I think I may have been a tad wrong a few years back when I wrote a feisty gut-check newspaper column about what we ought to do with surly, pugnacious disruptive public school students.
Just a tad.
And perhaps now I may be equivocating only because I am paranoid. By that I mean that whenever so many people agree with me I feel I must be wrong. And, not to be overtly cynical, but I’ve learned that most everything that is popular is likely — and most often — dead wrong.
Besides, no one should be ashamed to admit they may have been wrong. It is nothing more than admitting that I am wiser today than I was yesterday.
What I wrote back then was direct and fierce.
I said that while I may not agree with corporal punishment (I lied because I didn’t want gym teachers to turn into amok skin heads) what I proffered was much more of a family resolution. That you invite the brazen, insolent, petulant child’s parents — including, single, divorced, absentee and foster — into the principal’s office. Bolt the door. Pick up a ‘two x four’ and beat them mercilessly.
Then if their ‘tales’ are still prevaricating and quibbling after sunset – you beat them again.
And if they survive you attach-and-lock a kryptonite electronic bracelet about their harebrained necks as well as that of their juvenile delinquent. At that you inform these reprobates of their parental and civilized duties to G-d and country. Then you provide a couple of sample mega jolts with a poignant admonishment:
If there are any more problems, you tell them through steely eyes, you will zap this ignominious nuclear family with enough nuclear wattage to sterilize even their most distant subatomic relatives. In the end it won’t only be their pubic hair that goes utterly straight.
So, now that you’ve been warned, go forth and sin no more.
And you thought the G-d of the Old Testament was a tough SOB.
But, of course, I am wiser today. I realize that for every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple… and wrong. I think I should have said that ALL of us (as in, even me!) should be attached and locked to those kryptonite electronic bracelets. And zapped regularly. I mean, the least it could do is motivate us to reactivate our consciences. Not to mention provide a cure for apathy.
Zap! Buzz! Hiss! Whop! Bam! Zap!… Shock therapy for one and all. Give me another indiscriminate shot, bartender, and make it hurt.
But of course!
This mental twitch has been reignited lately by stories in my local press about some distressing disturbances in more than a few Philadelphia public schools. Like many underfunded, understaffed and under-educating facilities in the rust-bucket cities of America, several of these failing POW camps have long become little more than obstacle courses in survival.
Administrators have been bashed by students and suffered concussions and broken necks. Teachers lock their classroom doors and pray. Cops are called almost daily just for the ‘major’ ruckuses. And, worst of all, those students who actually come to school to hopefully learn something they-didn’t-know-that-they-didn’t-know are learning little more than how to endure an atmosphere of retching fear.
To put it mildly, matters are a mess. We’ve really screwed up…again.
Yet like our corrupt political system and non kosher corporate greed the rest of us remain mostly indifferent. We don’t seem to care what they be doing as long as they don’t be doing it on my front lawn and scaring the horses.
In other words, there’s trouble warp-speeding down our highways. And we’re frozen in its headlights. To make matters even more shrill it’s not a problem we can just throw money at.
Like Obamacare did to our byzantine medical business there can be little doubt that our education system desperately needs to be eviscerated, reformulated and reinitiated. It is another big-big business that has fallen way-way behind the future. It should be fired and executed. It’s giving us bad service. And like a haughty waiter it still demands a big tip.
Enough with all this pathetic tweaking by our futile institutions and botched experts. Furthermore, enough with our venal, vapid legislators who keep shortchanging on educating the future.
There is a severe lack of innovation and ambitious remedy. Yet today is the tomorrow we fretted about yesterday. And tomorrow belongs to those who are educated today.
To put it bluntly for those of us out there who barely speak more than body language: Without education, training or experience to start our kids in the right direction, they ain’t gonna amount to nothing but driftwood. For education is here to instill the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self-confidence. It supposedly provides the intuitive means of discerning the bullshit and lies that people (like me) tell you.
This is a crisis that runs down the mountain and spills all over the valleys of shame and blame. From the dysfunctional core family, to uninspiring educational practices, to dismissive racism to all the way to our rampant myopic greed that has become a fatal actuarial cancer on the entire Republic.
As a result, when we steal people’s future possibilities they resort to sins of the past.
What we have left among us, in ever growing numbers, is a cesspool of festering anger. We are producing generations that are incapable of thinking how to get out of this place – even if it’s the first thing they’ve got to do.
Just remember, the illiterate of the future will not be merely the person who cannot read or reason. It will be the person who does not know how to learn and how to think things through.
And fools deduce only from their prejudices. And with that comes fury and frustration from degradation. And then we have déjà vu all over again. Some of you may recognize it as the French or Bolshevik revolutions.
Indeed. We pay a price for everything. A child miseducated is a child lost. When our schools fail, prisons prosper. When we move our jobs overseas we abandon the salvation of the very people upon which we depend – the masses – so that the rest of us can aspire to live with the classes.
But who do you call for help when even the police, the politicians, our institutions, our corporations as well as the law itself are snookering us? And you wonder why so many people are escaping the stress and despair through drugs and alcohol?
The problem has become so complex because our failings are so elementary — in our civic duty, our religious duty and our moral duty. It is also our economic duty. To keep our back’s strong we need strong minds. We need to inspire to aspire. We can’t just import this stuff.
Certainly you don’t need me to point out that if someone is going down the wrong road, he doesn’t need motivation to speed him up. What he needs is schooling to turn him around.
And it’s no secret that learning is not attained by chance; it must be sought with ardor and diligence. But everything has become so paradoxical. The stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.
What we don’t seem to recognize is that where the telescope ends the microscope begins. We need bigger and better innovation.
We don’t need more education; we need better education. We don’t need more teachers; we need better teachers. We don’t need more parents; we need better parents. We don’t need more schools; we need better schools. We don’t need more politicians; we need better politicians. We don’t need more money; we need better money. We don’t need more bureaucracy; we need better bureaucracy. We don’t need more discipline; we need better discipline…
We don’t need more and more, we need better and better. Through the telescope we set our destination. Through the microscope we chart our course.
In case you never knew it: We are born ignorant, not stupid.
Hmm… I think I got that right.
And education’s purpose is to replace an empty mind with an open one. Instead, it has become one of the chief obstacles to intelligence and freedom of thought. And the roadblock, as always, is that the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.
Like I said at the start, I may have been a tad wrong years back when I wrote about what we should do with the growing army of despondent and unruly students who are cocksure about wanting to remain dumb, ignorant and stupid. You don’t need to be clairvoyant to see that unless we legalize cannibalism these future prisoners will be good for little more than cutting our throats.
Then again there is profit in such misery. Indeed, extreme hope is born from extreme misery.
Meanwhile we procrastinate to exacerbate the great educational divide. The most distressing thing that can happen to a prophet is to be proved wrong. The next most distressing thing is to be proved right — because it is dangerous to be right in matters on which the established authorities are wrong. It interferes with their business interests. Which is just about the only matter they are not indifferent to.
The most influential of all educational factors is the conversation in a child’s home. Sooner-than-later the conversation is going to change. And that’s when matters are going to get very interesting, if not raucous. For change always begins with discontent. And dissatisfied customers are never good for established business.
And dats yDrewIS on dis penal colony…