I have had the sad opportunity to observe our educational system slide from being one of the best in the world to a point where students are no longer provided the basic tools for communication, computation, or knowledge of our past. The three R’s were once the foundation of instruction, basic skills of Reading, wRiting, and aRithmetic.
Educators have been removed from control of classrooms, removed from the concept of setting high standards for their students, and removed from guiding the discipline of education. By definition, discipline: activity, exercise, or a regimen that develops or improves a skill, training. Students are offered low expectations due to impairments of culture, disenfranchisement, or another excuse for not demanding the performance of which they are capable. I believe students will rise to the level of the instructor’s expectations, whether the instructor is a parent, teacher, drill instructor, or employer. It is ludicrous to believe a person’s intellect is contingent upon the color of skin, color of eyes, or any other convenient, non existent excuse.
We became the most advanced, most successful, most envied, most respected, and yes, the most feared nation on the planet not by making excuses, but by excelling at what we did as individuals whose education was founded on the three R’s. We put men on the moon without personal computers. Apollo 13 was safely returned from in flight disaster by a crew who computed their course with a pencil and paper. Newspapers and magazines were diligent in their efforts to spell correctly and use correct sentence structure. Today, students are not taught the basic rules of Arithmetic, but instead are expected to understand what is called core math. Spelling and usage of correct verbiage is lost in news articles, not to mention tweets, blogs, and comments found on the internet. I am embarrassed when I see lead in place of led. Sure, they sound the same, but one is an essential element on the periodic table, the other a verb expressing being moved in a direction.
As a nation we have failed to teach our students how to speak, write, or even how to appreciate the printed word. Young people enter the business world without knowing how to make, let alone count back change. Without a computer to tell them the correct amount they are lost. Simple arithmetic, an everyday event, but no longer apparently taught. How can they be expected to understand basic business principles like profit, mark-up, margin, or taxes if they do not even know how to make change for a dollar?