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TAKING PUBLIC EDUCATION FOR GRANTED

Posted by Tim Bryce on July 17, 2018

BRYCE ON EDUCATION

– People today do not appreciate the value of a high school diploma.

Click for AUDIO VERSION.
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

I want to talk a little on education. Some things have been bothering me. Today, we hear a lot of young people demanding a right to free higher education, or at the very least paying off their college debt. As I’ve said before, higher education should be treated as a privilege in this country, certainly not a right. So much is the push for college education, I believe the institution of America’s public education system is under-appreciated. As I would remind everyone, we should be proud of our public education system. Could it stand improvement? Certainly, but that is only natural. You have to remember this institution ultimately represents our national personality and is the key to our future. As such, it should be prized and definitely not taken for granted.

First, a little history. In planning for the future, when additional states would inevitably join the union, the first Congress devised the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 which, among other things, included Article 3 stating, “Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.”

This led to the public school system which was provided to all citizens. For the first time, parents were required to send their children to school, which was enforced by town magistrates. This was based on the premise education would lead to a spirit of community, national patriotism, and prosperity. It was founded on the belief education would develop better citizens and make them more productive.

In 1835, noted historian and political commentator Alexis de Tocqueville, a Frenchman, published his famous book, “Democracy in America,” which was an analysis of our young country as compared to those in Europe. This was based on his travels through America in 1831 and 1832. The book, which is frequently referenced even to this day, contains his observations on the young country, everything from its geographical layout, to its culture, and particularly its new political system as a democratically elected republic, as opposed to a monarchy.

Tocqueville was particularly taken by the American public education system. He was amazed to see children as young as second grade be completely literate, something normally reserved for the aristocracy in Europe. He was also taken by how knowledgeable children were in the workings of the government as defined by the U.S. Constitution. He wrote, “It cannot be doubted that, in the United States, the instruction of the people powerfully contributes to the support of a democratic republic;”

Tocqueville was so impressed, he wrote the following, “But it is in mandates relating to public education that, from the outset, the original character of American civilization is revealed in the clearest light.”

I believe we have forgotten the purpose of public education, which is to learn lessons, not just memorization for the purpose of testing. One key component missing is to teach young people to “learn to learn,” which leads to a lifetime of inquiry. Instead, we have developed a generation who do nothing more than “learn to test.” This is one reason why I am not a proponent of Common Core. It is more important to teach the student to think and endeavor to find an answer as opposed to simply programming the person.

There was a time when we used to prize a high school diploma, that it meant something important. During the Great Depression of the 20th century many people had to drop out of school to go to work to help support the family. To them, a high school diploma was a prized possession, as was a junior high school diploma. The idea of attending college was simply out of the question.

Today, college has been sold to us as the natural next step in our development, that we cannot succeed without it. This explains why young people believe they have a right to it and should be free. However, I believe high school guidance counselors have put too much emphasis on attending college. For example, trade schools are sorely needed today to teach fundamental skills such as plumbing, electrical work, manufacturing, tool and die, automotive, programming, etc. Not only are these skills very much in demand, they pay well too. However, counselors tend to pooh-pooh them, as well as a hitch in the military. Due to declining socialization skills, as well as morality and the family unit, the military provides the structure and sense of purpose many young people need, as well as basic skills. They also open the door to higher education at a later date.

Something else, I’m told a lot of teachers today hold a degree in education, and not a specific field of study, such as history, English, or a branch of science or math, etc. As such they rely on videos to explain a lesson, followed by a quiz. It seems to me, without give-and-take between the teacher and the students, this is watering down the learning process.

One last note, as I believe our children are not properly learning American government anymore, I would like to see the Constitution taught in the classroom again, not as a quiz but as a dialog in order to engage the students. Sounds like a suitable question to ask politicians in the upcoming elections, doesn’t it?

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

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Copyright © 2018 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

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6 Responses to “TAKING PUBLIC EDUCATION FOR GRANTED”

  1. Tim Bryce said

    A B.B. of Dunedin, Florida wrote…

    “Excellent article as usual. I would like to add that we are missing an important education element in our overall education system. That is the process of “ Apprenticeship “. This word is often associated with unions; however, this association is not appropriate. In engineering, a 4-year college degree in engineering in an ABET approved college is first required. Then an 8 hour exam is required to be passed to insure that the fundamentals of engineering have been learned. Then a 4-year apprenticeship is required under the oversight of one or more licensed engineers is required before a second 8 hour exam in the area of engineering expertise is taken. An interview by an engineering board may or may not then be required before the person can then become licensed to practice engineering and be called an “Engineer” by State Law.

