The Declarer (Floyd McWilliams' Blog)

Thursday, February 20, 2003

I happened on a website of opinion writing called The American Scene. The Scene is somewhat of a periodical; it has a blog, but also contains longer essays and a letters section.

A recent blog entry called Molly "I write in a Texas accent, therefore it must be true" Ivins' latest column "the worst ever". Ivins issued a garbled interpretation of recent French history, then opined that colonialism was worse than fascism or communism.

There was also an interesting essay from two years ago on "Abolishing High School". Ross Douthat writes:

But high school socializes adolescents by forcing them to spend all their time, not with adults who offer examples of maturity, but with other adolescents. The only adults in grades 9-12 are teachers, whose role as disciplinarians casts them as adversaries rather than as role models. Few high school students set out to emulate their instructors--instead, they set about emulating their peers.

The result, predictably, is the warped culture that holds sway in the halls of most American high schools. Adolescents are conformist, so the culture demands conformity. Adolescents are vicious, so the culture is cruel beyond belief. Adolescents are insecure and anti-intellectual, so the culture despises academic achievement. And, of course, adolescents (or their parents, more likely) adore athletics, and so the culture treats athletic stars and their paramours as its kings and queens.

When a student finally graduates out of this culture, he has undoubtedly gained a smattering of practical knowledge. But after four years in a shallow, conformist world, he is no closer to being an adult, really, than when he entered high school in the first place. Or if he has matured, than it has been in spite of his "socialization," not because of it.

I wholeheartedly agree. America's educational system was created by a nineteenth-century socialist who had many diagreeable goals (one of which was "Christianizing the Catholics"). It should be dumped in the dustbin of history.



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