I think there are many problems with education that either not acknowledged or well understood by most educators. Parents may try and limit what their childern learn in school; some low-wage, uneducated people are suspicious of learning and don't value education, except perhaps for the possibility of its leading to a good job somewhere down the road. Conservative parents may not want their children exposed to unfamiliar ideas and maybe even contradict some of what their kids are being taught in schools. Politicians have their own agendas which may also interfere with what teachers are supposed to be doing.
I have a book, edited by Russ Kick, called You Are Being Lied To. The book is a anthology, a reader of different authors and topics. One chapter is on education, and the author refers to Alvin Toffler, who he calls a "social critic" but who I was under the impression is a futurist. Anyway, the author writes that Toffler said that the schools are set up as assembly lines to mold children into becoming compliant industrial workers. Today, we have more of a service-based economy, as manufacturing has been in decline. The schools, the author of this chapter says, have experts -- teachers -- who decide what is important, and when. The school uses regimentation to teach students to do as they are told instead of learning to think for themselves; the emphasis is on learning to follow rules. This system, it is said, does not promote creativity in students, a quality that is supposedly needed more today than in the past, when work often was or resembled an assembly line. Intellectual curiosity is stifled in the process.
I am not sure that this argument is completely valid. From my vantage point, I see people who often are too undisciplined, choatic, loud, insensitive to the feellings of otehrs, and concentrated on fufilling one's own needs to the exclusion of anyone else's. People often seem to be too creative with the facts, making something up that fits with their view of the world, rather than questioning their own views. I find that there is so much impatience with and even intolerance of others in society. Patience is a necessary quality, a precursor to study, scholarship, and knowledge acquisition. Everyone has to be first in social situations, while entering a store, while driving, while engaging in a conversation. I find that people often are lacking in reasonableness and in common sense and in figuring something out for themselves instead of immediately having to ask someone else for an answer or explanation.
Teachers often emphasize the role of parents in their child's education. That is an important and influential role. But that does not excuse the failure of education in too many instances to develop characteristics which are needed for learning, the ability to try and understand difficult or confusing material, the need to consult more than one source of information. Upper middle class parents may be so wrapped up with their careers and with social obligations that they may not have much time for their children. Lower class parents may not know how to reasonably control their children's behavior or to teach them values and ethics.
Creatiivity for the sake of creativity does not seem like it would necessarily serve a constructive purpose. Creativity at the service of creating beauty or solving a problem makes sense. Perhaps what is actually missing is the development of so-called critical thinking skills.
A psychology professor once made the claim that artistic types were not that good with sticking to the facts, with being objective. That may have been an exaggeration, but I can see where it might be somewhat true.
I know of an individual who claims to be a Democrat and who doesn't like Republicans, particularly George W. Bush. Yet, the individual seems more on the side of management rather than of labor, sometimes, a defender of the status quo, of authority figures. The individual does not have much post-secondary formal education and yet at times seems to have little repect for people who have a greater level of education, and is sometimes arrogant toward co-workers. I wonder if a lack of education breeds insecurity which then results in compensation through an attitude of superiority, or if this over-abundance of self-confidence resulted in the person not continuing on with post-secondary education and possibly earning some kind of academic degree.
I sort of resented the idea of having to pay money in the form of rather expense college tuition just so a person would have some credential to help in qualifying for a (future) job. Why should people have to pay a large sum of money just to become employed, when schools offer no guaranty of employment?
I was in downtown Chicago (otherwise known as "the Loop") the other day. There are always a substantial number of homeless people on certain streets, asking for a financial donation. Some rattle a cup, some have a sign, a few approach you and verbally ask for help. William Julius Wilson is an African-American sociologist who was at the University of Chicago before moving to Harvard. In Chicago, he conducted research on poverty and wrote the book, The Truly Disadvantaged. He claimed that the disappearence of factories and industrial manufacturing jobs from many inner-city neighborhoods resulted in a drastic increase in poverty and unemployment. I wonder how many of these homeless people downtown, almost all of whom are African-American, ever were employed and simply were laid off, and how many never really were skilled or dependable or mentally healthy enough to have held a job.
Mayor Daley and some Illinois state lawmakers were concerned about this problem at an earlier time, although not concerned enough, but now, Illinois and the city are both teetering on financial collapse, and so funding for housing, vocational, and health care programs is extremely tight in Illinois and no doubt in California as well. Rahm Emanuel and the city council cut funding for city-run neighborhood mental health centers. A number of these clinics are in the process of being closed. At one of these facilities, protesters chained themselves to the inside of the building and had to be removed by Chicago police. A North Side alderman who is considered to be a good guy by many voted for the mental health funding cuts, and a meeting he held in his ward was interrupted by some people who were in disagreement. They stood up and criticized him publically. The administration claims that provisions have been made to increase services elsewhere, but the protesters say that the mentally ill are unable to travel to another neighborhood to go to a far-away clinic, where they are unfamiliar with both the location and the staff members. Even when the economy was doing better than it has been doing for some time, the services were not always adequate or accessible to those who were homeless or had other problems.
Our educational system produced citizens throughout America who voted for politicians who favored the deregulation of banks and of Wall St. and this it is believed by many led to much of the financial collapse. I am not sure all of the economic problems and mortage failures can be blamed on deregulation, but either political candidates in the past did not honestly represent their economic policy positions, or people were too naive and/or dumb to see what these pro-business people actually stood for and supported, and what the consequences of such positions might be.