THERE IS a tremendous concern in this country about our educational system. At least 1,567 commissions are studying it, 18,732 professors are now writing books critical of it, and every politician running for office is demanding a change in it.
I myself have opted for the Makepiece Plan, put forward by Harvey Makepiece of the Society for the Abolishment of the Three-Chocolate-Milk Lunch.
Makepiece told me, "It's obvious that 5 and 6-year-olds are not ready for grade school. Their minds and bodies are too fragile to take on the difficult tasks that their teachers assign to them. They should have more leisure and fun before they get down to work."
What do you suggest?" I asked him.
"We send them to college first and let them work off their high spirits."
"I'm not sure I follow."
"Let first graders have their first taste of school in college. Give them a chance to join sororities and fraternities, go to football games, frolic on the campuses, and have pantie raids in the dorms. College is not the time for serious school work and it is the perfect place for children from the ages of 5 to 9 to have a good time and get used to attending classes, where they can sleep, flirt or cheat on their studies.
"Very few demands are made on college students. They can cut classes, spend their days in the student union and their evenings listening to rock music."
"And then what?" I said.
"After four years of college, a child is ready to tackle high school. High school, as you know, is just a little tougher than college and a child would have to get down to work. Not too much work, but enough to get him or her interested in books. The student would still have an opportunity to attend football games, date once in a while, if he or she wanted to go to an occasional dance and drive around in a car after three o'clock.
"But high school would still give the youth a feeling that life is not a bowl of cherries and that he or she is going to have to take education seriously.
"Also the student would have to work hard because he or she knows that there are only a certain number of places open in grade school, and to be able to go on to the school of his or her choice would mean making the grades to qualify."
"Then," I said, "What you're advocationg is that grade school be the last one a student must attend."
"That's correct. After the pleasures of college and the joys of high school, a student whould be mature enough to face life in the tough world of grade school. There are no fraternities or sororities to distract them. Social life is at a bare minimum, teachers in grade schools don't take any back-talk from their students, and corporal punishment is permitted. Lower public schools have no football teams or extra-curricular activities. If the truth be known, it's an eight-year grind and no one accepts any excuses from a kid who can't make it from grades one to eight."
But grade school is so long." I protested. "Do you think teen-agers could go to the distance without dropping out?"
"No one drops out of grade school. All of them are prepared to come to grips with it, particularly when a grade school diploma will be the highest one that any student can receive. A grade school education under my system is what every parent in this country will want for his kid."
"But what about graduate school?" I asked.
"Those who want to go on to graduate school could enroll in kindergarten."
"You're advocating a complete reversal of the American educational system." I said. "Do you think this country is ready for it?"
"After what we've seen of our students for the past 10 years, this country is ready for anything."