The Herald-Courier

Grassroots Logic: Education: progressing or regressing?

What is education, and just when does it begin? Is preschool or the early grades a child’s first education? If education is synonymous with “learning,” then I think it starts at birth. A newborn sees light, and hears sounds. Then there are sensations, some pleasant and some less so. In time, there are activities, rolling over, sitting up and crawling, then walking. All this time, the child hears voices and those become the language that the child will imitate. Even when family members are not speaking to the child, the child will absorb the sounds, thus the adults are unconsciously “teaching” this child. Then, when family members or day-care workers recite little fun word games or counting games, that is also education. In the old days, there were nursery rhymes and fairy tales that made early learning more enjoyable. Music was another way to widen a child’s education. My older brother once told me that he often rocked me and sang to me when I was small. Reading stories to young children also made them more interested in learning to read for themselves.

A very important part of a child’s training, from being able to dress themselves and do other “independent” things, they should learn to “help” other family members. Little chores “put the clean spoons in the drawer” or “please bring me an apple from the refrigerator.” A child should feel a part of the family’s daily duties, gradually having more responsible jobs. It teaches them initiative, confidence and self worth. Up until WWII when many children grew up on farms, there were many opportunities for the youngsters to help with various chores, both indoors and outdoors. Urban children, even then, could find neighborhood jobs such as gardening, lawn mowing and sidewalk shoveling in the winters. Those helpful occupations are fewer now, and times have changed.

Today’s students face different challenges. Cell phones have taken away teen imagination and a goal to secure a job past college life. Things that young people were once expected to do for themselves, are now performed for them. A passing grade in some schools has now been lowered to “help” disadvantaged teens. Even when I attended school, some boys would complain “I don’t plan to be a teacher, why do I need to read Shakespeare and poetry?” One of our teachers explained why a high grade in school was necessary. “If you were on an airplane, wouldn’t you want the pilot to be correct 100% of the time?” Just squeaking through with a 65% average doesnt give one much to be proud of, does it?

Today’s curriculum in many schools is very confusing and to many of us older adults, even dangerous. Instead of eliminating racism, it is inflating it. Instead of giving boys and girls confidence in country, family and our “normal” way of life (which has been accepted for many thousands of years) teachers and school boards are making the students confused and dissatisfied. At one time, teachers were respected citizens who taught the basics to help students attain a position in the community and a positive attitude. In other words, as the Constitution proclaims, “the pursuit of happiness.” Can we expect the same today?

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