Either we have stepped into an alternate universe, which if you were abreast of the latest internet craze, The Mandela Effect, you would know that some people think that we have jumped dimensions.
Something has gone terribly wrong with the experts. Something has gone wrong in how they are educated, how they lives their lives within an ideological, and for the most part, geographical, cocoon that makes it all but impossible for "experts" to step beyond the narrow confines of whatever entrenched area of expertise they represent.
I heard someone lamenting today that one should not break-up with someone via text. That ghosting was not ok. Tell that to today's teenagers and young adults. That is what culture is. Culture is change. Women used to write men Dear John letters. Now they just never respond to another text again. That's cultural evolution.
Now, is the lament justified? Do we lament the evolution that is happening before our very eyes?
Think about this. It is highly unlikely your children, if they under 10, will ever really drive a car. I already have a passtionate distaste for the modern convenience of cars--but cars you can buy today already have quasi-autopilots installed. If you have a newborn, right now, that child wll probably never drive a car.
So yes, we lament. The person lamenting the dating culture and me, lamenting how much I don't want a computer to drive me anywhere.
As a society we lament institutional change even more. Americans are not known for enacting change until it can't be put off anymore.
But institutional change is exactly what we must have if we are to help the students of today measure up to the crazy world we are busy creating, a world which we don't even know what it will look like, and the kids of today are supposed to listen to people who are trying and failing miserably to hold on to institutions that are simply failing.
The one institution that is failing perhaps the most abyssmally is education.
Let's say we go to a random high school. Let's say we go to 10 random high schools, spread out geographically and demographically across an entire metropolitan area, any metropolitan area, every metropolitan area, and let's say that we asked those kids, "Who here actually likes school?"
Oh, anecdotes. Of course the kids are going to say they didn't like going to school. If you know how to get kids to understand that you understand how powerless they feel because you once felt exactly that powerless, kids will open up to you. Call it my instinctive sense of rebellion against institutions in general, but it was rare to find a student who actually enjoyed going to school.
Let's just take an aside on how deeply damaging our current education system is to human development. Adolescents not only require more sleep, but hormonal disruptions reconfigure their sleeping patterns. If you have adolescents you might have noticed that for some reason now they stay up late and get up later. There is plenty of research out there that demonstrates unequivocally that if you don't get enough sleep, you aren't able to function. So we have teenagers whose natural sleep pattern is probably somewhere from 11pm-11am being forced to atend school early in the morning. Let the kids sleep.
What about for kids first starting school. Is it really reasonable to expect a four year to be able to sit still in a classrom? Is it really what education should be about when kids are four? See, I have this crazy idea that children that young not only need to move, but want to move. Don't we have this obesity childhood obesity epidemic happening, too? Could children sitting still for long periods of time have something to do with the prevalence of obesity? Hmmmm....
I think kids would love to go to school if going to school meant being able to move. If we got rid of the idea of the lecture and instead learned by doing. If had classrooms that had standing desks and sitting desks. If recess was actually recess. If the occasional tussle didn't result in the kids getting arrested.
Instead kids get worksheets. If you have a student, you know how much of their world is dominated by worksheets. I am also certain that many schools have transitioned worksheets to mindless web-work.
Let be clear: there are many dedicated teachers out there who are trying innovative and creative attempts at educating the students in their charge, but they are faced with an educational expertocracy that will not perrmit any change. That cannot imagine the idea of dismantling the public school system in its entirety and providing every parent with a voucher that allows them to pick the school of their choice.
To the education expertocracy, and to many with the educational system itself, that is tantamount to heresy.
And yet...we trust the market, and really, that is and has always been an inadequate term to describe economics, we trust OTHERS to do all the other things we cannot do for ourselves. Trust is the entire basis of our economic system. When we buy something, we are trusting that the person we are buying from is providing us a legitimate good or service.
We trust others to make our toothpaste, our food, our electricity, our cell phones, our cars, and we trust even more people to fix our teeth, to cook our food, to provide free wi-fi, to repairs our cars...and yet, we don't trust others to educate our kids?
And yet, we somehow are supposed to trust the government? And so then why do private schools even exist? Why do poor families fight to get into charter schools and private schools? Why do online schools exist?
They exist because even though they are fighting a government sanctioned monopoly, they are still winning. People are willing to pay more for education even when its free.
Think about that for just a second.
People are willing to PAY for MORE education even when the government is providing it (nominally) for free.
Free doesn't come cheap.
And that's the problem with any centralized expertocracy that is somehow being supported by the taxpayers of America.
Free stuff is simply never any good. The reason it's not any good is because there is no one accountable. So the National Endowment for the Arts funds some horrific degenerate artist. Whose responsible? Oh, some committee. The Department of Labor spends Lord knows how much on ads for Obamacare even though the new President has promised to repeal and replace it. Who wasted that money? Oh, some under secretary for media. What?
We spend more per child and get less from our public education system than any other industrialized country.
But forget about the dollars for a minute though.
What about the kids? Has classroom education contributed to the obesity epidemic? Is the curriculum mind-numblingly outdated? Are kids excited to learn? Do schools teach mindfulness, grit, and determination? Do they teach kids how to overcome failure, or do they stigmatize it?
Regardless of how you feel about the incoming administration, the potential for change has never been greater. Education should be non-partisan. It shouldn't be something that is relegated to politics. We have entrusted so much of the education of our young people to a sclerotic system that sucks the very life out of them and makes many of them lose interest in learning.
The experts have been very wrong lately. I wonder if they will continue to be wrong, if they will learn, or if we must reclassify what an actual expert is. Does real-world experience matter more, or does following the fast-track to a post-doctoral program make you more of an expert? I think it's safe to say that you know where I stand on this matter.
Be the gardener, not the carpenter.