|Summer 1991||REBOUND Volume 2|
Beware The Trivia Response
THE GREATEST TRAGEDY FACING HUMANITY TODAY IS THAT THE REAL PROBLEMS OF THIS EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM ARE CONCEALED BY THE MEDIA'S PRESENTATION OF ISOLATED TRIVIA AND VANITY REPORTS THAT PORTRAY THE EDUCATION OF OUR YOUTH AS IF IT WERE IMPROVING, WHILE IN REALITY THIS EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM CONTINUES TO DESTROY WHOLE GENERATIONS OF CHILDREN.
There is much being said today both on television and in newspapers and magazines about the failures of the existing educational system. People in the media, however, are equally responsible for trying to cover up this failed system through the use of trivia and vanity reports. It is not uncommon for news programs to present a story about a particular teacher or class or special education project that appears to be succeeding in spite of the failures of the educational system as a whole. Viewers must remember that these reports are often isolated incidents that reflect only a trivial, insignificant aspect of the educational system. For example, "60 Minutes" has, on more than one occasion, run a story about a teacher in New York who is teaching sex education to high school students. Now, it might even be true that some students find what this teacher has to say useful in some way, although this is highly unlikely. This is too little, too late. The fact that a group of high school students are receiving a sex education course for a couple of hours each week cannot make up for the fact that these same students have been force-fed isolated, useless data bits for thousands of hours under conditions of extreme psychological duress. The real story is not that a handful of teenagers are getting information about sex (which they most likely had prior to taking the course); the real story is that millions of teenagers have left New York high schools as empty-headed, aimless, incompetent, unskilled, mentally and emotionally destroyed zombies. The real story is that most of the students in those sex education classes cannot do anything and they have little or no hope for a decent life. So, the fact that a handful of students have taken a sex education class (which most of them perceive as a chance to get out of the regular school grind) is a trivial and insignificant matter not worthy of media attention.
It is also important to note here that sex education classes in American high schools have done nothing to reduce so-called "unwanted" pregnancies or to eliminate sexually transmitted diseases such as AIDs. All of these conditions are on the rise and appear to be increasing with the increase of sex education in the schools. Nor have these sex education classes taught teenagers anything about having or raising children. Right now, one out of every five babies born in a Harlem hospital is born crack-addicted. Those numbers also continue to rise with the increase of sex education in the schools. This same thing is also true about drug education classes. Drug education classes were introduced in schools as an attempt to help eliminate drug abuse in America. Yet, in schools where these classes were introduced, illegal drug usage increased. Similarly, suicide prevention classes held in schools now appear to cause teenagers to think about suicide more often and to take their own lives more frequently. These are the real stories.
It is also common for the media to run a story about an individual student who succeeds in the system even against difficult odds. For example, one television news program ran a story this spring about a Mexican-American teenager who came from very difficult life circumstances, but still managed to achieve academically. The girl in this story has what all academically successful superstars have-a good memory. She, like all academic superstars, has the ability to retain unrelated, isolated, meaningless data bits and then to recall those data bits while under the pressure of being tested. This is not a significant or meaningful accomplishment, in spite of what educators claim.
There is no education revolution going on in this country. In fact, there is no education going on. What is going on is the mass destruction of generations of children.
Furthermore, the fact that a small number of individuals are succeeding academically is not a sign of the current educational system's success or worth. It is a sign of this system's failure to meet the needs of the vast majority of children in this country. Not only has the educational system failed to meet the needs of this nation's children, but this system has also destroyed America's children, including the academic superstars who are among the most damaged of all. If 99 percent of a patient population dies in surgery because the surgeons refuse to wash their hands before operating, then the fact that a patient somehow manages to survive an operation because her surgeon happens to wash his hands before performing the operation is not significant. It would be significant if all surgeons concluded that operating with unwashed hands was a dangerous practice that should be changed. But this is not the case with educators. They do not believe that what they are doing is hazardous to children. So when the media runs a story about an academic superstar who represents the exception and not the rule, educators conclude that they are doing a fabulous job of educating this nation's youth. Educators, and now the media people, take the academic superstars who are the anomalies of this destructive education system and portray these anomalies as evidence that the educational system is working, when it is a blatant and obvious proven failure.
