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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Problem Inherent in the School System


Think for a moment about why you work for a living—assuming of course that you do in fact work for a living—or have in the past. We do it for the money. We don't do it for the pride of a job well done. We don't do it for pats on the back, commendations, awards, accolades, or even 'we're proud of you's. If we did what we do for any of those reasons it would be either because we were so well off that we didn't need any money but instead seeking some kind of purpose, or because it's a hobby that we enjoy doing anyway. Work is hard. It's at times difficult, confusing, exasperating, stress-causing, wearying, and—quite often—thankless. We work for the money.

I just finished reading a well-written and entertaining post called: A Conservative Cure for Sick Schools. I disagree with the main premise, however:
In the final analysis, if neither students nor their parents truly value education to the point of redirecting their powers of intention, then changing schools will not be enough. While a voucher system would help some families, to a greater extent it would devolve into funding underperforming schools that offer kickbacks to politicians.

The top performance of private schools has been spurred by the self-fulfilling prophecy of parents willing to seek out better schools for their children. They also have a financial stake in their children making the most of that experience. Families without that mindset and personal investment are unlikely to see similar results.
What is the greatest problem inherent in the health care industry? Third party payment. People who pay for health insurance and never use it feel as though they're being cheated. I know because that was me. Then I got married, had children and suddenly...far from being cheated, it was me doing the cheating. Wives are sometimes expensive but children are back-breakers, and never more so than when it comes to health care. At some point you'd think the insurance companies would start to complain. Hey, do you really need to take your kid to the doctor again? Give him a couple of aspirin and don't call the doctor in the morning!

So you pay for your precious child to go to a private school. Because you pay so much, you expect your child to excel. You expect him or her to internalize your own goals. Since you're investing in your child, you expect little darling to step-up his game, take on school work with the seriousness and diligence with which you approach your own labors at work. In short you expect this child to do what you would do in his place. Don't you think that's a little bit naïve? Your child isn't paying for school, you are. Do you care how much your insurance company pays your doctor, or do you only care about how much you pay your insurance company? The goals of the third party are in most cases completely irrelevant to the first and second party.

I may be approaching fifty but I still vividly remember what I wanted as a kid: To have fun. I still remember what I hated: being bored. Fun and boredom are heads and tails of the same coin, what we call life. As a kid, life is sometimes fun, sometimes boring. Usually children haven't experienced the hard, bitter, life-changing events that cause each of us at some point to grow up. The other thing to remember is that some kids are clingers and some are loners. A child that constantly seeks parental approval would probably do quite well at any school he or she attended. Meanwhile a loner finds meaning often in choosing a path at times diametrically opposite to the desires of parents and society. That was me by the way.

I didn't care—and having never worked for a living, didn't understand—what it cost my parents to send me to a private school. I knew what I wanted ... fun and what I hated ... boredom, and so pats on the back, approbation, and 'proud of you's were meaningless, shallow, and non-rewarding. My parents were the third party payers in this instance. I didn't care what it cost them, only what it cost me ... my freedom, my time, my life ... wasted as hours and days and months went by, enduring unendurable boredom. Facts that were seemingly of vital importance to these sour and sober lecturers were absolutely meaningless to me. To get an idea of my viewpoint back then, imagine if you found yourself imprisoned in a classroom and forced to learn the intricacies of three seasons of MTV's Teen Wolf. It was torture! Not the turning of the rack kind, but the slow and inescapable dripping of drop after drop of water hitting the same spot on the forehead for hours and days and months kind!

So let me ask this one question in unequivocal terms and then you tell me the answer: When it comes to performance in school, what's in it for the children? Pats on the back? 'We're proud of you's? Nobody has asked that question. Nobody has answered that question. Society ignores it. If forced to answer the response would sound like this: "It will rub the knowledge into its mind, or it will get the hose!"

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