Education in the United States is really messed up. Our compulsory system and standardized tests suck all the joy of learning out of many (most?) people and it often takes decades to repair the damage done to creativity and passion. They are so structured that any deviation from the norm, no matter how important or valuable, is snuffed out as quickly as possible. I understand the intentions of our system and that many teachers are passionate and wonderful people, but they are fighting against a system much more powerful than they are.
They are like soldiers in the military. Most soldiers join to provide a better life for their families while protecting the ideals and country they love. They believe in freedom and want their nation to prosper, and they are willing to die for the cause. But, the soldiers have no say in where they go, or even what they do in most cases. They are cogs in a machine. Passionate cogs who joined for noble reasons, but cogs just the same. They are sent to fight and bleed and die in places that are not a threat to our freedom and only bring prosperity by funneling money into the hands of weapon’s manufacturers. The politician’s interests are rarely, if ever, the same as the soldiers.
In the same way teachers, with all their passion and love for students and learning, are stuck in a machine that prevents them from doing what they love. Choice about what to teach and how to teach it is made by bureaucrats and politicians. Our schooling is geared towards an economy that doesn’t exist anymore and the teachers that could make a difference are stifled by the need to teach certain things and have students memorize certain facts. Education has become memorization instead of knowledge, discipline instead of creativity.
I hated most subjects in school, but many of them I love now. I don’t think it is because I grew up, I think it is because I am no longer having them shoved in my face in a terrible institution. Forcing students to go to a prison-like building early in the morning and droning facts at them about subjects they aren’t interested in at the time has got to be the worst way to teach. I think some form of education is universally necessary, but I don’t think it needs to be standardized or executed in the way it is now. Most social institutions have undergone radical change over the last century, this change is not just in content but in character and operation. Public schools have not, they operate in the same basic ways they have for 100 years, even if the actual facts being taught now differ.
You can support teachers and the belief in education accessible to everyone and still be against how our schools are set up. Just like you can be for the soldiers and a belief in self-defense but be against our foreign policy. The problem isn’t the teachers or soldiers, education or self-defense, the problem is the institutions that govern them don’t have incentives that align with the goals. The bureaucrats, crony capitalists, and the politicians are the problem, and as soon as we get them out of education the better it will be for students, teachers, and society.