Monday, January 06, 2014

How to Destroy Education

If I wanted to destroy education, here is what I'd do.

1. I would try to get as many people going to college as possible.

College was originally designed for those who wished to pursue academic and professional positions -- to become scientists, scholars, theologians, lawyers, doctors -- not to teach people how to be an employee for a business. While it is true that businesses are increasingly dependent on scientific knowledge and those who understand the law (the last is a problem having nothing to do with change in the economy per se), many of these people could be trained in a few years, often on the job, for many of these positions. Even a technician in a science lab needs to know very little beyond a few techniques that could easily be taught in a year or two at most.

Those who argue college is the only worthwhile pursuit are elitists of the worst kind, who hold those who would do "manual labor" in contempt. But the world needs plumbers, mechanics, electricians, etc. As much as it costs to hire one, we could stand to have more of them. By shaming more and more people out of jobs they could do well and into college, we are creating a situation where universities are having to adapt to a population of people with average intelligence. This means making classes easier and easier, making the students who were historically university students (high intelligence) increasingly bored. I have even been told that "the best and brightest will just have to be bored" by a department chair (no one I have worked with in the past several years).

Recent pushes to increase graduation rates at colleges is only going to make things worse, because universities will have to make classes even easier to ensure the influx of average I.Q. students will be able to pass. This means few will learn much of anything. And it will continue to take pressure off of our high schools to teach anything at all.

Indeed, the reduction of standards at the college level trickles down to the high schools, which do not have to teach students as much for them to get into college, since colleges are less and less competitive and have lower and lower requirements. Lower high school standards then result in lower middle school standards, and lower middle school standards result in lower grade schools standards. Thus, by merely pushing for more and more people to go to college, I could destroy standards down the entire chain.

2. I would emphasize process over content.

If you want to destroy education, you have to make sure nobody actually learns anything. That means destroying content. A great way of doing this is saying that students need to learn the process of learning rather than content. Rather than teaching facts and logic, teach "critical thinking." Rather than teaching grammar, spelling, and vocabulary, teach the writing process. Rather than providing a foundation, teach "higher order" thinking. By switching from content-based education to process-based education, you can guarantee that nobody knows anything. They will know how to look things up, but they won't know what is even out there to look up in the first place. There is no knowledge without content, so a contentless education would destroy all true education.

3. I would make it illegal for parents to bring anything they cooked themselves and require them to only bring bought goods.

Now, this seems like a strange one, but you may rest assured that this is a brilliant way to destroy education. In addition to being able to profit from the obvious cronyism involved in such a law -- thanks for the political donations, Hostess! -- you could destroy any community involvement in local schools. By requiring parents to buy, say, cakes for the cake walk rather than letting them make cakes to bring, you will get far less parent participation in school functions. Parents are less likely to buy a cake than to make one -- especially your poorer parents. Of course, poorer parents are exactly who you want to target if you want to destroy your education system. It is easier to discourage your poorer parents, and anything that will make their lives worse, especially in regards to their children's educations, will result in less participation from those parents. Your middle class and wealthier parents have more money than time, so will participate with purchases and paying for their children to be in clubs and programs. Your poorer parents have more time than money, and are willing to put in that time by baking cakes and cookies, etc. By banning home-baked goods, you eliminate these parents' participation in the schools. Thus, you cause them to demonstrate to their children that school is unimportant. And a sense of community is destroyed because people participate less in school functions, meaning they don't meet and interact with as many people in their communities. People who know each other are closer and are more likely to help each other. Thus, by destroying participation in school functions, you make parents less involved, meaning government has to take up the slack, and you weaken the bonds of the community, meaning government has to take up the slack. With this approach, you can not only weaken education in particular, you can specifically target the poor and ensure they remain poor, but you can weaken the communities around those schools. All of this has the side effect of ever-increasing dependence on government. So not only have you gotten money from your cronies for passing laws making home-baked goods illegal to bring to school functions, but you have created the conditions to argue for more political power to be concentrated in your own hands. Brilliant!

4. I would argue that any sort of criticism of a student is offensive to that student's culture/race/gender/sex/etc., and constitutes a microaggression.

Argue that students have a "right to their own language," and you will be well on your way to not only destroying education, but to ensuring minorities across the board will remain poor and dependent on government. First, you have to create the completely false impression that cultures never change, and therefore any change is evidence of an insidious incursion by racists. Further, you have to argue that you should never criticize anyone for anything ever because to criticize someone harms their self-esteem. This will keep people in their place, socially, and ensure that the cultural elites are protected from incursion from among the ranks of the poor. It will also keep all those of other races in their place -- except for a few tokens to demonstrate you are anything but a racist, since after all, you have a representative from each race in your group. But by ensuring that you cannot criticize African-Americans or Hispanics on issue of grammar and pronunciation, you can ensure that they will remain in their place in society, and destroy education to boot! Because if you cannot criticize minorities for their grammar and pronunciation, it makes little sense to correct anybody of any race. This means there is little use for teaching grammar, or even having students read or write much. Of course, you can still keep your job as a writing teacher by teaching the writing process -- ensuring you will keep your job while teaching nothing whatsoever.

5. I would create as many scapegoats as possible, to keep people blaming others rather than taking responsibility for their own actions.

If racial minorities can blame others for their situation, they won't take it upon themselves to do anything about their own situations. More, they will see any criticism as a confirmation of racism. Criticism will therefore have the opposite effect, making sure racial minorities engage in behaviors detrimental to their educations and economic well-being. Doing poorly in school? It's because of others' racism. Poor? It's because of others' racism. Abusing your spouse and children? It's because of the social conditions created by racism. And guess what? The guilt of the majority helps ensure these things continue. If it is racist to criticize, we'll have to stop criticizing anyone. Thus, nobody learns anything. Apply this to the school system, and what you have is a situation where nobody can learn, because correcting anyone when they are wrong is racism. If you stick to your message that any criticism is racist, you can even create what ought to be recognized as the absurd situation of members of one's own race being called racist when they criticize the actions of members of their own race. When you have accomplished this, you will have done your job of creating the cultural conditions where education is completely devalued by significant portions of your society.

If I wanted to destroy education in a country, I would do all of the above. Sadly, you don't have to be an evil genius to accomplish this. An egalitarian culture is sufficient to accomplish it all.
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