Unintended Consequences to Mandatory Education

The Motive

Last time I talked about discipline in the studio. It helps when there are options for the teacher when handling difficult students. When children are mandated by law to attend school until the age of 16, there are consequences. Consider the progression of events.

  1. Motives were just. For the most part, these laws were passed to protect the future of the child. Not all parents valued education enough to send their child to school. These laws made sure every child had the same opportunities for a successful life as children of parents who did value education.
  2. Schools that were once filled with students who’s parents valued education were now populated with some children of parents who cared less or resented the need for education.
  3. Teachers who once had the support from appreciative parents now must also try to teach children without the support of some parents.
  4. Children who know that parents at home resent teachers telling their little “Johnny” what they can and cannot do push the barriers that define a controlled classroom.
  5. All discipline breaks down, thus creating an environment of non-learning for both the troublemakers and those students who want to learn.
  6. Teachers are frustrated and spend more time on implementing what little disciplinary actions they have left in their arsenal than on the lesson material and teaching the willing students.
  7. More students fail to learn as they should and could and the drop out rate is increased as once willing students fall behind and become discouraged.

I admit this is VERY simplistic. It does not even take into account the breakdown of parental support and training once offered by multi-generational households and neighborhoods. Not discussed is the trivialization of meaningful curriculum and life skills and the glorification of multiculturalism and self-esteem. Finally, what is staring us in the eyes today is the union’s growing domination over communities using the fear of strikes and unmet “educational” demands and the indoctrination of the teachers that the community undervalues them and their work was worth more than the current contract. The present mandatory education requires a COMPLETE overhaul.

The Fix

So, what was once an attempt to pass laws so all children could learn how to succeed in the world has become the root cause for an increase of failure within the educational system. Money is not the answer. An over-simplification of a corrective action might be:

  1. Define and prioritize the goals of the school classroom. Pay for the most important things first, then communities won’t feel guilty for not affording everything.
  2. Determine needed skills from a teacher to teach the material, maintain an atmosphere that encourages learning and be mature enough to be realistic in the expectations from students, parents, colleagues and administrator/community.
  3. Decide appropriate actions the student must do to achieve social/intellectual maturity for his age and match the curriculum to each level of growth.
  4. Demonstrate a respect for teachers and students by establishing boundaries of conduct from each of them towards the other and, likewise, within the educational community at large.
  5. Demand accountability from the teachers and school personnel for the expenditure of time and resources of the community’s largess.

We use these steps often in solving problems we face in our daily life. For example:

  1. The car brakes down. We know we need a working vehicle so –
  2. We determine we need a mechanic with the right skills.
  3. We set criteria that helps us chose the right mechanic.
  4. We show we respect each other when the mechanic is honest about the need and the car owner pays him for an honest day’s work.
  5. When the fix doesn’t work, we expect a warranty – the mechanic makes good on his word and work.

Accountability and Enticement

If this applies to us in our everyday life, shouldn’t we demand the same from those who borrow the brains of our children so they can program them seven hours a day? These steps mean the whole educational system needs to be reevaluated, but isn’t it worth it? If the community wants educated citizens to reside there, shouldn’t they demand accountability? Money really hasn’t come into the equation except as a show of respect in #4 of each discussion above. If you think money is needed for a good education, ask those who walked to the one room school houses found in this country’s younger states and passed proficiency tests a majority of today’s teachers would fail. Mandates require accountability on the part of all parties and the enticement from teachers for students to learn.

We are blessed not to have students mandated to take piano lessons – it leaves more option for us. So, the piano studio is an option. Maybe not for the student, but at least the parent. Are you ready to be accountable to them? Can you entice the unwilling student?

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