“If education is beaten by training, civilization dies.” C. S. Lewis
The fight at the Mississippi state capitol this legislative session has been the battle between the establishment progressive education system and the “education reform” laws that have been touted as the free-market answer to failing school districts.
Behind the political war, there is a greater battle that involves the minds and very souls of the children our lawmakers claim to be fighting for.
This is a war between education and training.
“Workforce training”is the buzzword of the first quarter of 2013, but it is hardly a new concept. As you can see from the above quote, the great Christian writer C.S. Lewis was well aware of the pitfalls that vocational training poses for society.
Lewis knew that every man needs training for vocation, but he was also very keenly aware of the lessons of history and the dangers that come with schools gutted of liberal arts curriculum, replaced by vocational training.
We must do a bit of self-reflection in order to understand how we got to the point of accepting this as the role of schools for our future generations.
We’ll examine one word today in an attempt to drive home the point that we are unwittingly the authors of the potential demise of civilization.
The word is resource.
Many say “children are our most valuable resource.”
In one statement, we have managed to marginalize children, not of the past, nor the present but of future generations.
We have predetermined a technocracy, and we have committed the yet unborn to be workers to that end.
I have divided this into three segments in order to follow the digression accurately.
The first is “the child resource.” The second is “the child burden.” The final is “the child expendable.”
The Child Resource
It is my view that children should not be labeled or viewed as resources. It can be argued that it is correct for manufacturing companies to examine the “human resources” that are available in a municipality when viewing that town as a prospective location.
Another word for “human resource” in that sense is the labor force.
By labeling children as resources, however, we presume that the children of today are to be willing participants of a future labor force rather than exploring other fields of study like those of the liberal arts.
In other words, we have denied the child his or her freedom to chose his or her own outcomes and have predetermined some sort of vocation for the child.
We must too look more deeply into the nature of the “resource.”
The World Book Encyclopedia has long been viewed as a great resource for acquiring information.
In its entirety, and if it contains no factual errors, this resource is beneficial to the user in doing reports or simply acquiring knowledge.
If the book is found to be in error, it becomes a less beneficial resource. If it is found that every page contains at least one error, the book is virtually useless and would be discarded by the user.
Human beings may be fired for repeated errors, but they are not treated as useless books, bound for the trash.
Humans have the ability to change non-factual information in their brains to that of fact.
There are many examples of how resources fail to fit in with human nature like the old trusty Toyota being replaced by the new Ford.
The Toyota may still sit in the yard, but it does not feel jealousy that you are now driving a newer car of a different model.
It does not feel hurt or a feeling of abandonment. Neither does the encyclopedia.
That is the difference between resources and human beings.
When you site the encyclopedia as a source, you’ve done nothing to help the encyclopedia. You benefit the reader by showing support for a hypothesis or a statement of historical significance.
Replacing the timing chain on your car does not make the vehicle feel better about itself. It benefits the driver, the user of the resource.
If we come to a point, and I think we have, where we view children in this light then the next step is not too far from us.
The Child Burden
When the 1992 Toyota, which served a great purpose in its glory days, begins to slip out of gear, run hot or leak oil the vehicle quickly becomes viewed by the owner as a burden.
The few times the car is reliable enough to make it to work are far out-weighted by the roadside breakdowns that make you late for work.
At this point, the car’s usefulness quickly turns to burden.
This is key in understanding how the establishment views a culture of children who do not perform well on test scores.
It is also paramount to know that test score data is not about what the child knows, but rather about what the child can do.
It is no secret that the vast majority of our youth who are exiting high school, after passing the four tests that are administered from ninth-eleventh grades, cannot tell basic things of history, math, science or English, all of which are the nature of the tests.
The goal of testing is to pass the test. It is not to gain knowledge.
There are many students who are able to gain knowledge and pass the tests, but this is unimportant to those who monitor test data.
Let’s say Johnny and Kate take the state History test.
Johnny and Kate both make the same mark, but Johnny wants to tell the state department of education about a profound thought he had when studying the Great Depression, while Kate answered every question about the Great Depression correctly but has little insight about the subject.
Johnny’s epiphany is of no consequence to the person reading the test data. The only thing of consequence is the passing score.
When Johnny and Kate’s classmate Timmy fails the History exam, he is a statistic. When 28 other classmates also fail the test, there is a problem.
The few fleeting genius thoughts of Johnny, and Kate’s well-timed luck are viewed like the two times in a five-day week the Toyota made it to the office.
When entire pockets of potential resources show low aptitude to perform, these children become burdensome or in our terms, at-risk.
The Child Expendable
Once a child is labeled a resource, he or she either becomes useful or burdensome.
Test data is usually the measuring stick for determining how useful or how burdensome the child will become to society. Are they task-oriented? Are they workforce ready?
These are the questions being asked by those who find test data useful.
When children as resources become children as burdens, they will then take the final natural step to children as expendable.
The expendable child is the encyclopedia that contains too many errors, the Toyota that breaks down three times a week or the computer that is no longer fast enough to run a card game.
These resources all share the common traits of being burdensome and expendable, but they also share one very important trait and that is that they are the property of a user.
The owner decides the fate of the car.
Who decides the fate of the burdensome resource child?
It only took the German state a few years during the 1930s to become convinced of the concept of the burdensome human and naturally the expendable human.
If we continue down this road of thought, our attempts to fulfill our vocational needs of the future will have devastating consequences.