This article is written to point out the serious flaws in American public education—which affects all races, cultures, and communities—but in particular for secondary levels, middle school through high school.
The primary flaw is that the system’s structure is dedicated to college preparation with little regard for abilities and occupations that colleges ignore or are ill-designed for. Those who do not fit the secondary college preparatory system are offered little to nothing for life or career preparation.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics informs us that approximately 30 percent of jobs require a college degree, which encompasses associates through graduate levels; however, there is approximately 40 percent of people that possess a college degree.
This means 10 percent are overqualified and underemployed with undervalued credentials—with many of them burdened with college debt and little means to repay it.
Thus, 60 percent of the school-age population was marginalized by the secondary school system and the undervalued 10 percent that completed college, are paid little more than those who only possess a high school degree. And yet we still hear the clarion call of college for all!
To add to the misery of many, the secondary educational footing offered to students is so poor that when they find a career in a particular industry, and if that industry dramatically shrinks, leaving many unemployed, they are ill-prepared for adapting to a new career.
To add insult to injury, approximately 75 percent of the U.S. school-age population graduate high school. The current 80 some odd percent graduation rate that is reported is misleading since it includes GED completers. There is a high dropout rate for those who go onto college after high school, and debt is the only thing to show for all their efforts since the time and money spent on secondary education is worthless in the economic arena without a sheepskin.
This demonstrates an education system that is not only broken but is brutally detrimental to a large percentage of the population since credentials are required for most lucrative opportunities, yet credentials are jealously guarded by academia. If you don’t fit in the academic scheme, you will be pushed to the margins of society. Entrepreneurs are the exception to this general rule since they find creative ways around the credentialing structural barriers.
How we ended up with such a prejudicial system has been the focus of my private studies for a couple of decades. I began with a paper on the history of education to explain our current state of affairs, and expanded into other relevant educational areas. My studies required they be private given the fact no educational institution would wish to see such information reported to the public since it is far too damning.
In particular, my education history paper touches on the significant changes that occurred in the late 19th and early 20th centuries when German Statism was imported to our shores. It was grounded in an almost religious belief in science and the possibility of creating a utopia on earth through combining the knowledge of science and the power of government to re-engineer society to this end. A Statist educational system was implemented across our country using centralized bureaucracies in each state. Over time, the federal government inserted its will by tying funding to demands on programs or curricula it deemed important.
Once I had an understanding of how our education system came about, I researched the various aspects of education and wrote numerous papers to cover these issues. Fundamentally, I found that the system is grounded in abstract, theoretical concepts (typical of a scientific worldview) with little to no attention given to applied studies, yet it is in an application that humans learn.
Abstraction can support application, but if abstraction is all that is offered, the ability to transfer what one has learned in the classroom to the real world is negligible at best. This has been researched and well documented by numerous cognitive psychologists as my papers cite. It has been found that students learn more by doing than by watching or merely listening.
Since abstract concepts taught in school are hard to transfer to the real world without an application being part of a program, assessment testing—such as IQ tests and their ACT and SAT proxies—are offered as the means to measure cognitive ability. Again, such testing methods are grounded in “science,” but the problem here is that the human mind is very narrow and limited in scope.
To think that scientists can measure the full capacity and ability of a human mind is not only ridiculous but also extremely dangerous since it labels people according to “scientific findings” and thereafter determines people’s fate. Millions and millions of Americans have been harmed by the arrogance of such scientists.
My paper on assessment testing dispels the belief that “intelligence tests” demonstrate a person’s mental worth or a person’s ability to reason. It also points out how IQ tests were designed to select for certain abilities, primarily memory and recall, but not for all other cognitive abilities.
Unfortunately, to acquire a lucrative credential, one must possess a high IQ to pass through the halls of academia since academia has erected legal networks and barriers to prevent individuals from circumventing their system. If IQ is not sufficient for their purposes, then lucrative credentials are out of reach. The tragedy is this: Since lucrative occupations are linked with postsecondary education, it is assumed that IQ reflects intelligence and therefore the ability to be successful. This is true only so far as IQ, credentials, and lucrative occupations are intricately tied together by an artificial legal framework. Break this framework and we shall see this institutional structure crumble. Real abilities will then replace the artificial structure.
How did we become so addicted to IQ measurements to determine a person’s mental worth?
In the early 20th century, IQ was used to separate worker bees from “leaders” of society. In addition, IQ was used for eugenics purposes to select those who should be sterilized if their IQs were below a certain level (this is where the terms imbecile and moron originate.)
Education programs were therefore designed for this selective process of distinguishing the “intelligent” minority in contrast to the “ignorant masses.” This belief system was originally rooted in the belief of genetic superiority of certain races but eventually evolved into a belief of the intellectual superiority of certain individuals in order to create a new aristocratic class controlled by academia. The idea that all men are self-determined was abandoned around the turn of the last century when IQ testing and government bureaucracies came to dominate in order to enforce this new world order.
Perhaps the best paper to start with for those interested in learning more about my ideas is “The Applied Education Concept.” It resurrects the old term education in the useful arts and sciences in contrast to the pure arts and sciences, the followers of which dominate academia and are proud of their separation from utilitarian ends. This paper also discusses how educational programs are currently designed to be self-perpetuating. In other words, individual subjects are taught as though individual students will pursue a career in that subject—obviously nonsensical yet it is the reality of the situation.
In this paper, I also include ideas of what an education program might look like. Keep in mind this is strictly conceptual and is offered as a program to consider establishing, but is by no means to be considered the ultimate secondary school program. It’s strictly a starting point.
Such a program would not necessarily incorporate the current structure of using semesters to set up classes. The length of a class would be determined by the knowledge that would prove useful to the average person based on its relative worth in the larger scheme of things. This is important since all knowledge is wonderful but only certain things are worthy of study for every citizen given our limited time and resources. After all, we cannot learn everything, therefore the relative value of competing knowledge must be discerned.
Another paper I offer explains the purpose of education. Some chapters in this paper are:
A valued place; Barriers to full participation in the community; Preparation for hardships; etc.
Another paper addresses the transfer of learning, the ability to transfer what one has learned in one setting—such as in a classroom, for example—to another setting.
Generally, it is said there are three levels of transfer:
Close transfer refers to information that is very easily taken from one context to another. For example: if 2 +2 = 4 then it is easy to deduce that 3 + 3 = 6.
Medium transfer requires greater reasoning abilities to transfer from one context to a more distant context. For example, knowing the behavior of a prey species makes for a better hunter.
Far transfer requires the greatest reasoning abilities to transfer from one arena of activity to another. This is seen frequently in technology transfer and scientific discoveries. Far transfer typically requires a great deal of knowledge combined with a great deal of experience. Far transfer abilities are the source of wisdom.
Unfortunately, our school systems are focused predominately on close transfer where memory and recall methods are used to create intricate and meaningless labyrinths—using tricky questions, the withholding of information, and illusions to confuse students—to see who can make their way through the labyrinth rather than teach students how to use the information to reason through real-world problems.
Educators believe these labyrinths “exercise” the mind to develop logic for the real world when required. However, cognitive psychologists have disproven this hypothesis but our educational systems have ignored these findings.
Some of the other papers I offer to help communities formulate an education system to fit their needs are: What is the Purpose of an Education System, Credentialism’s Role in Society, Education Counseling, How Much Education is Really Necessary, Quality of Education and The Economics of it All.
All papers can be found at http://appliededucationfoundation.org. While the Foundation is not operational at this time, the website was set up to offer the means for anyone to access these papers.
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