The Townhall

On the Future of School and Education

On the Future of School and Education

By Douglas Marolla

The Business of Education

After 27 years in the school business, and it is a business, a lucrative one, there is a lot to talk about. It would be easy to go on about all the things wrong with the schooling of American students. Teachers, as a species, can complain about students for hours. “If it weren’t for these students, the school would be wonderful!” is the standard theme of your average teacher discussion. And yet, the major problems facing our schools today don’t come from the students, they originate in the systemic administration of our curriculum and the way we teach young minds. 

Over the past three decades, all in a rough urban neighborhood, I’ve seen the workload for students in English class dwindle from: written assignments every day, homework every night, an essay every couple of weeks, a project every marking period, a 2-hour long midterm and a final, to: never giving homework, some writing every day, a light-hearted project every marking period,  and midterm and final exams that take about 45 minutes each.

When asked about the future of education, people often use the wrong word.  School is what they mean.  It’s relatively easy to talk about the future of school.  The taxpayer-funded compulsory school system is working wonderfully.  School was never intended to educate the masses but simply put them in their correct class, and keep them there.  It has worked spectacularly well. Taxpayer-funded compulsory schooling has probably worked even better than the creators of the system could ever have imagined. William Torrey Harris (Yale), Education School stalwart, Commissioner of Education, and one of the founders of the system famously said:

Our schools have been scientifically designed to prevent over-education from happening. The average citizen should be content with their humble role in life.

The school system has succeeded beyond Harris’ wildest dreams. 

Testing vs. Educating

In the old days, parents were dedicated to ensuring that their children got robust, in-depth, and challenging schoolwork. Look at the Kansas City 8th grade exam from 1895. Look up Ronny Hignite’s 1954 8th grade civics exam.  Be ready to struggle. The parents expected and demanded that school would educate their children in a way that would allow them to prosper in a reasonably free heritage America.  The parents also demanded results and responsibility from their children.

In what could only be described as a planned loosening of standards – institutional entropy – we’ve come to the point where even the parents from the wealthy districts are more concerned about making sure that amorphous constructs like ‘diversity’ and ‘equity’ and ‘anti-racism’ are in place, rather than schooling that engenders independent thought. Because of this, the future of schooling can look particularly grim.

The testing industrial complex has ruined one year of high school English, many of the other subjects, and practically every year of primary and junior high school in New York. The lucrative testing industry sends young minds down a narrow path that requires them to pass the test to get a credential. Therefore, the test: minimal, shallow, and intellectually bereft, is the prize to obtain at the end of the year.  Testing is the Obamacare of education.  You have to take the test even if you don’t want or need it.  The testing companies love this system. The money has been flowing for many years. It grows and grows. School budgets are tied to test results. Since implementation, there has never been a year when state exams have been removed in New York.

How Testing Has Affected Schools

Because our overlords understand incentives better than the huddled masses, the incentives measured for school success are the number of students who take the test and the passing rates for that test. If the test is a pointless exercise in, at best, surface-level understanding of the subject, or, at worst, hours of questioning that reinforces the current day narrative, then it’s a win / win for the Elite. And it’s a horrible and abysmal loss for the students.

The school system has become worse as the decades have passed. You have a top-heavy, overfed carcass of pointless bureaucracy that churns out students who don’t know at what temperature water freezes, what happened on July 4th, 1776, or who Frederick Douglass was.

What they do know is that no one’s feelings are ever allowed to get hurt. They know that there was a Holocaust. They know that race is the barometer for everything in life. If there is a discrepancy in results, in any field, at any time, it’s probably because of some kind of racial dynamic, perhaps a gender dynamic. Oppressive patriarchy. Systemic racism. Gender fluidity. These are the modern pillars upon which our education system is built. Having taught in an inner city urban neighborhood for 27 years, I can tell you this toxic brew of “school” has done serious damage to cohort after cohort of high school graduates. 

