Teach The Children
By: Wayne Brown
The education system in this country has shifted significantly in the course of my life span. Back in the dark ages, when I was a child, schools taught the basics like reading, writing, and arithmetic. These genres were defined as the basics requirements in the process of preparing for the challenges of our adult lives. As children, we had no idea how important these tools would be so they were basically force fed to us in the interest of our future welfare. In hindsight, that was a good idea. I know it sure helped me.
Somewhere along the way a social consciousness developed in the American educational process. Like so many things in the ‘social arena’ it started small and seemingly harmless, possibly with those benign courses so often referred to in my day as ‘social studies’. But like a cancer, it grew and grew and grew until one day we could not ignore it anymore. It literally dominated the educational landscape of this country. Somewhere along the way, our educators decided it was more important to teach social perspective than it was to equip a child with the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic. That was a very stupid thing to do yet the good citizens of America followed right along with it like pigs going to slaughter.
Now we hear that America is falling behind other countries in the world in terms of producing great scientific minds, engineers, and the like. We are falling behind and the answer to this dilemma is that we need to put more money into the educational process. More of our hard earned tax dollars need to go into education. Why? Is it so we can continue to send our children to a classroom that spends more time teaching the appreciation of flags of other countries rather than reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. Is it because we need them to teach our child how to celebrate the holiday or festival season with no mention of Christmas and the birth of Jesus, son of God, when we live in a nation founded on the principles of Christianity? Is it because it is so important that the child have a strong understanding of black history month, gay pride week, the communist perspective, and the marvels of the writings of Hitler and Joseph Stalin? All of this when we cannot seem to find the time to teach reading, writing, and arithmetic anymore. All of this is how we got here and money does not fix that. We need wake up!
Somewhere down through the years in this country, someone did one hell of a job on us as a people and convinced us that we had it all wrong. We bought into it hook line and sinker. Maybe it was Johnson’s vision for the Great Society. Maybe it was Jimmy Carter’s ability to deliver the absolute worse news with a smile on his face. Maybe it was the media who did such a grand job of turning this country upside down in the Vietnam Era with their twisted approach to the news. When we as a people spit on the very soldiers who wore the uniforms of our country and shed their blood on a battlefield they did not create but still they fought. When we get there friends, we have hit bottom and we arrived there a long time ago.
Everything and everybody needs a centerline. It is the place you go back to when you run into the ditch. It is the reference; the orientation. It is the focus that keeps the vertigo out of our lives. We are not born with it. We are taught it. It is basic to our life. Many years ago when I taught others to navigate aircraft across large oceans and land safely on the other side, I witness many situations in which other instructors prided themselves in teaching all kinds of witchcraft to these young navigators who we were going to turn loose on the world with a multi-million dollar aircraft filled with human beings who were going to depend on the skills and abilities of those young people to safely get them from A to B. These were individuals who needed a rock solid rooting in the basics of navigating an airplane. They were not at the point in their development at which they needed fancy techniques and witchcraft. The basics are your center line. They are what you come back to when you are at a loss for anything else. You always know where they are. They will get you home. That’s what reading, writing, and arithmetic are, folks…your basics.
Our schools are now institution of higher learning. Maybe that is the problem. Maybe we need to get that word ‘higher’ out of the definition. Maybe we need to get back to a process where we describe our schools as institutions that teach the basics. When, we as a people, begin once more to thoroughly teach our children the basics, we will see to it that they have a strong platform to emerge and grow in any direction they choose. Social awareness can be taught in the home in the manner that parents so choose and to the level they so choose. At the school house, the focus is on the basics.
Recently, I came in contact with a young man who was a relative of sorts through marriage. He was known to be quite the intellectual possessing above average mental abilities and able to regurgitate a litany of information on a multitude of subjects of which he had little or no practical experience. He graduated from a well-known university in the heartland of this country with a degree in political science. I recently heard him expound his observations on the Obama universal healthcare package which was recently legislated upon us. He was quick to point out that he was against it. For a second, I was almost proud of him. Then he added that the reason that he was against it was because it did not go far enough in its effort to allow the government to run healthcare in this country. When someone else pointed out the ‘socialism’ implications of his desires, his only reply was ‘if you think that is socialist, you should see Europe’. I think he made my point by trying to make his. Even though this kid had potential, by the time his college professors were through with him, he was devoid of any original thought in the ways of America.
We ran this gambit to make the point. We no longer teach the basics in our educational process in America and we no longer teach democracy either. The principles of democracy do not grow on trees and they are not bred into our DNA. It must be taught. It must be discussed out loud and debated if necessary to be thoroughly understood. It is no different than biology, chemistry, or economics. It must be taught. When we teach it, we also must teach the value associated with it; the price in blood and suffering that has been paid for it; the price that some Americans, Thank God, are still willing to pay if it is threatened. We must teach our children and we must teach them well.