Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Democracy in America

          Democracy is a slow process.  It is a balancing act.  In our country it is not majority rule and that is a good thing.  Our Constitution is purposely set up to prevent huge swings in popular opinion to rule the country.  At our core belief is our Bill of Rights and maybe our strongest right is the right to be left alone.
We didn't get to where we are very fast.  Less than one hundred years ago we had child labor and children as young as eight years old were tied to machine, chained to their task.  Only fifty years ago Black Americans had to sit at the back of the bus!  Women couldn't vote until 1917 and equal pay for equal work is still an issue and not even thought of until the 1960's.  There were no environmental laws and our rivers became our sewer systems, the air we breathe our smokestacks.  It wasn't until after World War II that we developed a public education system that went through High School and the GI Bill encouraging College and a University Education for more people.
      We vote for these things and with each improvement we give a little more.  Our taxes, our contribution to make our society a little better.  This brings me to My Question of the Day!
      What is the role of Public Education?  Teachers set goals for every day, goals for the week.  At the end of the year they want the students to have learned something!  What should it be?  Educational goals change on a whim, are often locally determined and dependent upon public persuasion. 
     Personally I do not think we should teach for a job.  I think that is the role of Community Colleges and Industry.  Let them train their own.  What is bothering me today is we do not know what is going on in the world.  It is appalling to me that the protests in Egypt were not anticipated.  Don't our Diplomats ever have coffee with "regular people"?  Americans don't know what is going on because we are not taught anything anymore.  There is a big drive now to teach more science and math for industry and that "competitive edge"
and we no longer teach World History or Geography.  Most Americans couldn't find Egypt on the map!
We no longer teach the why of Democracy.  Most Americans have never read the words of Jefferson or Adams or earlier precursors to our Democratic Beliefs.  Sarah Palin could not name ONE Chief Justice of the Supreme Court!!!
     We don't teach Music or Art or Theater or Debate.  Even Physical Education is being dropped from the curriculum and we are getting fat, lazy and bored.  Shakespeare is no longer read and almost all literature.
It has become acceptable to base our opinions on emotion.  When we no longer read the newspaper I guess this is the logical conclusion.  When we teach for Industry, our Diplomats don't have time for coffee with regular people.  They are hunting for oil.

This is What I do.


AutumnLeaves said...

Guilty of basing my own opinions on emotions. I think with me it is a gut instinct, somehow something I inherently just know. If that makes sense. I am with you on the education issues, however. Unfortunately teachers are now expected to take on the roles that used to be played by parents too. I think I had an awesome education and I wish my own kids and my grandkids could have exactly the same one I did. I was taught to research, to use the library, to know about art and music, history and geography. There is so much knowledge out there in the world that it is impossible to be taught it all in school these days. Still and yet, by moving away from foundational teaching, kids are ill-equipped to figure things out on their own, to dig and delve and to wonder why. Instant gratification has become the way of the world. Teachers are teaching to tests now, almost giving away the answers so "no child is left behind." Much as I respect our President who brought that one around, I do think that might have been either a misstep or misinterpreted by our local education systems. I could go on and on and on...

Maundering mutterer said...

The right to be left alone is the one I like best!

I would have said: 'reading, writing and sums', but oh my! No History? No Geography? I suppose one should add 'the world around one' to the basic list.

As for Shakespeare, school spoiled it for me, I'm only just beginning to enjoy it properly now!

Kay said...

I think the best thing I learned in school and from my parents was the ability to take responsibility for myself and my actions. What teacher does that these days? I can count one teacher maybe two that my sons had who were loving, smart and teaching for the joy of it. The rest were worn out, mean spirited and hating their lives. It was a paycheck and they couldn't be bothered to even learn the students names. When I was in public schools..late 50's - 1971..I could count one teacher who did not belong in the class. She was abusive and was fired. I am still in contact with my wonderful 5th grade teacher, Mr. Gordon.( note I still call him Mr. even though he insists I call him Bob). He took a group to Pittsburgh every year where we rode the funicular and went to museums. You got to go because you earned the right to go. No one complained who didn't get invited..because they knew they had not earned the right! He encouraged my art. He took an interest in our lives and got to know our parents and siblings..since all of us had the same teachers over the years of 5 kids in my family going through the system. He taught the love of reading and art. He hugged us each the day President Kennedy was killed and consoled us. He was a great example of the wonderful teachers I was so blessed to have. I got an education in everything from the arts to typing, math to Spanish, geography to music. So sad my sons did not receive the same education. I was naive. I just assumed they were getting what I got and I couldn't understand their reluctance after 2nd grade to go to school. How sad they never felt the joy I had in going to school, the anticipation of learning. To their credit they became self taught, and home taught and have continued their educations. I have to comment..Sarah Palin seems to me to be the ultimate product of a system that values cheerleaders and pretty over brains and knowledge. How sad that she thinks she can get by on looks and hate speech instead of knowledge..surely the Republicans have women in their party who are well educated eloquent and learned. Where are they? Not valued because they are not pretty and vapid? Palin should have had my 7th grade English teacher...She would have learned to write and speak properly. She would have learned to not be satisfied with mediocrity. Seriously if she becomes President..I am looking at other countries to live..I love the United States of America I am very patriotic..but the idea that the masses would prefer her over better candidates would be so disappointing that I can't imagine it. There..that is my political rant for the day!!!!

rama said...

It is true Jerry. America has been a slow learner. More than 100 year sago we had Jhansi Ki Rani fighting the British single handedly. She has gone down in Indian history as a legendary figure, the firebrand who began the Indian Revolution against British Colonialism and for Indian independence. We have had many women fighting the British, and had may women Ministers,a woman Prime Minister, and now a woman President too, but still we have on the other hand many atrocities committed against women too. It is a shame. The corruption that is going on is another shame.
Don't you find it rather strange that we are very forward in certain aspects in our country, where as you are still struggling with all the world looking up to you?
We are well educated than an average American, still we are backward in so many things.
What is wrong with us you as Americans and we as Indians?
I think I have totally gone off track.
Even I want to know aren't our leaders supposed to know anything that is going around them,isn't their duty to serve their country in a responsible manner?
I wouldn't be surprised if soon we have a massive people's revolution all over the world.