This educational system was not designed to help children to one day find rich, satisfying, productive adult lives. This system views children as "products," not as human beings. It is the intention of this system to destroy the natural interests, skills, goals, hopes and dreams of children and to turn them into empty-headed, aimless, passive, unskilled adults. This educational system was designed to cause the majority of children to fail. In this system, every grade except an "A" is perceived by the consciousness as a failure. Only the rare academic superstars with good short-term memories are successful. The majority of children are supposed to feel like academic failures, and they do.
Given this reality, you could say that the academic superstars are defects, since the majority of the "products" of this educational system experience themselves as failures. You would expect such defects, such anomalies, in any closed system which has been designed to produce a specific outcome. If you were a manufacturer of an automatic screw-making machine, you would expect that a certain percentage of screws would be defective. Of course, you would do everything in your power to keep those defects to a minimum if you wanted to stay in business. If one in every 650 screws was defective, you would probably conclude that you had a good screw-making machine. You would consider this defective screw a trivial matter and not a significant indicator of the type of results that your screw-making machine was capable of producing.
Educators and media-types are asking us to focus our attention on the rare individuals who are able to obtain perfect grades. These individuals represent the one in 650 students who do not feel like personal failures, but who are defects in this system which intends to cause children to fail. Educators and media-types are asking us to focus our attention on the rare defects and to conclude from these defects that the educational system is working in the best interest of all children. They want us to think that if all children would only try they could all become academic superstars. But this system is constructed on the bell curve. It was designed to produce feelings of personal failure in the majority of children. Academic superstars are a trivial matter and are not a significant indicator of the type of results that this educational system is capable of producing.
We live in a nation that has fallen prey to fads and glamour. It is faddish in America to send young children off to school at the earliest possible age, in spite of all the existing research evidence that points to the fact that separating children from their parents prematurely is the wrong thing to do. It is faddish in America for parents to pressure children into reading and writing and into other similar cognitive mental tasks at very young ages, even though all the existing research evidence indicates that children's brain cells, vision and hearing are not developed sufficiently to perform these tasks until children reach the ages of nine or ten.
Because we are oriented towards fads and glamour, it is easy for American television audiences to buy the media's presentations of trivia and vanity reports on the subject of education. When the media reports on rare academic superstars, the anomalies of this system, it is the same thing as parading kids down a runway who are showing us the latest fashions. The majority of children in America will never wear those clothes or be like those children. But we are all supposed to sit back and "ooh and ah" at these vanity reports. Similarly, when the media portrays a story of a fifth grade class in East Overshoe, Michigan that has been writing letters to the servicemen in the Persian Gulf, they are showing us another vanity report. We are supposed to sit back and "ooh and ah" at these children who have been forced, under conditions of extreme psychological duress, to write letters to the servicemen in the Gulf. We are not supposed to look at the fact that these children's brains have been fried and that their personal interests, goals, hopes and dreams have been permanently destroyed. We are supposed to mistake the trivia report as an indicator that this educational system is improving because a small group of fifth graders wrote letters, against their will, to men serving in the Persian Gulf. While this report may be momentarily entertaining, it causes educated people to conclude that the educational system is improving and that therefore there is no need for alarm. Furthermore, these reports are causing educated Americans to begin to view the decay and destruction inherent in this educational system in artistic terms. Think of it this way. If you were considering purchasing a house, you might hire a building inspector to survey the house before you decided to buy it. The building inspector arrives at the house, but there is such serious decay that he cannot even get through the front door. The windows are all broken, the roof has large holes. The structural members are rotting and the building is infested with wood-eating insects. The plumbing and electrical systems are non-functional. In fact, the building is in such serious decay that the building inspector tells you the house should probably be leveled to the ground.
