Dear Mister President,
Do you know much about what goes on in public education? I mean you are the leader of the free world (or so they say), the arguably best country in the developed world. Well, maybe not the best at education -I think we’re pretty low on the list for education actually- but we sure are the best at blowing shit up. ‘Merica! So according to a study by Pearson and The Economist, the United States ranks fourteenth on the list of worlds best educators- Just above Mexico… Our bar for education has been set so low, that over the years it has ironically somehow ended up in the depths of hell.
Apparently we’ve been doing pretty well at educating our youth, just about as well as a particularly attractive prisoner is good at not being raped… Okay, but seriously, do you really think we will be able to keep up as a world power purely through brute force? I mean, China’s been nipping at our heels pretty hard thats no secret, and the kids seem to be getting dumber and dumber. Or if you’re a nice person you say that ADHD is on the rise and it’s not simply laziness it’s the fact that we bombard them with pleasure and then wonder why they are disinterested in something extremely boring- like algebra. Despite the almost unlimited resources and the fact that students now live in a period of time with the coolest shit in science, ever, going on all around them – they simply don’t care. Just because we spend three quarters of a trillion dollars on defense spending every year doesn’t mean that we are destined to be a world superpower forever. I mean seriously, remember all those jocks in high school? Who is doing better right now, them or the nerdy kids? Exactly- its the same thing mister POTUS.
I’m not here to bash you Mister President, and of course any world thats formed by a big explosion is going to be cruel and violent, but you’ve got to admit the way we approach public education here in the states hasn’t really changed much since the country’s foundation- over two centuries ago… God forbid I kidnap a baby Korean, keep him in my closet and force him to do my math homework- because that’s called slavery, but educate me in the way we did during slavery and it’s all cool. So, I know you’re a pretty busy guy so I’ve done all the heavy lifting for you. You do appoint the head of education, Arne Duncan, and he isn’t doing much either….
so just go ahead and email me at email@example.com if you have any questions about implementing my plan, it will surely change the country for the better:
- Scientific Method
I have no problem seeing why our country is in the dismal state it currently is when I learn that there are more individuals in the country who believe in Astrology’s validity as a scientific discipline, than more individuals who can name a single living scientist. That is ridiculous. The scientific method is one of the foundational ways of knowing, or rather, it is a one of the few ways in which we explore our world. Having so many of our citizens being scientifically illiterate is a huge problem, and the knowledge of methods in science is a huge piece of having citizens who can read the newspaper, watch TV, or sift through any information without being fooled by junk science. This is the reason why shows like Dr. Oz THRIVE, and it boils me mad. It’s just ridiculous that people don’t understand, and I seem to be ranting now, but the scientific method is more than something you study- its a lens you see the world through.
This might seem counter to what #1 because many philosophers often use ridiculous claims to say that science isn’t a true way of knowing, such as the induction fallacy, or scientism, or reality being a subjective experience. And while I hate arguing with pretentious people who do that, at least they are thinking. Philosophy isn’t a dead art, and a study of knowledge is essential for more reasons than I can simply list in a blog post. In my honest opinion, I don’t see any rational reason as to why we don’t teach critical thinking skills to our high school students- as a fundamental building block for all future learning. Just like learning the rules of the scientific method, philosophy isn’t simply the study of knowledge; it’s a type of lens through which to see the world. It’s The art of asking questions, as I like to say, and we don’t have enough citizens who simply stop to say, why?
MEMORY, Oh MY God how important this is. Probably the most important thing I’ve ever learned was how to learn something. Rather, how to keep what I’ve learned up in this big ol’ brain. I have a confession, and it’s that I’m an amateur mnemonist – a memory expert, I guess. No I don’t have a steel trap, I’m not naturally good at memorizing, but I use very complex sequences of mnemonics to learn things, memorize things, and download information to my brain. To be honest, two years ago when I started doing this was the point at which I believe I started being free. Free, because, the amount of information you remember, affects how much more information you can learn- or how much information about your world you can use and make sense of. I’m not sure if I captured how important memory is in this short letter but memory tricks are so simple to learn and can have such a profound difference on the way you approach problems that its a shame we don’t teach our students a basic skill that will have a tremendous impact on their life.
So Mister President, Here are Three small changes I posit to our high school educational curriculum that will better prepare our children to be a power in the global intellectual community. You may have noticed that the three changes I’ve suggested aren’t changes in what we teach, but to how we teach. Giving our students a more robust toolbox instead of simply sharpening tools that may go dull in a few years. Well, umm there’s more to this plan I promise, but just marinate on these for a few days and gimme a ring back Obama.