WASHINGTON, Dec. 24, 2015 – When Europeans first arrived in America, most learning occurred at home. Parents taught their children, or, if their families could afford it, private tutors did the job. Otherwise, children spent their time helping out on the family farm.
There were plenty of math, science, and business classes on that farm.
The idea of public education was put forth first by Puritans in this country. They established schools to teach not just the essentials—reading, writing and math—but also to reinforce their core values.
After the American Revolution, Thomas Jefferson advocated a broader educational system. He suggested that tax dollars be used to fund it. His pleas were ignored, and the idea for a public school system languished for nearly a century.
By the 1840s, several public schools had popped up around the country in the communities that could afford them. However, this wasn’t good enough for education crusaders Horace Mann of Massachusetts and Henry Barnard of Connecticut. They began calling for free, compulsory school for every child in the nation.
By 1918, all American children were required to attend at least elementary school. At the turn of the 20th century, schools in the South, and many in the North, were segregated. In the 1954 Supreme Court ruling, Brown v. Board of Education, public schools became open to people of all races.
Alumni of America’s educational system from 1918 to 1960—a system founded on high standards, national pride and competition—were innovators largely responsible for today’s technological marvels. They produced the microwave, television, radio, computers, telephones and video games, and they even sent men to the moon.
In the medical field, they performed heart transplants, kidney transplants, knee replacement and brain surgery; they reattached body parts and cured numerous diseases.
In the sciences, they learned how to unleash the atom, resulting in nuclear power, and they unlocked the secrets of our DNA. For example, on July 1996, Dolly was born, a female sheep and the first mammal to be cloned from an adult somatic cell using the process of nuclear transfer.
Engineers of that period got by on slide rules while stationed at mechanical drawing tables. With slide rules they designed airplanes, submarines, automobiles, ships and the prototype of the space shuttle. There were no personal computers in public or private schools back then.
Students of that generation learned things the old fashioned way. They were taught the three Rs: reading, writing and (a)rithmetic.
As for discipline, it only took one teacher with one paddle, or yardstick, and a firm whack on an unruly child’s bottom to maintain order in the classroom.
It was a time when success and achievement were rewarded, even set as a goal. This was a generation that understood that equal and equality had two distinct and very different meanings. Socially, the national focus was on equality.
Fast forward to today. and the motive of education seems to be more to make everything and everyone equal. Achievement is often unrewarded for fear of contributing to someone else’s sense of low self-esteem. In some schools, achievement, even in the area of sports, is often frowned upon.
Today, violence runs rampant in most urban school settings. Discipline problems are dealt with at the school principal’s level. Police officers are sometimes present as armed guards.
And what are our children learning? The educational curriculum today seems to be more about cross-gender acceptance, multiculturalism, environmental indoctrination and adopting a global identity, not a national one.
Collectivism and other tenets of socialism and communism are praised while individuality and capitalism are demonized. Boys are becoming more like girls and girls more like boys. It is an America in decline.
If this trend is not reversed, America will no longer produce the greatest minds and create the greatest marvels the world has ever seen. And if the assault on the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights by its leaders continues, this will no longer be an exceptional country but a third world one.
When and where did we go wrong?
This country’s takeover occurred while America slept, and it will only change when America awakens. Contrary to popular belief, and what government would have its citizens believe, the power remains with the people. That is the way it was meant to be.
Citizens of this country can make the difference and must make a difference. But time is running out. We’ve already approached $18 trillion in national debt, thanks to our career politicians. And it is still rising.
It is not even certain if our children comprehend the financial burden and possible economic ruin they are facing down the road. Many of them cannot even add, subtract, divide or multiply.
So how do we fix this?
The “slide rule” generation born and raised before 1960 is the generation that is going to have to save this beleaguered generation. They can do this by encouraging the “me” generation to become more informed about and more involved in politics.
They do this by educating them about the great generations before them, as well as about the great minds and achievements that came out of those generations.
Politics is where money and power lie. And along with it, our future.
Next article coming your way: Meeting The Needs Of Gifted Children From A Parent’s Perspective
http://people.howstuffworks.com/public-schools1.htm and the author’s personal experience.