It seems to me that we are always fighting yesterday’s battles in this country. We have let the quality of our education in the United States decay badly. We put up all kinds of political barriers in what we can teach, we give teachers no ability to maintain discipline in the classrooms, and we focus on issues that are relatively unimportant in preparing students for the art of being human.
The big emphasis that the bureaucrats are no demanding in school is math and science. These certainly have some importance in educating our children, but only in the broadest terms. But in most schools we are focusing on these areas to the almost total neglect of such subjects as history, music, writing, economics, civics, philosophy, and so many other subjects that are so integral to what makes us human, and has allowed us to create the great societies that currently exist but are fast disappearing.
Humanity, and by nature humans, has succeeded because it has been able to develop and evolve in unorthodox ways. At present we seem to be doing everything possible to create children who have no perspective on the world around them. They don’t know our history, or how our government works. They don’t really know or understand the finer points of the different societies embraced by the rest of the world. Almost no one is being raised to be cognizant of the origins or tenets of the different religions of the world, and why they play such a role in everyone’s lives. Our children wander through life learning hard lessons over and over, rather than learning what a great teacher the shared emotions and mistakes of the past can be.
They don’t know about the Civil War, or segregation, or Hitler, Stalin, the Khmer Rouge, and the American revolution. They have no exposure to how science has evolved, the cycles of human emotion, the world before smart phones, or the stretching of the human mind that comes from philosophy, art, and the social sciences.
Instead we focus on the current trends in science and math which seem to occupy all of their time and yet yield many young people who can’t use any kind of initiative in unexpected circumstances. Their math requires many times more steps to solve the simple problems and leaves them in a world where they can’t even make change.
We are preparing them to compete with artificial intelligence, which is a battle they will surely lose.
As usual we are focusing on the wrong things at the wrong time. The flexibility and adaptability of human beings are what separate us from the robots of the world. We need to be giving our children the chance to develop the skills that can’t be easily duplicated by AI.
Let’s start exercising the other parts of the brain, where compassion, self-discovery, music, interpersonal relationships, and learning from our past makes us better citizens and better leaders.
Yes as a student and lover of the arts, I do carry some bias, but anyone who actually looks at our systems results and failures, should come to the same conclusion.
If we try to be computer processors, we will lose the battle. We need to maintain the special skills and aptitudes that have allowed humanity to succeed. Give our children a chance in this rapidly changing world.
I am including a poem Ghosts from my new book Ball of String , which in a very small way, alludes to the problems described. It deals with the need to understand our planets evolution and the price paid by those who lose the ability to respond to change in an unforgiving world. Most of all we need to understand our own humanity…and our vulnerability, if we forget who and what we are.
The caption under the photo reads: “Nothing occurs without what came before”.
Glenn K. Currie
Tall grass and ancient forests
Hide their origins and endings.
Rulers of the Earth,
Dust to dust.
Transformed in deep graves,
By a universe that wastes nothing,
They rose again,
Born to be eaten
By their replacements.
New creatures, that breathe fire,
Burn the air.
They birth civilizations,
That make the ground tremble,
The stars blink.
They grow to the sky,
Eating the tall grass,
The oceans and the forests.
As they search for food,
They release the ghosts.
Ghosts who know the cycles,
Unencumbered by time.
And the universe
That wastes nothing.
They have seen it before.
Copyright Glenn K. Currie 2020