Today, advancement in the public schools depends on race, creed, color, sex, and national origin, on time served, docility, pernicious pseudopsychology, tolerance of pointless make-work, on preference for form over substance. Learning anything is irrelevant. Indeed it is discouraged, as it might increase the self-esteem of the smart. What counts is absorbing group-think like a napkin in a beer spill. The important things are doing witless homework and pasting pictures in stupid projects. This is pure hell for the very bright, and tends strongly to favor girls, who are more likely to do things they know to be stupid.Emphasis mine.
Sherman, set the Way-Back Machine for Crete-Monee High School, 1983. There I am, in "Consumer Economics", being assigned a project to "furnish a house on a budget". The proof the student must provide that he did the project: cut out pictures of furniture and paste them on sheets of paper representing rooms of the home. *sigh*
Everything Fred says in this article is dead-on. Dead. On.
Public schools are worthless, but even more so to smart kids. I learned more on my own about everything than I learned from the coursework.
Here's how my "ancient history" course was taught:
The teacher would drone slowly, "The Romans, comma, ruled by Julius Caeser, comma, were--" That's right; the teacher dictated notes to the class. I liked that teacher--he was a great guy--but his teaching methods were the worst.
On the other hand you always knew what would be on the tests.
I attended a pretty crappy high school--there is no arguing that point--and I know there are better ones out there. But even attending a "better" high school than CMHS would not have fixed what was wrong with my education; I needed to be in college where (at the time) useful things were still being taught. But I couldn't get out of high school; there was no legal way for me to leave, so instead of getting to learn as much as I possibly could I was forced to plod along with stupid make-work and dictated notes.
Any subject that interested me, I mastered--period. I found physics intensely interesting and I was all over it, but the teacher thought I should be doing busywork instead of learning physics. I had the chapter on lenses and refraction down cold but hadn't done any actual homework--end result, he humiliated me in front of the entire class by spending five minutes dressing me down, in detail, about how I was a poor student etc etc. (Yeah, wonderful teaching technique, eh?) It wasn't that I couldn't determine the answer for a specific problem; it was that I hadn't done it to his specification that annoyed him.
"Consumer economics" is required by Illinois law; a student must pass it in order to graduate--and so it's watered-down, so thoroughly that even the biggest idiot in the class can pass it. I found it such an abysmal waste of neurotransmitters I failed it--twice.
I was reading at a college level in fifth grade. (And possibly earlier. Fifth grade was when I was given a battery of tests to check my intelligence and to see if I had any learning disabilities. Which I didn't.)
But public schools, as Fred mentions, are not there for education. They are there for indoctrination and regimentation. They are pseudo-Marxist in that they call it a success when everyone gets a "B" and no one stands out, regardless of what the kids can do or want to do. Kids must be trained to be good citizens and consumers, not taught how to think for themselves (which is the crime of individualism) or to achieve.
Kids who are incarcerated in public schools achieve in spite of their educations, not because of them.
That's why we have a preponderance of doctors and engineers from foreign countries--that's why we have to have them--because American children are taught according to the Homer Simpson School of Acievement: "You tried, and you failed. The lesson here: 'never try'. Trying is your first step towards failure."
I could say a lot more about this, but it's 8:30 and I have to get ready to go to work. See you all later.