Time was when being able to read and write was good enough to meet the demands of industry. After a while, workers needed to have an eighth grade, then a high school education to be of much value. That was then, back before the world became complicated. Today, in order to understand what is going on at work, workers need a good foundation in mathematics and science, and to be able to read and understand fairly complicated instructions in order to maintain and operate more and more sophisticated machines.
For all these many years, it has been much about the needs of employers. Time to say, “Enough of this Carnegie-Mellon, in service of capitalism, education.” Time to ask, “how should it be?” Beyond making us employable, what should be the role of education in a modern society? Surely, a good king, or queen, would not allow talent or aptitude to go to waste. They would act to ensure that both were recognized and developed. They would afford every child access to an education that accorded them the opportunity to develop their full potential. They would recognize that, a society being the sum of its parts, theirs would be a stronger kingdom if each of its citizens were allowed to develop to their full potential.
A truly modern democratic society understands that in order to be a good citizen, beyond mathematics and science, one needs a good grasp of geography, history, economics, the legal system, and politics. Understands that in order to better comprehend the role of these things, they need to be exposed to the humanities and social sciences. Understands that some understanding of these things leads to a fuller, more meaningful life; that one’s work will likely be more interesting and fulfilling. That better educated people make better thinkers and that thinking is where it all begins. The good king or queen, a modern democratic society, would want to develop every child’s potential to the max, to offer them horizons to match their potential; offer them a more fulfilling life.
For years now, our response has been to try and stuff more into our kids’ minds faster. This, along with more kids per classroom, was seen as good economics. To date, we’ve gotten by with it to the extent some kids are able to stay afloat. Too many aren’t. It is time to put up the money for more teachers and support for teachers. It is time to start thinking that a basic education means the completion of a two-year junior college; or more.
A basic education that includes a strong core of mathematics and science, a good grasp on geography, history, economics, the legal system, and politics; and, sufficient exposure to the humanities and social sciences so as to better comprehend the role of geography, history, economics, the legal system, and politics in society. Students going on to more scholarly pursuits, to professions, can build on this foundation. The nation would be the greater beneficiary.
Else, we might wind up with a citizenry that would elect an incompetent, corrupt president. We might wind up with a few half-baked nerds having more money and power than god.