Education: “The saddest thing in life is wasted talent” (from A Bronx Tale)

**The Edvocate is pleased to publish guest posts as way to fuel important conversations surrounding a P-20 education in America. The opinions contained within guest posts are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of The Edvocate or Dr. Matthew Lynch.**

Public schools are engaged in underachieving and under-educating. Low goals are set but rarely reached.

Commentary from Bruce Deitrick Price

When you talk about wasted talent, people immediately think of an individual wasting his or her talent. It’s always a sad story but an individual story. A person makes bad decisions. Little by little that person is on a road where he will not be able to develop his talents to the fullest.

But what about a society where children have their talents wasted for them? Not by a lobotomy or by drugs. No, their talents are squandered by systematic planning and careful effort. The technical name for this is social engineering. A more popular name is deliberate dumbing down. Savor that melancholy phrase. And now let us ask, but how could it happen? Here’s the general blueprint:

If the kids can run a 100-yard dash, you make them walk. If they can dance all day, you make them sit in a chair. If they can learn a new language every year, you don’t teach new languages. If they can learn to read and enjoy books, you don’t teach them to read or you give them books you know they will hate. If they like math, you find ways that are difficult and cumbersome, until finally they can no longer learn to do math. In short, you use methods that don’t work. That’s how you give every child a handicap, a limp, a disability, something that will keep them from reaching their potential.

Public schools in America have been skilled at this for decades. That’s why the 1983 Nation at Risk report  could conclude that our public schools are so bad they must have been designed by a hostile foreign power. Very hostile.

When you look at the resulting mediocrity, and the counterproductive approaches used to achieve this decline, you start thinking about what might have been. You realize you are looking at a landscape full of waste and sadness. You think of Bruegel’s panoramic vistas of dying and destruction. In some of those famous pictures, everyone is  visibly wasting away, if not already carved up. Or you think of broken and blasted terrain like the battlefields of World War I, where all the soldiers seem to be walking wounded. Everywhere there is a sense of defeat.

Don’t you imagine exactly such images when you read that “Nearly Half Of Detroit’s Adults Are Functionally Illiterate”?

But now we’ve stepping on the gas. The Common Core has ratcheted the whole process to a new level. Many children start their school years unhappy and never recover. They come home each day depressed or anxious. They mutilate themselves. They fall sleep crying at night. They have nightmares. According to one of the century’s most memorable headlines, “Little kids cry and pee their pants.” (See short video for why this is happening.)

Louis CK famously summed up the insanity: “My kids used to love math. Now it makes them cry.”

(Quick memo to our obtuse Education Establishment: school should be fun; you’ll get better results that way.)

Robin Eubanks maintains a website called Invisible Serf’s Collar where she  argues that slavery is the insistent motif  throughout public education.  Children have metal collars around their necks. Perhaps you can’t see them. But you will notice that the children are becoming intellectual cripples. One blog post, several months back, was titled “Censorship Before the Fact: Prescribing What the Child Does and Believes Invisibly.”

Well, isn’t that the whole essence of slavery, that humans are not allowed to have a life of their own or thoughts of their own?

Look what we are losing. Americans once prided themselves on their freedom to choose, to develop in different directions. The schools were supposed to enable that individuality. But John Dewey, starting 100 years ago, crusaded against individuality. He wanted all the little children to be similar, even interchangeable.  The school’s real job is to hammer down the differences, and extinguish the individual sparks.

Naturally there is a great deal of waste. That’s Dewey’s goal, whether he wants to admit it or not. Imagine millions of children all of whom will be 25% or 50% less than they could be. Try to add up all that loss, in the child’s life and society’s life.

That’s not to say there is suffering. If a person is brought up in the twilight, they do not miss bright days. They have never seen them. No, the children are just slowly squeezed and shaped to fit a smaller mold.

Behold the mediocrity and unnecessary failure, all created by policies instituted by our Education Establishment. You have to be impressed by how  implacable they are. People all over America are lamenting the crazy homework that children bring home. The kids are crying  and the mothers are upset. Does the Education Establishment apologize? Does Bill Gates say he’s sorry for causing all this pain? Does Jeb Bush back away from Common Core? No, they just make excuses and keep on grinding down the public.

The saddest thing in life is wasted talent. Our K-12 schools are full of it.

Only one policy can save us. We must try to raise every child as high as each child can be raised. Forget Dewey. Don’t be fooled by so-called “social justice”  as that is often merely code for leveling.

We can do so much better. Kids have to master the 3 R’s and then they can learn geography, history, science, the arts, and whatever else you want.  This is precisely what everyone has been doing around the planet for thousands of years. It’s not rocket science. You want rocket science? That would be the weird, perverse voodoo that our Education Establishment uses to slow everything down.

As noted, we can easily do much better. The question really is, how long will Americans put up with the current nonsense?


Bruce Deitrick Price explains educational theories and methods on his site For tips on initiating reform, see his: The Bill of Rights for Students 2015.

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