Ken Robinson’s video on the state of the US education system was inspiring and terrifying. He takes a cold, hard look at a system where children are diagnosed with mental diseases, when they are actually only suffering from “childhood”. The prognosis for these children is not good. They are the raw material being inserted into a factory system, meant to produce consistent, subdued workers. It is impossible to know the exact motives of the people who designed this system, since it has been a gradual progression over forty years. But if we try to glean the end product from what they’re doing to the raw material, it seems like they are looking for a group of young men and women who can sit at a desk for 8 hours a day, disconnected from their peers or the world around them and not go crazy.
Thinking back to my experience in grade school I realize how poorly I turned out relative to these standards. I certainly went crazy. I was labeled a class clown, a bad student and a troublemaker. The only label I wasn’t given, because it had not become so fashionable, was ADHD. I have no doubt that if I had been 5 or 10 years younger, I would have been heavily medicated because of my behavior.
The greatest irony of this horrible joke, is that I love to learn. I have been a reader and explorer my entire life. There are actually few subjects which don’t interest me, at least a little. I went to college, traveled the world with the Navy, and then came back because I missed the constant ability to learn new ideas that college provides. Luckily, the US grade school system didn’t totally ruin my relationship to education, but I think the students that are being churned out today will have a much tougher time protecting their academic curiosity. It is time for a massive break out of the factory school!