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Tom Toles
Posted at 07:15 AM ET, 08/28/2013

Back to school

In honor of the return of the dreaded School Days, School Days and the endless, raging debate about education reform, I thought I’d offer a few under-informed but possibly slightly different thoughts on the subject.

Education did need reforming. It had come to seem soft and edgeless and non-urgent and time-filling and not Meeting the Needs of a modern economy. And we’ve been trying. And we’ve discovered that’s it’s not so easy as we thought. Decades of experimentation, but success is remarkably spotty, considering the rhetoric. The pattern has been breakthroughs followed by subsequent statistical evaporation of gains.

Education has always been something of a lagging indicator, teaching the lessons of the just-prior era, but eras are changing so fast now, I wonder if it’s even possible to keep up anymore. The arguments about teaching to the test are interesting and valid, on both sides of the question, but what on earth do you put on the test? Are Facebook privacy settings on the test?

Look at traditional subjects. English, my major. Does anybody discuss novels anymore? That’s history. And then there’s History. Don’t want to skip the lessons of History and repeat the same mistakes! But if history teaches anything, it’s that we never learn from it and ALWAYS repeat the same mistakes. Art. Should we just re-label that as Commerce now? Math. Now there’s one we can all agree on and support! Except computers now do it all for us. Science. Another winner! Unless you mention evolution or climate. Can’t get controversial! Reading/Writing. Keep it brief for internet purposes! So I’ll quit now. Class dismissed.

By  |  07:15 AM ET, 08/28/2013

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