The American education system sucks and should be overhauled from K-PhD. And, no, I’m not a tea party-er.
Who really needs—for instance—the sheer amount of algebra that’s now taught? It may be fun (to some people) but it’s abstract, doesn’t stick in 95% of anyone’s head and has little practical application to living. If you want to be a mathematician or engineer, fine—take all the classes you want. But don’t bully the rest of us with it. I’m more than fine with math basics, thank you.
We’d all get more actual fun and practical human benefit from creative writing or painting classes. BTW, the arts should not be optional in any way; they give a “body” way more than the subject taught. But that’s for another rant.
This is about the need for real knowledge. People are starving for it.
I’m talking about how to cook (not follow a recipe), bake bread, make sauerkraut, iron a shirt, discuss psychology, sew on buttons, make red wine and get its stain off carpets, clean spinach, grow veggies, raise chickens, fix a flat, tune up your bike, navigate your computer…and most of all, recognize the natural world you live in.
How many of us know the flora and fauna in the parks and forests we live near? Most disparage “bees” when they actually mean yellow jackets. [see: not bees] Who enjoys edibles growing outside their urban door: clover, dandelions, violets? or understands the moon cycles, other cultures’ foods? Do you know how to identify mushrooms in the woods or palatable berries growing off the trees in your local park?
I had a wild mushroom biz for 11 years, foraging myself, but more often buying from pickers. Many of these people didn’t have bank accounts and some were virtually illiterate. But, what they knew about the natural world was bountiful!
Now there’s talk in CA about regulating wild mushroom pickers with certifications. I’ll tell you what: I’d buy from a toothless, bright-eyed, mountain wo/man making her/his living in the forest—season to season—before some kid with a degree.
The school systems are falling down but it’s not due to the teachers! Those lion-hearted souls deserve CEO pay. It’s the administrations, the politicians with their broadsides about “family” and “testing” all the while pushing teachers to force-feed abstractions into developing minds who gag trying to swallow it, when they’d so much prefer to learn to sing on pitch, write a mystery story, can blueberry jam, play drums, intelligently explore politics not sound bites, ultimately run a city, raise decent humans, commune with larches or connect with the universe.