Thursday, March 22, 2012

Slavery based system of education

After all these years it has become abundantly clear that education in this country has become successful beyond all expectations.  Let's go back in history for a better understanding.  In the late 18th century Thomas Jefferson developed the structural design for what is now the system of education.  He stated the purpose quite clearly.  "Raking a few geniuses from the rubbish".  Developed during slavery, in their minds some children didn't rise to the level of rubbish.  Under that system, the "geniuses" went to college and the rest worked the jobs of their parents.  Those jobs could be anything from a blacksmith to a slave.  And for that we are proud?  I don't think so.  

Eventually slavery was abolished which simply meant that those in power would have to find creative ways to keep a people down.  This effort, in education, was successful until the early1900's when the "Gary plan" was developed.  This plan attempted to divert from the slavery philosophy by allowing more diversity and more hands on learning.  As this began to show success around the country, it was inevitable that it had to be stopped.  The concept of everyone learning was scarry to those in power. The thought of leaving slavery behind was intolerable.  Around 1920 the mayor of New York City quashed any hopes of fairness and reverted to the original basic philosophy eventually adding the standardized style of testing to assure the upper class was well protected.

As time marched on, more and more young people were enrolled in mainstream education.  In the 60's integration added students while in the 70's special education laws made it possible for a whole new group of students to be serviced.  And eventually the No Child Left Behind act was passed.  For the first time in the history of this country, we finally had thoughts about serving all children.  Think about it, never before have we made an effort to serve all.  However, there was a small problem.  We tried to serve all in a system that was never designed for that purpose.  Adding the artificial test as the main component, it was a disaster.  Although many changes in the school population had occured, the only thing that remained the same was the slavery based education system.  (SBES)

The SBES had many problems but most notable were two.  First, students were taught in a singular, teach to the test manner, to assure the "book learned" students would thrive.  Unlike the Gary plan, making learning real was not acceptable.  And second, again to assure success for the "book learned" students, it was mandated that every student learn at the same time the test was given.  No consideration was given to the reality that students blossom at different times.  We never know when genius will unfold so an effort was made to push students out of school, with an archaic failure system, before they had a chance to show their real talents.  This is not only unethical, it is immoral.

But how do we push kids out of school?  Conventional wisdom holds the high stakes test responsible for student failure.  However, throughout most states that test is merely used to fail schools and teachers.  The reality is that kids are not retained in 5th grade because of the test.  The test is actually meaningless in most states.  Then why are so many pushed out of school?  They are pushed out by the Slavery Based Education System and here's how it's done.  Kids who blossom slower fail the chapter tests.  Upon failing those tests, they move on to the next unit without gaining needed knowledge.  This continues until they finish the year and are failed back to the begtinning only to start over again.  When they get far enough behind, they give up and are pushed out of school.  And to resolve this, many just pushed kids forward with a D-,  This is even worse because children graduate with no usable knowledge.

Who blossoms slower and why?  Kids who have roadblocks put in the way of learning are often the victims. Children aflicted with childhood stress, for example, have brains that literally work slower and therefore are slower learning  This leads to failure, which leads to no high school diploma which leads to families struggling to survive..  So kids are pushed out by inconsistant letter grades, inflexible time lines artificial learning into a non ending cycle that is seldom broken.    

The results of the current education system leaves no doubt that the SBES philosophy has not only continued but has flourished.  And how do we respond to this in the 21st century?  When we talk about students being proficient, we are not talking about scoring on a range of a standardized test, we are talking about every one being "proficient" at the same time the test is given.  Every child must be in robotic sameness or they are made to feel stupid.  Here's a news flash, simply because students blossom later does not mean they are stupid.  Never again should we treat children in that manner.

In todays education we chase our tails trying to fit all students into a standardized box full of word games and math riddles.  And we wonder why we fail students.  But wait a minute.  We fail students but we don't fail the original purpose of education.  We have succeeded in raking a few geniuses from the "rubbish" and throwing the "rubbish" out into the street.  And for that we are proud?  Kids are not rubbish and it's time we quit  treating them as such.