It’s not Where they learn, but WHAT they learn!
By Edith Morgan
There’s a big rush to get the kids back to school: Our working parents need to get back to work, kids are bored, and those who can not afford all the latest technology are falling further behind on all the material that gets tested.
So there are so many good reasons to get the students all back in school, as soon as it is safe. But as a retired school teacher and former Worcester School Committee member, I worry that we have paid almost no attention to WHY we have public schools in the first place! For me, the curriculum – WHAT students are to master – is the heart of the enterprise. And to make it all fair, equitable, and useful for a lifetime as decent human beings, life-long learners, good citizens, with the skills to learn new skills in an ever changing society
Curriculum is the heart of it all.
Public schools should never be a money-making enterprise, and should be decently funded for ALL our students, so that some of the social inequities that exist everywhere will not be visited on our children. And the most skilled teachers should be teaching those most in need of help, even if that means extra pay and other perks to level the playing field where society has not.
All our children will grow up to be citizens, voters, and full-fledged members of what I hope will be a democratic society.
This month we celebrate “Black History” and I am all for that. But we need a lot more K-12 attention to all of our history – and how we got where we are now. As I watched the events of January 6th, THE US CAPITOL SIEGE, I was particularly appalled at the gross ignorance of many in the violent crowd and at how very easy it was for a demagogue like Donald Trump to mold them into an unthinking juggernaut bent on destroying our fragile democratic framework.
How well did those people learn that the freedom of speech guaranteed to us in our Constitution is not totally limitless. We all know about the examples everyone has heard: you can not yell “fire“ in a crowded theater, you can not plagiarize other people’s work … Are we really teaching and modeling the proper interpretation of these rights, so that every high school graduate really understands there are limits to everything? And above all, that each of us in a democracy – and has to think for him/herself and take responsibility for that?
Remember Adolph Eichmann’s defense for the abominations committed under the Third Reich: “I was just following orders.” Did we all hear some of the rioters on January 6th tell us that, “My President told me to do this”?
It is high time that our public schools prepare our graduates to be more than just good worker bees! We need to prepare every student to be able to think critically, to accept responsibility for his/her own actions, and to have a solid hold on reality. In this day of seductive media, mostly motivated by greed, our schools need to equip our kids with the defenses they need to keep from becoming the unthinking victims of those who would use them for their own gain, like Trump.
“Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.”