Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Don't worry about education - build peace in the minds of men

One of the problems with public, government run, schools is they try to solve world hunger. It seems like every political group tries to solve a problem by dumping another burden on public schools. Are children going hungry? Have public schools feed the students. Do we need to fix the environment? Then teach them about ecology. Are too many girls having babies? Well then have sex education classes. The list goes on and on and on.

The consequence of this is schools fail, dramatically, at what they were created and originally chartered to do: provide a solid foundation in reading, writing and math.

I recently came across one of the worse cases I've ever seen of this at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the UNESCO. In explaining what they do, what their goal is, their web site has:

"UNESCO - the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) was founded on 16 November 1945. For this specialized United Nations agency, it is not enough to build classrooms in devastated countries or to publish scientific breakthroughs. Education, Social and Natural Science, Culture and Communication are the means to a far more ambitious goal: to build peace in the minds of men."

Think about that for awhile.

It is good to set goals. Goals help us to reach and strive, moving us far beyond where we might ended up if we were drifting. But goal setting has to be reasonable, intelligent. I can have a goal of jumping to the moon, but such a goal will do little good.

Having such a lofty goal like building peace in the minds of men lets the organization escape accountability. The UNESCO is never going to fix all the angry and hatred that has built up over thousands of years. By saying they are trying to end strife, it is easier to cover up that they are doing little in help children have a better education.

The UNESCO would do better to focus on helping education organizations do a better job of teaching children how to read, write, and do math. Then the students would be way more capable then they are today. They would have the tools to really make a difference. Maybe after growing up the students could have a possible affect on peace in the minds of men.


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3 comments:

SQJTaipei said...

Henry:
I do agree with what you covered in this post... but the real value of what you have written (IMO) is that you've presented a problem and a solution and have done so clearly and reasonably and in a manner that should start discussions and provoke people to deep thought about the issue. Thanks.

Brian (a.k.a. Professor Homunculus) said...

What a good post! So this is where the roots of the current educational trend of "Anything but Knowledge" comes from.
I second everything sqjtaipei said.

Henry Cate said...

Diane Ravitch does a great job of showing the historical decline over the last hundred years of education in the US in her book:
Left back: A century of failed school reform.

I also strongly recommend Inside American Education by Thomas Sowell.