Educational Stagnation in America

The public education system is one of indoctrination in our country, in every country no doubt. It serves as a way for the already “established” society to perpetuate itself by teaching its values, ideals, lessons, skills, and the training necessary to keep the status quo in check. In addition to this indoctrination the public education system seeks to destroy any semblance of creativity in the minds of today’s youth, reducing or even eliminating the chances that any sort of upheaval in the structure of society should occur. Higher education is no different, as the degree based programs that it offers are highly structured and offer little room for creativity in a chosen field.

            Thinking about the education system as a tool for indoctrination is a little easier when you look at the word “indoctrination” differently. “Indoctrination” carries such a negative connotation that it is hard to use it in everyday speech without being scorned or told off about being too radical. Indoctrination is simply the process by which individuals mold other individuals to their way of thinking, and it happens in almost every facet of society. Think about it; you indoctrinate your children as they grow up to your value sets; you are indoctrinated to the value sets of whatever religion you prescribe to. The public education system is no different.

            In school children are taught patriotism, they are taught individual competitiveness, they are taught through rote and through pre-prescribed “teaching lessons” that contain no incentive for the students to be creative, or the teacher to encourage creativity. When children step into the classroom for the first time the first thing they are taught, often, is the pledge of allegiance and they say it every morning. This is a perfect example of the indoctrination that occurs in our schools as students are taught, however subtly, that the American way is the only way, at least the only true way. 

            Creativity and imagination are quashed by the educational system. A perfect analogy for the way that school system works to destroy creativity is the “color inside the lines” example. Children are taught that they have to color inside the lines or it is not right, in other words, they have to stick to the status quo and color the picture like everybody else. The worst of the creativity destroying school institutions is the standardized test.

            Teaching to the test has become the norm in today’s schools. No longer are students taught for the purpose of learning and for the pure joy of acquiring new knowledge. No, students are taught so that they can take a test (the same test that everybody else is taking) and then immediately forget the information in favor of a new set of material that will be on the next test. Nothing matters but the grade.

            Higher education is no different from the public schooling system. All the higher education system is, is a way for students to specialize further, becoming more and more specialized in a certain field, and becoming inept in other fields. Even the process of getting to this “specialized” point is the same as the public education system. Degree programs are set in stone and require students to take the same classes that everybody else who wants that degree is taking, and in these classes there are tests that students study for, for which the information contained therein will only be retained long enough to take said tests.

One need only look back to before public education was implemented to see the potential that the yearning for knowledge and the ability to be creative can have on an individual. Abraham Lincoln never attended a day of school in his life, and yet he was able to teach himself to be a lawyer through his own initiative and would eventually become one of the most influential and important presidents we’ve ever known. Indeed looking even farther back, the founding fathers were not formally educated, and look at what they did.

The education system in this country, indeed in most countries, is flawed. Creative, intellectual, idealistic, and many other forms of stagnation are the only outcomes of the present system. So much does our system of education stagnate, that there can never be any hope for the changing of all of the rest of society’s ills, because the education system itself seeks to perpetuate those ills. Change the educational system in my opinion, and you change all of society.