The topic of education is still rearing its ugly head in Pickens County and this time Common Core is at the epicenter. Am I going to choose sides on Common Core in this column? No, I’m going to answer the question of what happened to the education system in the United States.
Simple task or have I simply lost my mind? There are days I’m not even sure anymore as I look at what should be simple and am perplexed by how hard we make things. That, alas, is a topic for another day.
Common Core, state standards, No Child Left Behind, standardized testing, and the continued debates over how to best educate our children are interminably linked. There was a time when our education system was number one in the industrialized world and slowly we continue to slide down the list. It seems the more we tinker with the system the worse we make the problem.
So how did we get here? We just couldn’t leave well enough alone.
A lack of common sense, not Common Core or any of its misshaped siblings spawned by the brilliance of our federal government, is the reason our children are now lagging behind in the classroom where once we were the gold standard of education.
But as with most things where people are involved, especially when those people are government people, what works isn’t good enough.
A mere concentration on the three R’s had to be replaced by new concepts, new theories of teaching, and new curriculum developed based on some hypothetical model where making children feel good about themselves replaced preparing them for the world in conjunction with their skill levels.
Let’s face it, somewhere along the way we became a culture that refuses to accept the notion not everyone is special, and the lessons of winning and losing are just as important as the ability to find the square root of any given number when it comes to life, if you ask me.
Competition is frowned upon, no one is to be allowed to feel different from the rest of the class, and a system based on merit is gone. Where the best and brightest were once nurtured for their gifts, those students are now being stifled in their educational development because they are too far ahead of the curve.
The goal now seems to be having every single student at the same level of education, but even more, at the same level of intelligence, because of some misguided concept of a level playing field.
Newsflash: The field is level and we all operate under the same set of rules with the only variation being our socio-economic status. No matter how many parents don’t want to hear it, no one is born special except to their family. The special people in the world are the ones who work hard and do something special. Being special isn’t something bestowed out of entitlement but earned by individual effort and contribution.
So, now we have classrooms across the country filled with children whose expectations are set too high. The government is setting standards and culture is slowly disintegrating in upon itself. You can’t walk down the street for fear of losing an eye from all the fingers being pointed. And all because being number one in the world just wasn’t good enough.
Want to fix the educational system in America? Then let’s go back and do it the way we used to, back to the days when we were the benchmark internationally. Obviously something was working. It was simple and it worked, end of story.
John F. Kennedy once said, “A child miseducated is a child lost,” and 50 years later those words are still true. It’s not too late, as long as someone stands up, points out the obvious mistakes we have made and does a quick U-turn. But we have to remember going forward: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
D. C. Moody is a staff writer for The Easley Progress, The Pickens Sentinel and Powdersville Post and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not represent the newspaper’s opinion.