(Written originally on Sept. 12, 2013 in response to a Michael J. Fox Facebook meme stating “If the child can’t learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn.”)
I disagree, Michael. Schools, at least public schools, were never designed to be private tutoring agencies. They were designed to be socializing agents, meaning the student was taught how to fit what society felt were the important things a person needed to know and also about being a member of that society. This was done using what was called a classical education…. which all began to change in the 1960s, as we abandoned the concept that there could be any absolute truths, and began to see the world as a mass of relativity. What has resulted is a world in which there are no truths any more, and that your truth is just as valid as my truth, even though yours (or mine) might be far, far away from anything remotely reasonable, let alone the Truth.*
Relativity has impacted the educational community by evolving to the conclusion that there can be no set standards by which to measure a child since each child is measurable only to him/herself, and thus must be taught individually. As a career teacher, now retired, I found myself asking the question, how can I possibly write 30 individual lesson plans for every student in my class (times 5 classes)? Nor is it possible for school districts to hire one-on-one teachers for every student (although by being forced to try, the Special Education budgets in many districts are sinking them, and the regular ed students are on the receiving end of the cuts). It would all be nice in theory, yes, but it’s not only physically impossible, it’s fundamentally a bad idea because it destroys the very essence of public education. Bottom line, we have devolved to a point where the school must fit the child, and abandoned the much-healthier concept of the child fitting the school (and therefore their society).
February, 2015 addendum
*Thus, Wisconsin Governor (and presidential candidate) Scott Walker’s recent attempt to strike “search for Truth” from the Wisconsin state universities’ mission statement of 19th century origin makes a certain amount of sense. It also exposes the schizophrenic nature of today’s Republican party philosophy, which constantly spouts Christianity, but when it comes down to it seems to want to deny the possibility of finding any Truth.