We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
I have always felt that the purpose of secondary education is to make it possible, within their potential, for everyone to have the chance to be an informed, honorable citizen with the basic values and morals of our country and our traditions, and to be made capable of functioning in a literate world.
And that the practical purpose of a college education was for those of a scholarly bent to be able to read the Sunday NYT from cover to cover and understand every detail and every reference - from the Book Review to the Arts to Business, etc. Plus the Tuesday Science Times. (Just an example - not an endorsement of the NYT's political agenda.) But I never thought that it was practical at all, or job-training - I thought it was mind-training and life-enriching. You can't really "get" the world until you've studied Geology and Locke and Bernini and Adam Smith and the glory of the calculus and Biochemistry and Statistics and Plato, and learned Shakespeare. Well, you might think you "get it," but you don't know ----. "The less you know, the smarter you think you are," as my pal Bird Dog likes to say.
Fact is, you can do 99.9% of the necessary work in America without a college education - look at Bill Gates, Bob Dylan, Abe Lincoln, George Washington, Thomas Edison, many Brown University graduates, and tens of millions of honest, hard working folks, etc etc etc.
But I have to accept that I may be old-fashioned and that times have changed. It appears that, for many, a college degree is now a job "credential," and we all know that there are many colleges out there which are very happy with below-average high-school-level work, as long as they can fill the seats and bring in the $. This is a pathetic, decadent development but it reflects the deterioration of standards and expectations in our society.
I've spent a fortune providing education to my kids, as my Dad did for me, and as his Dad did for him. Maybe I am a bit of a snob, but I always felt that public education, in our time, was the K-Mart version of the thing. But I've been wrong before, once or twice...at most.
Speaking of Locke, let's hear him on education:
"Locke continues: “Having laid the foundations of virtue in a true notion of a God, such as the creed wisely teaches, as far as his age is capable, and by accustoming him to pray to Him, the next thing to be taken care of is to keep him exactly to speaking the truth, and by all the ways imaginable inclining him to be good-natured.” "
Couldn't agree more. There seems to be a tendency to try and make all education vocational. Here (in Australia) it seems to be either vocational, or based on meaningless postmodernism.
At least as a science teacher I don’t have to worry about either. Science produces technology (so it is justified vocationally) and it teaches thinking and the great history of Western culture and achievement (so it conforms to a liberal tradition of education).
As to the deterioration of standards. It's partly due to academics' (and teachers') fear of complaints against them for failing students. Why do people complain more? Because it has to be someone else's fault now doesn't it…