The aim (of
education) must be the training of independently acting and thinking
individuals who, however, can see in the service to the community their highest
Today, children from the age of about 5 until 18 are
warehoused for nine months of the year and taught not to think. They read from
the standard texts that promulgate materialism and reinforce the notion that
anything of worth comes from sources outside of the person; internal thoughts are
immature or delusional.
Schools were created in the early nineteenth century
to promote literacy, primarily because the young nation needed educated people
to work in business.
Remember, this way of life is barely 200 years old-- the
first true factories came into existence in the 1770s, along with the first
mass transportation systems (canals); railroads came in the early and mid
1800s. This is when the power-structure began to view human beings as a commodity
like any other-- a resource to be mined, manipulated, even owned-- and though
slavery has been illegal for some 130 years, they still want to own you. This
is why they want to keep you in school for all of your formative years. Conditioning
you to accept their rules and their prescribed view of the order of things is
80% of the time and content of our present "educational" systems.
The curriculum was based on the liberal arts
curriculum developed after the fall of the Roman Empire in the fifth century.
The methods were based on the medieval academies. Children sat quietly in rows
and listened to the teacher intone facts. The children were to learn the
Schools changed dramatically between the nineteenth
and twentieth centuries. In the colonial era through the early nineteenth
centuries, families played large roles in teaching their children to read,
reading poetry from the schoolbooks at the dinner table, and deciding where to
send their children to school. Education of the young was a family
responsibility. Children learned reading, writing, and a little arithmetic and
perhaps French. Women were taught cooking, sewing, household management, and
some polished manners such as musical training, dancing, drawing, and
To be literate meant also being able to read for pleasure
and information. A number of books and other printed matter were available. In
1811 Bishop James Madison of Virginia recommended history, geography, poetry,
moral essays, biography, travel accounts, sermons and other religious materials
to his about-to-be-married daughter to "enlarge your understanding, to
render you a more agreeable companion, and to exalt your virtue.
Children and adults learned in a variety of settings,
including dame schools, public schools, academies, private schools, church
schools, Sunday schools, libraries, lyceums, and at home. By 1900, public
schools were more available, but only 10 percent of teenagers were enrolled in
Through the twentieth century, more students were
enrolled and states increased their control over education.
"Whenever the academic curriculum was diluted or
minimized, large numbers of children were pushed through the school system
without benefit of a genuine education.” These words sound like they could
have been in last week’s New York Times about schools today. They were in
fact written by Diane Ravich about schools in the twentieth century.
Today, schools are an anachronism. Certain skills
will help children function better in the world today, such as reading, writing,
and arithmetic, but they don’t need to be taught in schools. Schools teach
nothing of spirituality or the truths of the universe, the subjects of primary
importance to eternal beings whose primary focus is to grow in spiritual maturity.
The founding fathers required that congress not create a state religion, but
that simply meant not requiring that everyone must become an Anglican or Roman
Catholic. For the founding fathers, there was no spirituality outside of an
organized church, so they wouldn’t have considered teaching Rumi or Yeshua
(apart from the church) or Buddha as part of the school curriculum. They
didn’t consider that people might need to learn to become loving and
compassionate through spiritual growth in schools.
Today, the schools are failing. They are unable to
achieve their goals of making children into the beings a materialistic society
values: skilled in one of the revered trades (medicine, law, finance), obedient
to the organization, and capable of fitting into the narrowly prescribed niches
employers have for them. Children are dropping out of school because this set
of goals holds no meaning for them and most people are unable to achieve them:
. . . a new Education Week report reveals that more
than 1.2 million students will fail to graduate high school this year. Half of
our black and Hispanic male students are dropping out of public high schools.
Nowhere is the news for our young people worse than in Detroit,
Michigan. Detroit's economy has been devastated by so-called free trade
policies and awful management decisions. Tens of thousands of jobs are
disappearing, and too many mothers and fathers have never attended a
parent-teacher conference. Detroit's community is in pain, and the city's
future is uncertain. And despite the best efforts of local and state leaders,
hope is in short supply.
The Education Week report shows Detroit's public high
schools will graduate only 25 percent of their students. Cleveland, Ohio, and Baltimore,
Maryland, will graduate less than 35 percent; Dallas, Texas, New York and Los
Angeles, California, about 45 percent. In fact, 10 of our nation's biggest
cities will graduate fewer than half their students. This is nothing less than
a national crisis.
Christopher Swanson, director of the Editorial Projects in
Education Research Center and supervisor of that national dropout rate report
says: "I think that really speaks to the challenge of getting students to
graduate from high school at a time where it's more important than it's ever
been...to provide opportunities for our young people to have a successful
career and for the United States in general to be competitive in the
“To have a successful career” means to make children
into cogs that will fit the tightly prescribed slots on business wheels.
Nothing in Swanson’s statement refers to whether children will become blissful,
fulfilled, spiritually mature adults who will love their own children and help
them to grow into a world of compassion and love. Instead, they must fit into
the business wheels so the United States can be “competitive in the world.”
Lou Dobbs, from whose summary of the Education
Week study comes cited above, ends by describing the effects the failure of
schools will have, in his estimation. It illustrates this cogs in wheels
The Alliance for Excellent Education estimates that each
high school dropout earns about $260,000 less than a high school graduate over
his or her lifetime. The Alliance also reports that dropouts not only earn less
money but also drain state and federal budgets through their dependence on
social and welfare programs. Those students who drop out make up nearly half
the heads of households on welfare, and they constitute almost half of our
prison population as well. The cost to our society is overwhelming.
