Old Patriot's Pen

Personal pontifications of an old geezer born 200 years too late.

NOTE The views I express on this site are mine and mine alone. Nothing I say should be construed as being "official" or the views of any group, whether I've been a member of that group or not. The advertisings on this page are from Google, and do not constitute an endorsement on my part.

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Location: Colorado Springs, Colorado, United States

I've been everywhere That was the title of a hit country-and-western song from the late 1950's, originally sung by Hank Snow, and made famous by Johnny Cash. I resemble that! My 26-year career in the Air Force took me to more than sixty nations on five continents - sometimes only for a few minutes, other times for as long as four years at a time. In all that travel, I also managed to find the perfect partner, help rear three children, earn more than 200 hours of college credit, write more than 3000 reports, papers, documents, pamphlets, and even a handful of novels, take about 10,000 photographs, and met a huge crowd of interesting people. I use this weblog and my personal website here to document my life, and discuss my views on subjects I find interesting.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Not a Solution, But a Tool

The education system in the United States is broken. Study after study proves it. My 20-year-old daughter got a poorer education in one of the "better" schools in Colorado Springs than I did in the "worst" school in my rural Louisiana school district 40 years ago. There are lots of reasons for the failure - everything from the lowering of expectations to the dumbing down of the curriculum to the lack of truly qualified teachers to the promotion of agendas that have nothing to do with preparing young people to take their place in society.

There are two conflicting priorities here: we're forced to send our children to either public or private schools, or train them ourselves. Yet most families have two working adults, with little time to teach, and in most cases, far too little energy and multiple other duties. At the same time, we know our public school system is failing to provide a well-rounded, full education.

There are some other problems, too - social problems, relationship problems, even racial and ethnic problems. Too many young blacks and Hispanics for instance see education as a negative, a "whitey" phenomenon. That sets them up for a lifetime of failure. Another major problem is that the people that need educational help the most are the poorest of our poor, and the ones who can least afford "additional" programs for their children.

We know what the problem is, but what about a solution? We were given one - it's in the Bible: "train up a child in the way in which they should go, and when they are old, they will not depart from it".

Whether that's what our "public schools" "should" be doing or not is immaterial. The truth is, the public schools system fails 90% of the children enrolled in it. The answers outside the public schools have been limited to home-schooling, private schools, and individual tutoring. I'd like to suggest some additional tools that parents could use to increase their child's readiness to face society as a whole, and to prepare their children to set whatever goals they choose.

First, there needs to be additional options other than public or private school, or home-school. We need more than just a "tutoring" program - we need a full-scale LEARNING program. That program not only has to be as good or better than the public school program, it has to be capable of meeting the greatest array of student diversity possible. It's often the "adequate" students that get the least amount of attention, the least help, and the poorest education.

The first tool that needs to be available is the knowledge of what a child SHOULD know. There needs to be a database somewhere with all the knowledge a child should learn, beginning at age 6 months and continuing through Advanced Placement classes in high school. In addition, it should be broken down into what is necessary to qualify as 20%, 40% 60%, 80% and 100% knowledgable of the subject. For far too large a number of parents, the information will be as new to them as it is to their child. Yet parents must know what their child needs to know, and should have at least a passing knowledge of the subject themselves.

The second tool that's needed is for that database of knowledge to be available to people who need the information. I would suggest a network that has outlets in public schools, churches, welfare offices, and in the offices of non-profit organizations that offer training to those that ask for it. Most important, however, is for the information to be available in places like schools, clubs for young people and teens, day care centers, and anywhere else children might congregate under supervision.

The third tool thats essential for the program to work includes challenge, competition, and reward for good work, along with encouragement for those that don't at first succeed. The rest of a person's entire life is going to be filled with challenges, competition, and conflict. It's essential to teach children at the earliest age how to deal with these sensations, and how to overcome failure and become successful.


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