    I point this out to emphasize the “Apprenticeship” concept and how this is used in my profession. This concept should be injected into many more career paths as a common process which would go a long way toward replacing the current demand for the very expensive 4-year college degree.”

    Like

  2. Tim Bryce said

    A T.M. of Massachusetts wrote…

    “With the emphasis on religion, morality and knowledge, not only should the Constitution (Read Khizr Khan’s “This is our Constitution”) be taught and discussed, religion and morality seem to be sorely missing from public education. The religion issue may never surface in public education, a full and separate discussion. However, morality, how about etiquette and common-courtesy are not off-limits.”

    Like

  3. Tim Bryce said

    A G.B. of Clearwater, Florida wrote…

    “I joined the U.S. Army at the age of 17. I had to promise my mother that I would get my High School Diploma. While serving in the Army I obtained my High School Diploma along with my graduating class, and later my college diploma. I then took some graduate level course work but did not obtain a Masters degree.

    It remains up to the parents to motivate and the teachers at every level to preach the importance of individual growth and whether he/she should pursue further education. If you want something bad enough you will find a way to get it.”

    Like

  4. lleddirj said

    Bro. Bryce,

    I have to disagree to a point with your assessment. Not very many decades ago a high school diploma was roughly the equivalent to what at least (and perhaps more) would now be an associate degree from a two year college. I have been in academia (but now out) and the incoming HS graduates could not start the watered-down math class of a college. I was lucky and had an advanced malt class in high school after one year of calculus, the math was started in 7th grade so we received 6 years starting algebra I in 8th grade. We were also required to take 3 years (not terms) of a foreign language, along with 4 years of English, two years of of history (U.S. & world) , one year of geography and one of Civics (all about government). The sciences consisted of a year each of biology, chemistry, and general physics. In the mean time we were able to fit in a typing class (which has served me exceptionally well, Mrs. Murray was an excellent teacher.) We had a home economics class where I learned to iron dress shires and slacks (my own) , replace a button, thread a needle, apply a patch and cook blueberry pancakes. We also received first aid training in Boy Scouts and many survival skills flew through the first 2-year I received with honors – all because I was properly prepared. We were not allowed to use a slide rule but had to avail ourselves with Log and natural Log tables, trig tables,, and statistic tables. We never had just one tool, we had an arsenal of mass instruction and were not afraid to use it. Shortly after I learned to program in BASIC on a teletype terminal – you made few mistakes before you got it write (no pun intended). I learned to punch tap for NC milling machines. I learned to weld metal, I learned to construct with lumber. Robert Heinlein was absolutely correct. Driving was learned on the farm along with ALL sorts of repair, animal husbandry, plant cultivation, harvesting, working as a team, and kindly care for animals that would have been mostly helpless without me. I learned to explore, be self-sufficient, or confidently find my way, regardless of where I was located. I also learned to help my fellow humans without expectation of remuneration or reward but merely for the good feeling and as my father always said “you don’t owe me anything just help the next person you come across that needs some help.” There was a story on NPR this morning lamenting the fact that is appears as if children who spend too much time tuned in to their electronic toys become more susceptible to ADHD and the like without learning the important playtime skills of getting along, interpreting rules, finding your best fit in an organization, etc.

    Suffice to say Rote learning has it’s place and thankfully all the ‘learning theories’ have been debunked. Long live the curious mind ever striving to become the more perfect ashlar.

    Fraternally,

    Bro. Jim Summit #104 (VT) & Owosso #81 (MI)

    On Tue, Jul 17, 2018 at 7:30 AM THE BRYCE IS RIGHT! wrote:

    > Tim Bryce posted: “BRYCE ON EDUCATION – People today do not appreciate the > value of a high school diploma. Click for AUDIO VERSION. To use this > segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request. I want to talk > a little on education. Some things have been bothering” >

    Like

    • Tim Bryce said

      Brother Jim – Your educational background sounds remarkably similar to my own, but I fail to see how we disagree. It sounds like we both want the students to “learn how to learn.” – All the Best, Tim

      Like

  5. lauren said

    Good article,This concept should be injected into many more career paths as a common process.the parents to motivate and the teachers at every level to preach the importance of individual growth and whether he/she should pursue further education.

    Like

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