Obama on Education Reform: More of the Same Insanity

27 September 2010 Categories: Blog

My 16 year old unschooled son and I watched TODAYshow’s Matt Lauer interview President Barrack Obama on education reform this morning. It was a frustrating and depressing scene to watch, as the President inadvertently outlined the problem- that American children’s performance in math and science has declined sharply in one generation- but he was unable to make the connection that the decline occurred during the time when public schools became increasingly standardized!

In the 1990’s and 2000’s, high stakes standardized testing, teaching-to-the-test,  increased homework and policies of homework for all grade levels (including for children as young as preschool) became the law of the land. Schools began to slash hands-on learning, recess, movement, outdoor free time, play, art, music, fun activities and field trips, further causing distress and trauma to the bodies and the psychological, creative and intellectual well being of public school children. With this frantic teach-to-the-test mentality of schools, these deprivations of childhood joy needed to become standardized practice in order to corral and indoctrinate millions of children into one cookie-cutter system, with results that guaranteed the failure and mediocrity of the many. These deprivations would quickly come to include the abuse of children’s bio and neurochemisty as well.

The public school system was soon faced with an increase in natural alarm signals in children that resulted from the school’s developmentally inappropriate curriculum: Hyperactivity, lack of focus, inability to learn, lack of attention to the tasks at hand, defiance, aggression, depression, violence, inability to keep oneself still and immobile for six hours per day and then for another three hours of homework. Schools partnered up with Big Pharma to come up with a solution: Mass labeling of American public school children as “learning disabled”, “mentally ill”  or brain deficient. This of course lead to subsequent chemical alteration of their brains to induce docility and conformity.  Since the early 1990’s there has been a 700% increase in the use of just stimulant drugs alone on children!

Interestingly, according to Newsweek’s “Creativity in America” issue (July 19, 2010), China, who once employed the strictest of measures of their public schooled children, has instituted mass reforms to “extinguish the drill-and-kill teaching style”. According to the article, China is currently “adopting a problem-based learning approach”. The article quips, “When a faculty of a major Chinese University asked [American professor Jonathan] Plucker to identify trends in American education, he described our focus on standardized curriculum, rote memorization, and nationalized testing. “After my  answer was translated, they just started laughing out loud,” Plucker says. “They said, ‘You’re racing toward our old model. But we’re racing toward your [old] model, as fast as we can.'””

Apparently, President Obama is not aware of that. Apparently, he is unaware that in many of the countries that have surpassed American public school children’s performance, they are doing the opposite  of what Obama proposes. Some of these countries have shorter school years, shorter classes, more play and outdoor time. President Obama must equally be unaware of the decades of learning theory by Howard Gardner and many others who have found that humans have seven different, equally important forms of intelligence. Public schools only validate and consider two of these intelligences to be worthwhile, namely, Logical-Mathematical and Verbal-Linguistic. The other intelligences, mainly dealing with the arts, the body, socialization and the mind, are considered to be “hobbies” or “skills” rather than equally credible,  “academic” intelligences.

Researchers of learning theory are also aware that people learn through one or a combination  of three channels: Kinesthetic, Visual and Auditory. Schools mainly teach using the auditory style, lecturing to a group of passive hostages, with little to no interactive dialogue, hands-on imitation or exploration. People who are wired to learn with their hands and bodies or with a combination of watching, reading and doing are labeled as mentally ill, learning disabled or as having “attention deficits”! No wonder we are plummeting in comparison to other countries- Our schools are rendering us all mentally ill!

Albert Einstein stated that test-based “education” destroys the natural learning process rather than helps it:  “One had to cram all this stuff into one’s mind for the examinations, whether one liked it or not. This coercion had such a deterring effect on me that, after I had passed the final examination, I found the consideration of any scientific problems distasteful to me for an entire year.” He also stated, “Imagination is more important than knowledge”, yet imagination and creativity are all but strangled out of children by the time they end their public school prison sentences.

In 1983, the Reagan administration’s A Nation at Risk report set in motion this nightmare of standardizing an already hostage-based education system into what the youngest generation is suffering now. In 2001, George W. Bush dealt the final blow to children’s play and freedom with his “No Child Left Behind” act. Now Obama’s “been-there-done-that” education “reform” will recycle more of the same. This waste of millions of childhoods reminds me of another of Einstein’s famous quotes: “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

2 Responses to “Obama on Education Reform: More of the Same Insanity”

  1. Franklin 4 April 2011 at 5:48 am (PERMALINK)

    During my time in school I often heard, “If you fail school, you fail life”. Graduating from high school and entering the real-world, proved this statement to be untrue to me.

    Schools are not teaching the right things. They overemphasize theory instead of the skills you need in order to survive in the real-world such as: managing money, interpersonal skills, and employment techniques. 99% of what I learned in school doesn’t pertain to the real-world.

    In the real-world nobody really cares about how you did in school. Employers don’t check your grade point average. (If they did, you probably don’t want to be working with them).

    There is no correlation between success in school and success in life. There are people that dropped out of high school and became successful and their are people with master’s degrees that cannot find jobs. The people that suceed in life would have done so regardless of whether or not they attended school.

    An example I can use is the education system in China. Children start life trying to earn the top grades. By the time they graduate they discover that most of what they did in school is irrelevant to the real-world. They don’t know how to function besides taking tests. So many adults in China are complaining about this.

    Assigning more homework to children and demanding more standards is not the solution to make them a more productive member of society.

    Author
    • Laurie A. Couture 29 April 2011 at 1:56 pm (PERMALINK)

      Franklin,

      I agree fully. It is sad that when most people get out of traditional school they often have been so stripped of their passions and the innate path that they were to actualize that they have no idea what they want to do or what their purpose is in life. Causing this dulled down apathy was the purpose of schooling in 1850, to quell and suffocate creativity, passion and critical thinking in the population in order to create obedient factory workers, miners and soldiers. So many of the youth I have worked with do not have any idea what they like or want once they reach 18. Forced schooling is a human tragedy and a human rights violation to the highest degree. I hope all youth can get their hands on Grace Llewellyn’s epic book, “The Teenage Liberation Handbook” while there is still some childhood to salvage!

      Laurie

      Author

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