My clever University-student grand-daughter asked “So, why do we even need teachers? Or even schools? All we need is proper computer programming, and they can learn by following along on their computer.”
Wooh, good question, why, indeed, given that our kids can graduate from high school without being able to do basic math, or understand basic grammar.
Or given that exploitation and abuse are rampant at the same time as teachers cannot even comfort a skinned knee for fear of persecution. Given that school is a convenient whipping boy for parents to blame for every kid not ending up a brain surgeon. Given that the kids psyches are warped by a rigid class system which primarily depends on how fast a child matures, and where the wrong brand of running shoes can consign one to perpetual purgatory as socially unacceptable. Given that sorting kids into even-aged groups when in fact they develop at different rates, thus forcing them into unequal competition for social standing, could be about as cruel a treatment as could be devised. Given that bullying and exploitation go un-noticed in the large herd that is the student body. Given that proper food and exercise are not even on the radar screen. Given that all these take away from the supposed benefit of learning to socialize in a healthy way.
Add to that how students time is considered of little value, hours routinely wasted while the bureaucracy grinds on. Decisions are made by bureaucrats far removed from the classroom. Good teachers are hamstrung by bureaucracy, while powerful unions mean that incompetents cannot be disciplined much less fired.
Why indeed do we need schools; little wonder the fastest growing trend in Canada is home schooling. And it would grow a lot faster were it not for government pressures; after all, how can we brainwash them if we don’t get control of them?
The problem starts with the ‘bigger is better’ mentality which has prevailed in the education bureaucracy for some 40 years now. After all, bigger schools mean more activities, more facilities, more choices and more specialization. Unfortunately, bigger also means more crime, drugs, bullying; more social segregation, less personal attention or even proper recordkeeping. It means more time wasted on buses, and of course more bureaucracy with more mind-numbing regulations.
So there has to be an optimum size for schools, a ‘goldilocks zone’, to use present terminology, not to big, not too small. Modern thinking is the optimum size is small enough so every teacher knows every kid by name and even something about him/her. It has been proposed this would be a max of 300 kids in one school.
Teachers would be able to relate to kids, one on one, as people, not as anonymous ciphers, and pretty much know everything that is going on, so crime and drugs would be minimized. Kids would learn to interact socially in a civilized fashion, not the jungle primitive way of our large schools. Helping and playing among kids of different age groups and maturity levels would allow them to learn leadership and be inspired to be all they can be.
Maybe in about 20 years our cities will see the 5000 student dens of evil and waste replaced with 300 student cells of education excellence. Or maybe not. In the meantime, we are fortunate in that our smaller towns mean smaller schools. We need to fight closing our smaller schools just to be fashionable, at the expense of ridiculously long bus-rides and waste of kid’s time. Just another Contrarian opinion