A 4-time Teacher of the Year explains that schools are not failing - they are doing exactly what they are designed to do. But the good news is your kids don't have to be inmates:
Once you understand the logic behind modern schooling, its tricks and traps are fairly easy to avoid. School trains children to be employees and consumers; teach your own to be leaders and adventurers. School trains children to obey reflexively; teach your own to think critically and independently.Excellent education requires innovation, the act of creating an educational experience tailored toward the child. All children are different and they all learn differently. One size fits them all in education as well as it does in bathing suits.
Well-schooled kids have a low threshold for boredom; help your own to develop an inner life so that they'll never be bored. Urge them to take on the serious material, the grown-up material, in history, literature, philosophy, music, art, economics, theology - all the stuff schoolteachers know well enough to avoid. Challenge your kids with plenty of solitude so that they can learn to enjoy their own company, to conduct inner dialogues. Well-schooled people are conditioned to dread being alone, and they seek constant companionship through the TV, the computer, the cell phone, and through shallow friendships quickly acquired and quickly abandoned.
Your children should have a more meaningful life, and they can.
But in a system as large - and politicized - as the public schools, there is no more room for innovation than there was in early medieval agriculture, and for the same reason: innovation brings variability of results. Sometimes when you innovate you win big, sometimes you lose big, and such is not acceptable for the public schools, because they are a product of the masses, of the lowest common denominator. Consistency, even a mediocre consistency, is the goal.
And they all play on the golf-course,
And drink their Martini dry,
And they all have pretty children,
And the children go to school.
And the children go to summer camp
And then to the university,
And they all get put in boxes
And they all come out the same.
-- Little Boxes