Angels and Assholes #26...2016 - Occam's Razor and Education

As I mentioned last time, education is out-moded, has stopped evolving to fit the needs of our current cultures, societies, countries. It’s difficult to prioritize the problems that need fixing in America and the world. It’s pretty obvious Occam would tell us: we have to take care of our planet and each other...neither of which we are doing a very good job of. We have to change our value system and question just what should be our priorities. That starts almost immediately at birth. That’s where education starts. 

If I were given the task of creating the most ineffective way to educate people, I’d say, first… let’s ignore them, not do anything to prepare them, until they’re four or five, especially if they have no decent parental role model or a caring adult in their lives. That way we’ll limit as much as possible the number of students who have a chance to succeed. Then let’s cram a whole bunch of them inside a building, with maybe 20, 30, or even 40 to a room where they have to sit still and shut up. And keep em there for twelve or thirteen years, teach em all the same shit regardless of their interests, aptitude, or innate abilities. Show little regard if some are bored, some made to feel stupid (all those that feel stupid will really have fun and be motivated); aim for the muddling middle…where nobody really is. And then tell all these students that they won’t find happiness unless they get a college degree…when only 1 in 3 even meet the College Boards benchmark on the SAT’s (“The War on Stupid People,” The Atlantic, July/ Aug 2016). Could this be the cause of 32% of American men over the age of 20 who are, by choice, not even looking for work, but basically “living off the toil or bounty of others.” (George Will, Washington Post, Oct 7, 2016.) A lot of vague, inappropriate, and esoteric educations and degrees…but nothing to do with them?

Educational leaders realize that education needs to evolve, but they lack the funding. Some schools have managed to fund “gifted” programs where teachers can focus on academics. Most schools have Special Ed programs for learning disabled students. Some schools even have Early Childhood Education Programs which exist primarily for the students with learning disabilities. (Of course these are the first programs to get cut.) This is all good…but it’s obviously just not enough. Some organizations, such as Head Start, have been wise enough to realize, with schools not having the funding to do what’s needed, that they need to reach some students by two or three…actually earlier if the child is in a “toxic” environment and it’s only time before they become toxic themselves.

Of course money, which flows freely toward ridiculous and superfluous things (think the latest campaign and election), is not being utilized for our greatest NEED. Not providing the funding to educate people properly, in my and Occam’s meager estimation, is the biggest mistake our society, our country, the world makes…the greatest hindrance to peace in the U.S. and the world. To people simply getting along with each other.

So the Razor would arrive at: if education can’t evolve because it doesn’t have funding, then—bottom-line—we, the world, has to spend more money on education. Not to do so is not only a-hole, stupid, and short-sighted, but suicide, a slow global genocide.

Next blog: besides subject matter…even more importantly…should we not be teaching compassion, tolerance, honesty, empathy, unselfishness? Early, while they’re still open-minded and not hopelessly narcissistic and biased. This was expected to be accomplished by parents, and, of course it is by some, but, if you can read, you know it’s largely NOT. We need our young people, whose values are shaped early in their lives, to be educated and reverse what seems to be a trend of divisiveness. 

A nice thought you may have seen: “We need to care less about whether our children are academically gifted and more about whether they sit with the lonely kid in the cafeteria.”