People have told me on many occasions that I have talent for explanation. Some have even said that I should be a teacher. Every time I’ve heard this, I’ve rolled my eyes and sighed ruefully.
Education stinks. Barring tremendous improvements in psychiatry, psychopharmacology and pedagogy, education will continue to stink for many decades to come.
Personally, I don’t want to get involved in such a hopeless cause. My own admittedly irrational perfectionism keeps me from getting involved in anything other than tutoring. If there was a hell where I was forced to be a high school teacher of physics, that would bad hell. Knowing that most of the students in my class would never come to love physics like I love it, that most of them couldn’t care less, would be utter torment for me.
Mass education, the child of the Industrial Revolution, is a flawed but reasonable system by which we, with vague efficiency, produce larval workers. That’s all it’s really for. The basic fact is that a modern economy only has a small number of interesting jobs to pass out and it always has large number of boring jobs to pass out. Barring some massive change in the economy and society this is unlikely to change.
So education gets by with producing enough semi-literate workers flip our burgers, pick our apple crop, administer our paperwork and clean our office buildings. Most folks are unwilling to pay someone to play around doing science (And let’s be honest, doing science or art is play, that’s why all lot of folks are attracted to those endeavors.) because there rarely is a profit in abstract knowledge.
And so schools are fated. Fated to remain roughly as they are because they are good enough. It isn’t about making us smarter or giving us the power to make ourselves smarter, it’s about making us smart enough. Having said this as a responsible voter, I always vote in favor of school bonds and levies, but inwardly, I know the system is flawed and is unlikely to get better barring the radical changes mentioned above.