Excellent short summary of the history of social unrest in America of the last 70 years & the origins of rising rage. One 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.