Then, the trivia and vanity reporters from the media arrive on the scene to do a special program on the decaying house. The reporter points out the beautifully weathered wood in different shades of grey. He (or she) points out the picturesque and stately outline of this historical structure against the gorgeous orange and yellow sunset in the background. He tells his audiences to notice the last shadows of daylight as they majestically fade on the subtle, aging grey of that once hauntingly beautiful edifice. The reporter fails to point out any of the decay, the rotting timbers, the destroyed electrical and plumbing systems, and we the audience have been lured into looking away from the fact that this rotting structure should be leveled to the ground.
So it is with media reports on the subject of education. We are being lured away from the fact that this educational system is destroying generations of American children. Not once have we seen media reports that feature real experts who have researched this system and know about the harm that is being done to children every day in America's schools. We are being lured into accepting choreographed, sanitized, dinner-hour trivia school features while our children are being mentally, emotionally and spiritually mutilated in these places.
Do not be fooled. The trivia and vanity reports do not portray an accurate presentation of what is happening to children in this nation's schools. These reports are being done by people who have been able to use the falsity of academic success to propel themselves into media positions. They are not people who are willing to present hard research evidence. Viewers must ask themselves who is doing the reporting? Who is being considered an "expert" on the subject of education? (A teacher whose own job is at stake.) Where is the research evidence to show that this educational system is good for children?
The fact that a small number of individuals are succeeding academically is not a sign of the current educational system's success or worth. It is a sign of this system's failure to meet the needs of the vast majority of children in this country.
Some individual media reporters know about the research on the subject of education, but they are either not allowed or are unwilling to take an honest stand. None of the popular news programs are willing to pull the plug on their educated audiences. Furthermore, sponsors are not willing to pay for programs that may cause angry viewers to boycott their products.
Politicians certainly are not going to tell the truth about what is happening to children in schools. Educators represent the largest union in the world. The educational system employs some 20 to 30 million people and represents the largest industry in the world. That's a lot of votes! In other words, the single most destructive and backward childrearing practice called American education is here to stay, and you the reader, like us, can do nothing about it.
The news media in this country is trying to promote the idea that there is an education revolution going on in this nation. This is nothing more than a faddish media hype. There is no education revolution going on in this country. In fact, there is no education going on. What is going on is the mass destruction of generations of children. What media types, politicians and educators are talking about is not an education revolution, but an attempt on the part of educators and politicians to organize a destructive system into something even more destructive.
Television interviewers and politicians talk about returning to the golden days of yesteryear, when a much higher percentage of high school graduates could read, write and do simple math. But what they do not see is that the high school graduates of 50 years ago were as wasted and gutted out as high school graduates are today. The only difference is that the parents of high school graduates of 50 years ago were still linked to physical reality and were a part of a graphically and mechanically functional society. High school graduates were still linked through their parents to this functioning existence. This is to say that the parents of high school graduates of 50 years ago still knew how to do things in the world. They were people who fixed their own cars, repaired their own plumbing and electrical problems, and rebuilt their own homes. Parents of most high school graduates today cannot do any of these things. They have no connections or linkages to physical reality, and the survival of this society is now seriously threatened. People can no longer build, make or repair the things that they need and use everyday. If some natural or man-made disaster occurred, the high school graduates of today and their parents could not rebuild this nation.
It would be more accurate to say that America is having an Education Involution which may well lead to an education civil war. This nation is going backward, becoming more dysfunctional, while the educational system is becoming more destructive. There is an education revolution only if wandering, illiterate oafs could have a revolution. Educators and politicians are so lost and so out of touch that their idea of an education revolution is to put new curtains in the principal's office. In fact, judging by some of what educators and politicians say in television interviews about how they plan to revolutionize the educational system, it sounds as if they plan to forget about the new curtains in the principal's office and just freshen up the old ones by spraying them with "self-styling Adorn." For a few minutes, the hair spray gives the curtains a nice glisten. But after the hair spray wears off, the curtains are harder and more rigidified than ever before.