Friday, May 09, 2008

The Educational Romantics strike again

The inimitable Rod Dreher somehow got a sneak peak at a June Atlantic Monthly article that brings down another blow on the educational romanticism that infects our culture. The article, apparently written by a professor at a small college where kids who don't really belong in college go, argues that college isn't for everyone.

But try saying this in a room of "education professionals" (as I have), and you get a look that is somewhat akin to that on the face of Dracula when confronted with a cross.

Why do people believe this? It goes back, once again, to the false notion that "all children can learn at high levels"--and the idea that once our elementary and secondary public schools have failed to educate them over 12 years, we should send them on to college anyway. As the article reportedly points out, these kids would be far better served at a technical school where they could learn a trade. In fact, secondary schools need to be doing this too, but their educational romanticism prevents them from doing it.

Somehow we've gotten the idea that blue collar work is demeaning. Well, not only is it not demeaning, but in many cases is more lucrative than white collar work. I realize this every time I have to call a plumber--or an electrician. As a state senator friend of mine put it recently, "Have you tried to hire someone to drywall lately? But they don't tell this to high school kids who really don't want to go to college and who could be benefiting from trade courses and apprenticeships.

I don't know what the studies say, but you don't need a study to know things that are staring you in the face. A friend of mine is heavily involved in the Association of Builders and Contractors in our state. He says their national organization has a complete trade curriculum that they will come into a school and implement--for free. There are a few public schools who take advantage of it, he says, but most are not interested.

This attitude has filtered down to kids themselves. There is now only one locksmith in our tri-county area after the recent death of the other one. He told me recently that he has too much work to handle but is more than well paid. He has tried, he said, to find a young person to hire so he could train him in the profession. "They could make a great living, be their own boss," he says. "They could take over my business when I retire in a few years, but I can't find anyone who is interested. They all think they've got to go to college to get a job."

I can't say it with certainty, but I bet this is going on all over the country.

The educational romantics think you are cheating kids if you don't buy in their ideology, when, in fact, it is the other way around.

1 comment:

Ryan Coatney said...

good word!