September 01, 2010

The Problem with Education, a Mini-Rant: Or, the Gettysburg Casino

This will be quick, as Linc and I are busy filling cups with things, dumping them out, and then refilling them. It's a busy day.

Several things have happened recently in my reading/viewing/listening that have made me mad at America, education in America, and Americans in general, which may be a bit harsh.

Item One: There are plans to put a casino near the Gettysburg battlefield, where 50,000 Americans died in three days. Some people support it, because it will provide jobs. One opponent made the excellent argument that we would not appreciate it if France put a casino at Normandy. However, how many people really know what happened at Gettysburg, other than Lincoln's address? When I taught it two years, I only had two HS freshman who could accurately tell me what year the Civil War took place in--two out of 140.

Item Two: Every single one of our current supreme court justices was educated at an Ivy League school. This makes me angry, because after reading up/watching up on the Nuremberg trials this summer, I know that Robert Jackson, the US Supreme Court Justice who prosecuted the trials, did not attend college. He read law, and apprenticed, much as Abraham Lincoln did. We don't do that any more. Education in the United States is too strictly regulated. We don't approach learning as its own joy and glory, but merely as a means to make more money.

Item Three: Colorado and other states keep working to get rid of "bad" teachers in order to improve education. I know that there are bad teachers, but do you turn on the radio every day to hear about the country getting rid of "bad" graphic designers, bankers, ranchers, doctors? No. Maybe we need to really consider how to help teachers be good, like class size. As many states cut education budgets drastically, though, this is likely not to happen. I firmly believe that if every classroom had less than 20 students (aside from band/choir and other specialty things), education would improve.

My biggest goal for my son is to teach him that learning and curiosity are a constant joy. Samuel Johnson said that he who is tired of London is tired of life, but I would say he who is tired of learning is tired of life. I guess my son will also learn that mama likes to rant.


The Coach said...

I heard the same NPR story on the Gettysburg Casino. I was shocked (as I always am) when people say that the increased tax revenue will help the community. What? The increased tax revenue will come out of the pockets of the people who need it most. Why do we pretend that a casino will create money in a community when what it does is drain the life out of a place by sucking it dry?

And class size is a huge deal!

Aunt Suz said...

Well written, Amanda; I agree. Little late in commenting; catching up after the Michigan trip.