Are We Unraveling? Sources of the Rising Rage.

Excellent short summary of the history of social unrest in America of the last 70 years & the origins of rising rage. Norman Rockwell_ The Problem We All Live With « AbagondOne critical piece is missing from the history and the analysis: a dysfunctional public school system. The American educational system, designed 150 years ago to prepare workers for the industrial age, is still preparing them for the industrial age.

The result is that fewer and fewer Americans are being readied for a rapidly changing world. Those that are being left in the dust (people in all regions of the country–inner cities, rustbelt towns, etc.) are experiencing the consequences. They are understandably angry that the world they were expecting and being prepared for does not exist. That it will not exist and cannot exist, that the clock cannot be turned back, that globalization and technological advances are inexorable, is understandably enraging.

The Rage in the Unraveling

Children are still taught to follow directions, to work on their own, worship right answers and fear being wrong. They are taught to fear mistakes and conflict and to focus on measuring up… and don’t ask questions; you might be thought stupid for not knowing stuff. These lessons are antithetical to learning and practicing the skillsets for success, the skills of collaborating, creating, and contributing. Practicing these 3C’s daily are the necessary and sufficient conditions for success. How much time did each child spend on the 3 C’s in the schools of the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and the new millennium?

The rage of not being valuable

Ross Douthat does a brilliant job of outlining the causes of rage in America today, but we have to acknowledge how enraging it would be if your teachers, parents and other educators prepared you for a world that obviously doesn’t exist.

Yes, it is ridiculous to talk about “taking America back” again. No one is going back. Most of the jobs that are gone aren’t coming back. Children who grow up in poverty are going to continue to have trouble finding careers outside of gangs. When you know by 4th grade how “smart” or “stupid” you are, and when that hasn’t changed by 7th grade, it is hard to come back from that.

Many of the disempowered were disempowered by a school system designed more to sort than to educate. Today, that system is the same system, despite decades of attempted reform, and it is a major source of ignorance and disempowerment, not to mention underemployment and the prison population. The culture of school systems, traditional and charter alike, are still not preparing our young people to be creative, collaborative, contributors to the economy and to society.

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14 Responses to Are We Unraveling? Sources of the Rising Rage.

  1. Christopher Duncan says:

    Rick, I just read your piece about the failure of schools to prepare the kids for today and the appropriate rage that engenders. Excellent piece. Right on! And well written. Someone like the New York Times needs to print it as an op-ed. Truly.

  2. Tracy says:

    I couldn’t agree more. Spot on and brilliantly written.

  3. Rick says:

    Thank you, both.

  4. Rumsey Young says:

    Rick,
    Thanks for continuing to send me your blog. Like a lot of things in life, I tend to shy away from stuff that I don’t like or understand (hunting, violent crime, my computer, the donald), but your face the music attitude is always refreshing, bold, provocative, and brave.
    You are one honest uncompromising dude.
    Thank you for what you do.
    Rums

  5. Rick says:

    Thank you, Rumsey.

  6. Again, well expressed and especially on point. Thank you.

  7. jon madian says:

    Rick,
    It seems to me, and to you, I believe, that you’ve found a good turn of phrase in this article, may be a turn of phrase that is so good it could become a slogan, (STOP EDUCATING OUR CHILDREN FOR A WORLD THAT DOESN’T EXIST).

    But the truth is much more disturbing. I’m not sure that public schools back in the day educated folks for assembly line work so much as they incorporated the model or paradigm of the factory. But rows of seats facing the front or head of the table or minister has a long patriarchal and authoritarian history. But keep in mind that even The Little School House on the Prairie had more than its share of dropouts.

    WHY? Because school was and is quite boring, as you well understand. So talented, gifted, energetic, and challenged kids will “choose” to dropout in huge numbers–whether they actually do or not. Others will just rebel.

    Back in the day, we didn’t have a potentially rich vision of pedagogy, like we do today. In the old days pedagogy was largely based on ignorance. Today, tragically, practice continues based on inertia and an inability to grasp that through education we could help youngsters reach for the stars in outer space and within their hearts, minds and imaginations…. But instead of a curriculum designed for self-actualization and growth mind-set we offer a curriculum aligned to standardized tests.

  8. Susie Lewis says:

    I teach in a private school. I would not lump all public schools together. Bringing back more trade schools is an option as only about 20% of the people in my state have a four year college education. As long as policy views living wages as not important, and business owners, and corporations will employ people at the lowest possible wages, just looking at education’s challenges is myopic .

  9. Joseph says:

    dude,

    You’re on a writing roll!!

    How many separate research articles do you have in process right now?

    I’ve never seen a capcha like the one I have to do to submit here, intuitive mathematics

  10. Douglas Hazelrigg says:

    As a substitute in an inner-city public school system, where I’m tempted to throw out the lesson plan an almost a daily basis, I concur with Mr. Madian that school has become a top-down crashing bore. I have occasionally gotten in trouble with the administration “downtown” for “stirring things up” in the classroom, but I remain unapologetic. I see discipline regimes that aren’t being internalized at all, rigid scheduling that purports to provide “structure” but which becomes suffocating, and — perhaps most disconcerting — teachers’ lounges brimming with resentment and even ridicule for their charges. There HAVE been some efforts to liberalize the approach here in my district, but not anywhere near enough to provide parents with the spectrum of options they feel might be right for their child. In sum — and maybe I am not qualified to make this summation — the entire K-12 structure needs to be torn down and rebuilt. This, of course, should be done, MUST be done, on a district-by-district basis, and not as the result of yet another centrally planned scheme.

  11. Rick says:

    Susie, Thank you for the correction. Indeed, some public schools DO educate, and I agree that vocational schools are important. In fact I was having a conversation with a colleague recently in which I said that I thing all schools should be vocational, and she agreed. We both meant that the purpose of school should be to help people find their calling, their vocation.–academics should be a subset of calling, not the whole thing.

  12. Rick says:

    Jon, yes: reach for the stars, self-actualization. This is not too much to ask or to do. Each educator has to exercise his or her leadership to make this what educators are held accountable for: finding their spark, their genius.

  13. George Girton says:

    Children are taught not to ask questions? I would question that assertion. To me it seems dubious.

    Not one of the jobs I’ve held in my adult life even existed when I was in college, let alone middle school. Perhaps more to the point, they don’t even exist today. It’s asking a lot for the educational system to predict the future, but they should could be teaching a lot more statistics. I think that would help.

    p.s. by the way, 6+9 = 15 but the captcha said “Please submit a valid answer,” and then put up a -1 ???

  14. Rick says:

    George, The problem lies in teachers thinking that the content (statistics, history, literature, whatever) is the important thing. Since you and I both agree that we can’t know what content will be important for the students 20 years from now, the solution is to understand that the content is the vehicle for developing a creative, empowered brain that is committed to continue to grow and learn and make a difference as the world changes.

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