It’s Academic

25 Feb

In the history of the world there have been many great and prosperous civilizations and they have all failed. And usually at the time of the failing some few folks had all of the money and most other folks had none. They were either Kings or Queens or Popes or Emperors or Czars or Caesars or Pharaohs or whatever and they always invoked the divine right of the gods as the reason for concentrating all of that wealth in the hands of one man or one small circle of family and friends. Eventually the disenfranchised, poor populace grows disinterested and disaffected and the empire succumbs to a force of outsiders who invade and plunder. While the wealthy few run away or hide or are murdered or all 3! Then the new conquerors share in the plunder and even rejoice while sharing, and then the cycle begins anew as the new leaders emerge and invariably begin indulging in their own grandeur until…

Fortunately we no longer have empires such as those in the world today but we still have world leaders who rule with concentrated power and wealth. In the United States however, our president is not among the wealthiest men in the nation and we have no all powerful despot who rules with an iron hand under the divine rights of either religion or lineage but we still have concentrated wealth in the hands of a few and those few are now the business and corporate leaders of the world. Where we once had popes and kings we now have CEOs and corporations (The latter which ironically enough have recently been declared to be persons by our Supreme Court composed of actually real people!) and they have quite a large amount of wealth at their disposal which is growing while the wealth of the common population is shrinking. This is the historical recipe for national disaster. No matter how vast and distant the empire may reach, when the interior rots the empire always withers and dies.

Our public schools represent that interior. They are the nucleus which fuels the fire of freedom and free enterprise. We have built our greatness from the inside out and we look to replenish our strengths and our greatness through the rebirth and reaffirmation of our ideals in our children. In our best of times, We have spread our influence through the free trade and free movement of our citizens and by setting an example of economic wealth that can be earned and shared and experienced by all and not concentrated within a few.

Our public schools must be fortified and not abandoned. They must be embraced and enhanced and empowered in terms of anticipating and responding to technological, social, political, economic, and competitive change. Healthy cultures must always be willing to rethink their most basic assumptions about themselves in order to improve and grow and repair their societies and we must be willing to accept that what our schools need now more than ever is not a cut in spending but rather a renewed effort to spend more on the future and the future generations who will lead us.

Today’s students are willing to work hard but what makes us think that they are going to be willing to work hard for low wages that would suffice a life in China or India or some other-where where they don’t live? America’s corporate leaders and great men of wealth need to stop hoarding and start spreading the wealth. They can begin by first embracing the public schools of this country with largess and generosity and then by raising wages across the middle and poorer classes of society so that the term “working poor” is eradicated from our vocabulary.

Today’s students of the 21st century in America are beginning to notice that it is getting harder and harder to bring the American dream, a dream of studying hard then working hard, and then achieving affluence, into focus and for most of our poorest students that dream is nothing more than a taunting apparition of their hopelessness: a happy meal that they will never be able to afford

7 Responses to “It’s Academic”

  1. Nigtingale February 25, 2015 at 5:42 am #

    Thank you for giving your attention to education.

  2. avwalters February 25, 2015 at 6:47 am #

    “We have never expanded our influence by conquering other nations and bending their citizens to our will.”

    Ah, but there is where you are mistaken. While the general premise works, you are fooling yourself if you think that we haven’t conquered and bent to our will. Look at our history. How many Noriegas, Khadafis, and Saddams have we trained, funded and tolerated until they grew too big to control? How often has our foreign policy forced our “client states” to purchase unwanted weapons, or chemicals or foods? I don’t dispute that our greatest successes grew out of education and a “can do” optimism and energy, but it has been subsidized by economic (and environmental) colonialism.

    • emmylgant February 25, 2015 at 8:35 am #

      I totally agree. From the very beginning it seems to me it has been thus. We chose not to remember or not to think about the swath of destruction and misery that our ‘democracy’ and ‘prosperity’ inflict(ed) on people everywhere.

    • gpicone February 26, 2015 at 1:54 am #

      Sadly, you are correct. I got carried away and now I feel like Bill O’Reilly or President Dubya!

  3. Outlier Babe February 25, 2015 at 4:46 pm #

    Today’s students, both from my direct observations, and from what I have heard and read from teachers who were in the field long enough to see the slide occur, are absolutely NOT willing to work hard. Obviously, there are many exceptions, and differences in geographic and economic area according to which debate you want to get into, but:

    Bottom line is, unparenting via SPOILING (no expectation of chores, rewards for whining, no doesn’t mean no) and UNLIMITED access to unhealthy modelling (media showing disrespect for adults and those outside the family unit or whatever other “pride” the star is a member of)–

    plus the lack of basic developmental unstructured play–physical manipulation of and interaction with the 3D world and its objects–

    has led us to where we are:

    Students who view a teacher as if s/he is an irrelevant moving object behind a wall of glass. Students who can be demonstrated in some cases to be unable to copy down information from a whiteboard to the paper before them (lack of visualization ability). Students whose parents view schools solely as a free babysitting service, and thus students who have no intention or motivation to pay attention or behave–there will be no negative consequences if they do not.

    The TV and game devices will remain in their reach at home–in their bedroom. They will still have their cellphone.

    What–ME worry?

    Add the public schools’ and public’s lack of respect for teachers, and the schools’ lack of effective and consistent discipline policy–blaming it all on teachers’ poor “classroom management”–

    Oh, brother.

    I’m not saying GREAT teachers can’t make a difference, but please don’t say students are willing to work hard, as a generalization. They certainly are not. Not unless you snag ’em young or seduce them with sexy group projects that require a teacher to sacrifice her/his own family to produce and manage on top of the other workload. Which is, frankly, bullsh#t. Its what I did, and if I had it to do over, I wouldn’t. My two, whom I HAD parented, were worth more each year than those 32-33 others, most of whose parents HADN’T.

    • gpicone February 26, 2015 at 7:59 pm #

      Sounds like what you are describing is the inevitable fall of another “great” civilization. Do you foresee any solutions? (other than turning back time, which of course can never be done) In this corporate world of ever increasing consumerism, proper parenting has become detrimental to corporate and consumer growth, I don’t disagree with much of what you have said. I taught for 33 years and it seems to me that the next “big” idea to come out of the corporate world will be to say that if America’s teachers are now America’s babysitters simply pay the teachers like babysitters, gut their pay and pensions and transfer that wealth into the stock market and watch it grow!

      • Outlier Babe February 26, 2015 at 8:20 pm #

        I think that eventually, universal standardized preschool will be achieved, only because it will be in the 1%’s (or top 10%’s) interests to better control the masses, and obvious that grooming them away from their parent’s” influences and toward those of business and advertising’s is a smart strategy. It is then that we MAY be able to effect universal literacy via sitting all tots dumbly, passively in front of “Teach Your Baby To Read” and “follow the bouncing ball” (captioned) vids, and vids with wholesome, happy moral stories, before our corporate overlords tumble to what we are up to. For the last thing they want, as you indicate, is a literate, optimistic, informed, thinking, and thoughtful populace. These make lousy anxious, greedy consumer automatons.

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