America’s compulsory school system was never intended to actually educate its citizens. Government sponsored education has been implemented for thousands of years, though it was the efficiency and results from the Prussians in the 19th century that America adopted.
Prussia was the first to successfully implement this universal education of its citizens in 1819. The schools served five main purposes, to create:
1. Soldiers obedient to the army.
2. Obedient workers for mines, factories, and farms.
3. Well- subordinated civil servants.
4. Subservient clerks for industry.
5. Citizens who think alike on most issues.
The fifth purpose sounds woefully familiar in today’s times.
Historically, it was religious groups that provided education to the citizens of colonies as yes, America was a colony, with hopes of life long commitment ‘financially’ from the parishioners . Catholics, Protestants, Anglicans, Lutherans, and Presbyterians marketed their ‘highway to heaven’ sales pitch to new immigrants in America, forcing it on the indigenous people.
The focus was on the conversion of the children through schooling, bombarding them with theological theory mixed in academic lessons.
Prior to the Civil War, the American government flirted with the concept of free public schooling. Post Civil War brought stronger efforts to implement public schooling to prevent schism within the country and develop a subservient workforce for industrialists. American compulsory schooling was funded by those who were most desperately in need of a competitive labor force America’s leading industrialist. The Rockefeller, Carnegie, Morgan and Ford foundations were the greatest contributors to the development of the American education system grooming citizens to meet the needs of the elite, both as laborers and consumers.
It was not until the early 20th century when majority of America’s youth started attending school.
EDUCATION VS. INDOCTRINATION
Education is an individual journey that cannot be rushed or standardized. Learning takes time and motivation.
Time and motivation are the key ingredients to learning that are absent from America’s school system. Classrooms crowded with all types of children on different academic and capacity levels, is not the ideal situation for the attainment of knowledge. Is it logical to believe overstimulated children high on sugar, short in attention span and addicted to electronics will sit in classrooms for at least forty minutes to discuss lessons that serve no purpose for them in their current of future lives ?
America’s schooling, despite its faults, was ideal for the type of laborer the American economy needed during the Second Industrial Revolution. American schools taught children to be subservient to authority, classism, fear of critical thinking, promote futile competitiveness, and consumerism. Students-turned-employees carried these same practices into the corporate world, whether they were factory workers or upper management.
However, the current labor market is not to kind to those with only a high school, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate degree who are without experience and specific skills corporations can exploit. With the rise of robots and automation, human labor is no longer needed for jobs that can be done efficiently by programmed computers. Millions of American students are graduating from high school and college without the skills they need to generate an income. The possibility of being hired has declined tremendously. The government is doing a tremendous job trying to hide the employment epidemic plaguing America. When inflated employment numbers are posted online or in sophisticated jargon in the Wall Street Journal, these ‘jobs’ are not referring to full time employment, but part-time jobs — jobs that do not provide a livable wage to cover one’s daily expenses.
I do not want to be the bearer of bad news but something needs to be done. As greed increases and workforces decrease, where will the next generations work? There seems to be a propaganda campaign spreading, made more obvious and ubiquitous in social media, that everyone can be an entrepreneur, which is false. The masses are employees that need to be employed. The problem is lack of relevant and competitive skills in the current workforce combined with the lack of appropriate employment opportunities, leaving the majority of citizens without life sustaining work.
This shift is all around. We are living in a close to complete “self-serve” mode and yet, we are unable to see the transition. Self-check outs, E-Z Pass, online ordering, self-check in at airport, ordering everything online, and online banking. Yes, it’s convenient for some and annoying for others, but the result is less employment for citizens who desperately need an income to feed themselves and their family.
America needs to revolutionize its education system to at least provide its citizens with thinking or on their feet skills to match what current, competitive jobs require and increase chances to be hired at wages to meet decent standards of living. Our country can no longer afford to produce semi-literate citizens whose only hope of a livelihood hinges on greedy corporations recruiting for jobs that will soon no longer be relevant.
John Adams once said, “ There are two educations. One should teach us how to make a living and the other how to live.” This sounds like a good political propaganda sound bite that can be used in the upcoming election. The reality is America’s education system can not provide for either type of education.
It was never meant to and it looks like we don’t really care.
Written by: Livity