What Was Old is New Again

As bad as the school system’s future is, the future of education is bright. It is happening slowly, but there is a movement toward ‘classical education’. The number of homeschooling students has risen dramatically in the last 15 years, and the COVID pandemic sent those numbers higher at an amazing rate. Remember, the parents, for the first time in a long time, were able to see what their children were getting fed from the school industry. The parenting instinct wasn’t going to allow for politically correct drivel, backward illogical Common Core math, lectures on colonization, or any other faddish lessons to be taught. Parents wanted their children to be taught fundamentals. So, these parents did what many parents are starting to do, to realize, whether they see it the way I do or not, that school does not equal education.

Things are changing in the education world for the positive because you can see the backlash from the establishment press when they talk about the “conservative” movement in education. Recently there was an article in The New Yorker “Have the Liberal Arts Gone Conservative?” The author gave a nice overview of the rise of classical, old-school education. Years ago, the writer would have pilloried the movement as a “white conservative, Bible-thumping, Christian, homeschooled weirdo” movement, but one can’t do that anymore. Why? Because now, you have families in all areas: Black, Hispanic, wealthy white liberal, and religious communities, turning their backs on their neighborhood public schools, and introducing effective and independent ways of learning to their children.

It’s a slow movement, but it’s begun.  Students are getting introduced to the Trivium. A word alien to most. Additionally, they are learning about historical concepts without obsessing over race, gender, or class. Young people are getting mathematics that doesn’t bother with social justice.  Dispensing with the religion of woke has led to a more well-balanced, politically agnostic brand of learning.

The Trivium was the original grounding for a student’s education. The creators of public schooling took the seven parts of the Trivium and Quadrivium and bastardized them into subjects. Teaching children the Trivium: grammar, logic, and rhetoric allows a young mind to explore the natural world and everything in it at a level that school cannot tolerate.

When a homeschooled child gets the first three parts of the Trivium, which they can at an early age, and then the final four parts of the Quadrivium, you have a young person gifted with an insatiable thirst for knowledge and an independent mind that won’t fall for the stupidity that’s released in the mainstream media narrative.  Remember, a current-day 21-year-old American was told, throughout their younger schooling years, that gender and science are racist social constructs to be dismissed. Then, for two years, during the COVID era, they were told to follow “The Science”, and anyone who didn’t was an anachronistic Cro-Magnon conservative who should be fired from their job and de-platformed. Many independent minds saw the obvious illogic. A schooled mind can’t see through it because school teaches you to follow directions and obey authority – learned helplessness.

The future of education is extremely bright. Here in the inner city neighborhoods, we have the odd irony of being able to speak freely and explore subjects generously if the teacher and students are so inclined. We have more students getting homeschooled than ever before. Programs like Saxon Math, the one used by Jaime Escalante in the movie Stand and Deliver, have newfound levels of popularity.

The Home School Legal Defense Association is an organization that, at one point, inhabited a small unique, quiet part of the Internet. Currently, the HSLDA is a major player in guaranteeing that parents and students, the people who matter, are allowed to educate themselves in the way they wish.

The United States was founded, then built, then became a world power, without taxpayer-funded compulsory public schooling. Alexis de Tocqueville, in Democracy in America (1835), was amazed that Americans would work for a company, but for only a short time. They were all eager to put together a grubstake, and then branch out on their own. A ‘nation of shopkeepers’ is the phrase that dominated early America. In what would today be called homeschooling, free people had, year over year, created thoughtful, disciplined, knowledgeable young people who understood how the world worked – in a more difficult time. A free-minded person understands what is necessary to live a life of independent abundance.

So, the irony is rich. Everything old is becoming new again. The old ways of education, which were better by any metric, are on the rise. It’s a slow move for sure, and I’m limited by my scope of vision, but I see it happening both from my vantage point and from the rumblings of the Establishment, which doesn’t want an independent-thinking populace that can see through the endless narrative inconsistencies and fallacies.

 Education is on the rise. School is falling.

Douglas Marolla

Tags: ,
Previous Post
Fearing US influence, China demand “subservience” in troubled waters of South China Sea
Next Post
Mexico’s Wave of Political Violence

Related Articles

Tags: ,