The Death of Education in America

As students report back to their various schools, I’ve noticed this article is getting renewed attention. When I started college in 1981, the motto was “learn how to learn.” Today’s motto, however, seems to be “learn how to earn.” There’s a twisted logic to this, given the expense of private schools (and many public ones, for that matter).

I was lucky to have teachers and professors who were passionate about learning, and who were not straitjacketed by the demands of standardized testing. Many of them were inspired, I think, by the counterculture movements of the 1960s. They spoke their minds, and I was the better for it.

Nowadays, when I look at available jobs in academe, I see a surging demand for various administrators, deans, student affairs, coaches, diversity promoters, and the like, but few positions for full-time teachers and professors. How did education become dominated by management? How did it become just another business, another product, another disposable commodity?

Last night, my mind boggled as a sportscaster talked about his “corporate family” on TV. Corporate family — an American oxymoron for this moment. Education, I used to tell my students, should provide you with a BS meter in life. Last night, my BS meter was pegged. Thanks for reading.

Bracing Views

zombie-grads Is American education becoming an exercise in mind-consumption? (Image: Jared Rodriguez / Truthout)

W.J. Astore

Trump!  Mueller!  Collusion!

I know: who cares about the education of our kids as the redacted Mueller Report dominates the airwaves on CNN, MSNBC, and similar cable “news” networks?

I care.  I spent fifteen years as a history professor, teaching mostly undergraduates at technically-oriented colleges (the Air Force Academy; the Pennsylvania College of Technology).  What I experienced was the slow death of education in America.  The decline of the ideal of fostering creative and critical thinking; the abandonment of the notion of developing and challenging young people to participate intelligently and passionately in the American democratic experiment.  Instead, education is often a form of social control, or merely a means to an end, purely instrumental rather than inspirational.  Zombie education.

Nowadays, education in America is about training for a vocation, at least…

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2 thoughts on “The Death of Education in America

  1. Having spent 37 years teaching history at four different private, college preparatory schools, I have to agree with you. The widespread commoditization of education is the bane of real learning and the liberal arts. Sigh…


  2. I heard that Sports Commentator @ Fenway Park too (name I won’t mention) I switched off on him as soon as I heard that one. lol Bob Uecker’s head is spinning like a Knuckleheaded Curve somewhere! :/ :o)


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