising Cain about it and keeping your child away from that mess, one way or another.
We are very protective of our children. That is to say - we love griping about injustices done them. We have way too many tests now in school. The teacher doesn't care at all. The school is forcing my child to do this, but they won't take care of the bullying. The ref made a bad call! My four-year-old wants to be a girl but people have the nerve to tell me I shouldn't let him! He'll only be vaccinated if I say so! I have a right to have children any way I want, in whatever relationship I want! Don't force labels on my kids! Don't leave them home alone! Don't have guns in the house! They should have taught them that at school! What's the matter with them, leaving my child unprotected and ignorant like that? No shampoo in my baby's eyes! Only the most organic, healthy food for my children. No more soda at school!
But when it comes to action, we're pathetic. When it comes to caring what is actually best for the children, we're selfish and stupid.
These days, children are future politicians. We need to indoctrinate them with a politically correct education (no offense if that's you, but really, how long has Christopher Columbus been a hero?) and measure their intellectual growth and make sure it's alllllll the same everywhere so we can force "equality" (intellectual sameness) across the nation. They need to accumulate as many certificates and diplomas and awards and stats as possible so that their resume is more impressive, regardless of their actual skill or ability to function in society and the workplace.
Scholarship is numbers. Skill is book learning.
But There's a Problem
John Oliver, who is a favorite of mine, recently commented on how the obsession with testing is affecting our children. At least, how it is affecting them in ways we can immediately see. He didn't, I'll note, mention how it's affecting their love of learning or their psychology. But it's too early to know everything. Perhaps we should experiment with them for a few more years.
This past Sunday, John Oliver did a segment on FIFA - oh how glorious an overhaul that is turning out to be! (Not actually sarcasm this time.) He challenged the sponsors of FIFA to take a stand, promising that he would even drink a Budweiser product if they withdrew their sponsorship.
In the past, John Oliver has instigated ridiculous and funny social media movements with various effectiveness and varying degrees of actual importance. He launched a campaign to save mating geckos lost in space. He started a movement to protest the casting of Christian in Fifty Shades of Gray. #NotMyChristian
But when it comes to children, he did nothing.
Well, we are all more aware of what we should have known in the first place, but where is the great emotional uproar? Where are the ice bucket challenges and dares and matched pledges to get this crap under control? Where is the call to action?
Well, "to be fair," many of John Oliver's calls to action have been jokes or for something that is easily changed. Bullying, educational requirements, smaller class sizes, actively aware parents - it can't be done with a catchy hashtag. And my point isn't to accuse John Oliver of not caring enough about children. That's not he point - the point is how complicated and difficult a problem this is and we're not spending nearly enough time on it as a whole. These are, if you will, the future politicians. You can't not care, even if you're not sparked by the injustice of torturing young and immature people who don't have a choice but will be affected by this for the rest of their lives, then affecting the next generation and so on.
And We Need a Solution
For me, personally, I have a vague idea of what I want. I want way smaller schools, and more of them - in the communities that they serve. Perhaps one large facility of expensive equipment for the area. I want tutors/teachers to teach students by studying the greats as well as new theories, where contrary schools of thought are allowed and not feared so thinking can flourish, and the arts are included. I want the work environment to adopt a learn-on-the-job environment, an experienced-based totem pole, rather than a "how many diplomas and qualifications can you pay for?" system. And I want universities to be more about fulfilling the student's needs than handing out the diplomas and qualifications, and certainly not about bringing in money to compete with other schools. If it's not about the students, what is it about?
I'm not an expert; I just know this system is not ideal for me. It doesn't seem ideal for anybody. And if someone can prove that my vision couldn't work, at least I'll have gotten someone thinking more about this issue. Because I'm not qualified to say what needs to be done and I don't have the power to do it, but what we need is a decision about what ought to be done so that people like John Oliver and you and me can actually do something about it: #notmyeducationsystem
We can't just complain. We have to decide what we want done and push for it.