Our current educational system is often called "the factory school" system because it is structured the same as most factories were 100 years ago. You put the raw material in one end of the factory (The Child) and get the finished product out of the other end (The Graduate).
Herein Lies the problem: Our whole system is based on the belief that we can "mold" an individual through "manipulating his/her environment". In other words, it doesn't matter what ingredients go into the pot. We will make sure that chicken soup comes out the other end, EVEN IF WE DON'T HAVE A CHICKEN!
Rousseau, in his book Emile, argued that children are a "blank slate" to be written on. We choose the words...not them. That was French Philosophy 200 years ago and that is American philosophy today!
So, let's analyze our "assembly line" shall we?
1. We Teach Reading to Everyone.
2. Everyone Learns to Write
3. Everyone Learns Math
4. Everyone Learns History and Geography.
Obviously if you look at what the factory produces in the end, up to half of what comes out the other end is "defective" and will not be purchased by the marketplace after spending anywhere from $60,000 up to $143,000 per "product"!
Would You Continue to do Business with a Factory that sends you anywhere from 20-50% "defective" products? The consequence of such a system is that we import our finished products from other countries! How many of our professionals are imports? How many Educated Americans are being "bought" in Foreign Countries?
Herein lies the problem. The factory system is inefficient and ineffective because it doesn't care about the basic ingredients that come through the front door! Sorry folks, but obviously 20-50% of the school population can not be made into something they don't want to be in the first place!
Such a system is not only inefficient, it is also unjust and cruel! It is like taking a 90 pound high schooler and making him play Defensive Tackle! All the "motivation" in the world won't make that happen! You can yell at him, beat on him, put in him in detention or even suspend him. In the end, he is a million to one long-shot! I like long-shots. "Rudy" is a great movie! A fantastic movie! But it "worked" because Rudy was "self-motivated"! HE WANTED IT!
Now, lets return to our 90 pound unmotivated tackle. Let';s pretend We actaully found out what he wanted to do and then figured out a way to help him get there! So the kid likes butterflys instead of football. So What! There are people that get paid for that. Its called Biology!
Sadly, he won't learn real Biology until the 9th grade! By then, he could care less about butterflies because they don't get the "girls"! He quits school and joins a gang instead. Because gang-bangers get girls.
You don't think it works that way? Ask any teacher about some locked-up "gang-bangers" potential and you will see that is exactly how it works!
I worked with inner-city kids and I can tell you about "wasted potential". School makes them feel worthless because it is somebody else's dream. Some Politician, or bureaucrat that measures success by how long they keep the poor kid's "butt" in some seat where it doesn't belong!
Next: What Works!