An Assembly Line Education: The American Educational System
By: Tina Pabon
After nine months of carrying and forming a human being inside your womb and then forcing it out into the world, parents say to themselves “Ok you are here now, what do we do?” Children come with no instruction manual, Website, or 800 numbers. How are we supposed to know what is best for this new life? You get advice from everyone along the way, your parents, his parents, doctors and friends. Most of the time you ignore the nagging voice in your head that says, “That can’t be right, it doesn’t feel right.” I mean really what do you know?
Time flies by and before you know it your little blessing is now 3 and then it starts, “Are you sending him to preschool this year.” Your mind starts to race, “Oh gee, I hadn’t thought of it, he is so little still, but what if I don’t, will it scar him for life? How could I forgive myself! I better do what they tell me.” And you do, you buckle to the pressure of, your parents, his parents, doctors and friends. I mean really, they do need socialized, right? They do need educated, right? You are totally incapable of educating a 3 or 4 year old. How could you even possibly think that you are qualified to do that?
Soon the baby teeth start to fall out one by one and the crisp fall air is on its way. Your baby will go to school all day now. Kindergarten is so vital to their educational upbringing, isn’t it? Aunt Sally and Uncle Jim assure you this is the best thing for little Sue. Socialization is still very important for her growth. She needs to learn how to take direction, follow the rules, and there are certain milestones that she must hit, along with her other classmates. This of course goes on into middle school and then high school.
We all know that humans are individuals, each its own mold that is broken after birth. No one will ever be you. You may share similar interest with someone or maybe your brother and you both have brown hair but you are you. The DNA you carry is yours never to be copied. Yet the American school system is designed with one child in mind, one goal in mind, and only one way to get that child to that goal. Your school has a curriculum. If you do not know what the word curriculum is, Webster’s dictionary defines it as, the courses offered by an educational institution. That curriculum has been determined by a group of strangers who have never met your child. They know nothing of how he or she learns. What his or her strengths or weaknesses are. Would they know that your 8 year old loves to draw sky scrapers, or that you’re 13 year old is a poet? Of course not, yet they have the power to determine what courses your child will be given for her entire educational career.
Some of us have kids who are, what they call “hands on learners”. I have a couple of those and I can read something over and over again to my sons and unless they experience it they will never learn it. Leet's put my 10 year old son in a science class at your average local public school? The teacher tells everyone to please get in their seats. “Be quiet” she yells to them. The children scatter into their seats and do as told, become silent. Miss So’n’So begins reading Chapter 3 which is discussing plant life. She pulls up her power point and the children see a photo of a leaf. The teacher goes into detail about the parts of a leaf, the guard cells, the phloem, the stoma, etc. Then her power point goes on to tell the kids how the leaves and roots work together. By this time my son is ready to stand on his head. He looks out the window and sees lots of trees with leaves on them, and flowers in bloom. He wants to pull those plants apart and stick them under a microscope. My son wants to pull out the roots and examine them. Miss So’n’So has a better idea, “Get out your workbooks.” I can hear him moaning now! Don’t get me wrong there is a time and a place for workbooks, if that is how a child learns best. Then the teacher lists vocabulary words that they must write down and then define each of them. This same method of teaching that will continue at the same pace, regardless of your child’s needs, for the next 6 hours. For children like mine it isn’t learning, its torture.
There are teachers out there who do get creative but they do have to stay within their curriculum. If by November the class as to be at point A and your daughter is not, she gets left behind. This is when the school decides your child has a disability. Something is wrong with your child not their system. It is the square peg being forced into the hole over and over again. When your child is not following the rules of the game, they sit her on the side lines with the rest of the “Learning Support” kids and now you have a child with a label because she couldn’t keep up in the game that group of strangers created for her. More now than ever, the talk over the water cooler is whose child has what. ADHD is the most common of them all. What are the signs of ADHD? Well for one a short attention span, and then there is being impulsive and hyperactive. Now let’s look at the definition of boredom, again from the wonderful Webster’s dictionary, it says that boredom is the state of being weary and restless through lack of interest. A child who is impulsive, hyper, and has a short attention span could very well be board not suffering from a disorder. Could have all this disorder hysteria be a rouse created by the public educational system? According to the The National Center for Educational Statistics there were 540,382 public school students who dropped out of grades 9–12 in school year 2004–05 in the 50 states.1 Of the states that reported dropout data for school year 2004–05, California, New York, and Texas had the highest number of grade 9–12 dropouts, with more than 43,000 dropouts each. Does this tell you that there might be a problem in our educational system and not with our children?
When we are in school it is the only time in our life when we will be around people of our own age and only our own age. When you go to work do they only have you work with the other 35 year olds? Of course not that would be silly. Why is it ok with children? Children can learn so much from older peers, siblings, adults, and situations that they would never have in a brick and morter school. You sit them in a hot classroom, with 30 other kids their age, with one or maybe two adults standing at the head of the room. The children are not allow to talk to the person next to them, they may not just leave to use the rest room, they may not eat if they are hungry, and can you imagine if a child tried to take a nap during class? How is this a productive environment for children to learn in?
Schools are institutions that have a set of rules that have been designed around an average student. Children are not a prototype and most of them are not average. Children are individuals, each with their strengths, weaknesses, needs, wants, and dreams. If a child is not given an environment where they are free to think, free to create, free to move, free to have dissent, free to debate, and the freedom to be themselves, then they will never learn. All they will do is regurgitate the information that this institutionalize education has forced on them and join the assembly line nation that our government is creating for us.