Our school districts have been under fire for many years now, namely because we are failing at teaching our kids, especially when compared to other countries. The STEM model (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) has been in vogue lately, to try to catch our students up to the students in countries such as China, Japan, and South Korea, whose students have traditionally been strong in the STEM disciplines. In the United States, where most high school students know more about Michael Moore than they do about Moore’s Law , this is certainly a lofty goal.
Now, we have already implemented one of the key methods of Chinese education: learning by rote repetition. Despite this being a method of improving memory more than actual comprehension (and which has been increasingly discounted by many prominent educators because it doesn’t allow for critical thinking skills), this method has been used by school districts who are bound to increasingly inflexible curriculums that are reliant on state and federal testing in order to receive state and federal funding.
But…a school district in Colorado has now figured out the OTHER great Chinese method: teach our naive kids exactly what WE feel they need to know. In true communist (or fascist) fashion, the Jefferson County school district in Colorado is now proposing the educational emphasis on the “good” parts of U.S. history, while de-emphasizing all the inconvienient truths that have helped to shape our nation.
Julie Williams, a recently elected Jefferson County school board member, proposed the district’s review of history, stating that she hoped for a greater emphasis on the “positive aspects” of the country, including patriotism, respect for authority and a free-market economy. She also asked that teachers avoid material that would encourage “civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law.”
If this sounds good to you, keep in mind that countries like China already do this. In fact, they dedicate a considerable amount of time in
worshipping studying the Communist ideal, while completely ignoring such things as the Tiananmen Square massacre and the continued persecution of Tibet.
The U.S. was built on civil disobedience. If it wasn’t for civil disobedience, we would still potentially have no rights for our working class, for voters, for minorities, for women, and other protections that we now take for granted. Introducing curriculum like this would create a slippery slope that is alternately ridiculous and frightening. What would be next for Jefferson County? Refusing to recognize Martin Luther King Jr. Day (a federal holiday), because he was known for civil disobedience?
Luckily, the student body of the Jefferson County school district (and, apparently, a lot of the staff) have protested this, even skipping school in order to protest. The younger generation gets marginalized and bad-mouthed so much nowadays, but let’s face it: with the cost of higher education skyrocketing as well as the overall cost of living, you can’t blame them for being jaded and disenfranchised. Our future generation simply will not have the same opportunities that the older generation had, due to the level of greed of the major corporations and Wall Street, and the baby boomer generation who took advantage of all the opportunities that they were given without giving the same opportunities to their children and grandchildren. Sure, college is still an option, except it costs over 700% more to go to college than it did in the 1980’s. And there are no guaranteed jobs once you do get that degree, but there will be probably be a massive amount of student loan debt.
So why make our educational system worse than it already is? Our kids don’t need clueless and self-serving school boards butting in with their own ideological curriculums, we don’t need prayer in school (remember the First Amendment and the Supreme Court’s various rulings on the separation of church and state? I remember being taught it!), and we don’t need bloated school administrations who can’t even do their own jobs without having to hire outside consultants to hold their collective hands.
And we sure as hell don’t need to be like China. Our kids are unique, and this nation of ours was built on a combination of a determined working class, and an enlightened creative class that introduced many innovations. We also have had many bad chapters in our history (the way we treated/still treat the Native Americans; MKULTRA and other federally sanctioned human experimentation; the history of slavery and indentured servitude of Africans, Asians, and European immigrants; etc.) and it is just as important, if not more so, that our children learn about these things too.
“Those who do not remember the past, are doomed to repeat it.” -George Santayana