The concern is that students won’t become as
affluent; they will drain state ad federal budgets through social and welfare
programs; they will become criminals and end up in prison that will cost
society money. With assessments that schools are failing to produce these
kinds of students, the goals for school reform will continue to focus on
creating cogs for business wheels and never discover that any institution
working with people should be helping them to become self-confident, find their
own way in the world, be blissful, learn to love and be compassionate, and grow
in spiritual maturity. Materialistic goals will result in materialistic
successes and materialistic failures, but will do nothing to help society grow
beyond its current spiritual deadness and loss of concern for people as greatly
In the schools today, the content is entirely
physical realm content. History is taught as events in the physical realm, not
changes in spiritual outlook or human understanding. Science is taught as the
inerrant scriptures of the modern materialistic world, not to be challenged,
only to be accepted and memorized. Anything having to do with the inner person
in any form other than psychology as a materialistic study, is to be shunned.
Discussions of respect and regard for others are held, but based in a
pragmatic, utilitarian conception that if we all get along, we’ll be able to
avoid conflict and get more things accomplished.
Children whose personality styles don’t fit the
fact-based, materialistic curriculum are labeled as failures and not given the
opportunity to grow in the areas of interest to them, where their strengths
lie. The failure labeling begins as early as kindergarten. It’s hard to be a failure
already when you’re only five years old.
Creative impulses are subjugated to memorization and
structured requirements. As a result, creative children often drop out of
Besides the anachronistic content, the methods fail
to accomplish any ends, either the materialistic school’s or a different,
spiritual focus. The notion of warehousing children and having teachers talk
at them is notably outdated. The schools are based on competition, judgment,
punishment, and enhancing self-esteem for those who fit the pattern while destroying
the self-esteem of those who do not. It is an assembly line for creating
conformers and reducing the self-esteem of those who are different from the
Schools promise to prepare children for work, but in that
they fail miserably. Children graduating from schools are poorly prepared for
the requirements of an increasingly changing environment. In the nineteenth
and twentieth centuries, when businesses were more stable, people learned their
trades and practiced them the same skills for decades. The schools did teach
some trades, but most of schooling didn’t prepare students for a trade.
Today, even that need to prepare students for a trade
no longer exists. The world into which the children will go after graduation
will be different from the one that existed when they were in school, and
vastly different from the nineteenth and early twentieth century worlds the
anachronistic schools continue to prepare children for. The skills children
today need most are being able to adapt to changes and solve problems the
schools can’t know or anticipate, because they will regularly face change when
they enter the workforce and every few years after. The children must learn to
learn, on their own, because the changing social and work environments will
require them to learn new knowledge and skills. It must teach them to be
confident in their ability to assess novel problems and solve them, not wait
for directions from an authority figure. The schools, instead, teach children
they cannot learn without a teacher, not to think for themselves, to look for
answers in the past, not their inner resources, not to deviate from the
present so they can adapt to change, and to wait for someone to tell them what
We must rethink what we can do to help children
become adults who are spiritually mature, with compassion and brotherhood for
all. How can we justify teaching children calculus when they are binge
drinking, bullying, and over half are involved in fights each year?
Today, we live in an information-rich world where
children can learn from the wide array of sources available to them. Parents
can teach as readily as teachers. The concept that a master’s degree in
mathematics is necessary to teach fractions to children is naïve and
The venerable elders of our community today are
relegated to easy chairs before mindless daytime television or to retirement
homes. Instead, they would be valuable teachers of children, helping them
navigate through the rich information environment that would provide all the
content necessary. They would learn as the children learned, finding out about
new technologies and new information. The notion that someone has to be
present with the “right” answers is archaic. Dialogue would teach rather than
monologue. The money spent on schools could be given to families to obtain the
sources of information and subsidize field trips and other endeavors. It would
bring communities closer together as they worked with children. It would bring
families together as children, parents, and elders participated in learning and
Teachers must step down, relinquish their power, encourage
student responsibility, goal setting, and self-assessment and reporting.
"Constraints on time, content of the curriculum, location of learning
experiences, and methods of assessing learning will have to be relaxed to
accommodate diverse student interests and the challenges of motivating students
who see little purpose in the classic liberal arts curriculum."
All people have talents, but they may not be in the
detail-oriented, memorization, structured directions in which schools are
oriented. Every child should be encouraged to be all he or she can be, with
his or her unique talents. Every child should be successful because the child
is advancing as much as he or she can in ability, in whatever areas are
uniquely suited to him or her.
When schools work to meet this challenge, issues such as
inclusion will no longer be debated. "Success can occur in many differen t
areas yet still be validated by the school."
And that means every adult will feel fulfilled and
accomplished, regardless of his or her style, abilities, or disabilities.
Everyone’s talents will be recognized and they will fit in noble places in
Adolescence is extended into the early 20’s, so
children are kept in lockstep educational systems that teach them not to think
or solve problems. Businesses are accustomed to the fact that college
graduates entering the workforce know nothing and must begin their educations
The widespread sense of apathy, hopelessness and even
despair among many (particularly young) people today is not at all a reflection
of the realities of what is possible, but rather of the sophistication of the
system of thought control by which those possibilities have been obscured.
Among 13-17 year olds, school is by far the most
commonly mentioned source of stress. In a 2007 survey, 45 percent of girls and
young women reported experiencing stress frequently, and 32 percent of boys and
young men experienced stress.
Ravitch, D. (2000, August 29). Left Back: A Century of Failed School Reform.
Simon and Schuster,
Edwards, D. (1996). Burning All Illusions: A Guide to Personal and Political
Freedom. South End Press.