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Monday, June 16, 2014

Education, School and What they are Becoming

*Edit* Some of the links in this article have been added after it was published

According to The Lord's scriptures as defined by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, "The glory of God is intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth." (D&C 93:36)  God has given us a commandment to "seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith" (D&C 88:118) as well as to "study and learn, and become acquainted with all good books, and with languages, tongues, and people." (D&C 90:15)

So God expects us to learn, to get an education and gain as much knowledge as we can in this life.  What we have learned and become as people will be all that we can take with us when we die.  I'm going to use one more scripture and then get on to the point of this.  The Lord has even said "...if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come." (D&C 130:19)

The reason I use these scriptures is that they illustrate the meat of what I want to get at.  We need to always be increasing our understanding of the truth about, well, everything.  Math, computer science, geology, language, psychology, chemistry, biology, the arts, nutrition, and a plethora of other subjects are all things we need to eventually come to comprehend fully; but even more importantly, we need to know the truth about it all.  If we are ever to reach our true potential as children of God, to become like Him, to know what He knows and be able to do things that He does, we need to know the truth about everything.

But this is where the problem lies in societies standards of learning today.  I have separated the words 'education' and 'school' in the title because I believe schools today are leaning further away from comprehension of true information and further towards filling our heads with static information for no other purpose than regurgitating it. Does this mean that all schools in any public or private schooling system involving a building is bad?  Good heavens no.  But what it does mean is that most the systems, public and private, are focusing too much on knowing and too little on application.  It takes the whole purpose of learning away.

Lets take a bit to remember what Hitler did to the school system in Austria.  Listen to this.  What this woman is describing is happening all over again in many societies today.  The government is taking far too much control over schools.  There is very little emphasis on learning and more emphasis on memorization.  Many elementary, middle and high schools, and even many colleges, are now treating their students like measuring sticks, statistics, lemmings to be controlled and indoctrinated, forced to agree with whatever the government and school officials see as acceptable.  With society's addiction to having all of life's answers spoon fed to them, there is far more push to read, memorize, regurgitate, repeat, over and over, without any meaning, pushing social interaction and real life application of the truth behind all this knowledge out the window.

Real human interaction is going down the tubes and a mostly inhuman approach to 'schooling' is now becoming more and more widely accepted as the new standards.  Do you know what happens when you take the humanity out of education?  In the first 14 days of school in 2014 there were at least 7 school shootings, and when you compare that to a total of 28 school shootings in 2013 all year, that gives you a better idea how well these schools are NOT doing at encouraging social and moral order.  Is this the fault of the schools?  Not entirely.  Many parents today just don't understand what it means to teach their children moral values.  Either that or they are so 'comfortable' in their own bad habits that they don't bother to teach their children to do any better.

I'm no expert on parenting, but I think it's safe to say, as a general rule of thumb, if parents aren't teaching good values in the home, it will carry over to all other aspects of life.  But that's not the end of it.  When school's punish the good kids for something as stupid as twirling a pencil, chewing a pop-tart into the shape of a gun, exposing a teacher who is abusing their students or any of these things, but at the same time allowing garbage like irresponsible teachers, punishing a kid for standing up to a bully, taking away parents rights to what values their children are taughtinviting students to question the validity of the holocaust and penalizing a teenager for getting evidence about being bullied, it's obvious that the level of bureaucracy behind these schools is suffocating human nature as it is meant to be.

This mom very clearly shows one of hundreds of examples of how far gone too many schools have become.  To illustrated this further, I'll refer to something I learned a while ago in a PC repair course.  RISC and CISC stand for Reduced and Complex Instruction Set Computing, respectively.

RISC would execute instructions for removing a dead light bulb like this.

Step 1: Open Hand.

Step 2: Proceed to move arm up until in contact with light bulb.

Step 3: Close hand around light bulb.

Step 4: Turn hand in a counter clockwise motion.

Step 5: Open hand

Step 6: Turn hand in a clockwise motion.

Step 7: Close hand

Step 8: Repeat steps 3-7 until light bulb is no longer in socket.

CISC would execute the same process like this.

Step 1:Raise hand until in contact with light bulb.

Step 2: Turn counter counter clockwise.

Step 3: Repeat step 2 until light bulb is no longer in socket.

What Common Core is doing is taking the concept behind RISC way too far.  It doesn't teach people the critical thinking skills vital for getting by in the real world.  It's spoon feeding information to people without teaching them to use their brains.  I realize many people feel very strongly about this subject so I'll end it there. But the point is the same.  Many school professionals are caring less and less about what education is supposed to be.

The dictionary defines the word educate as "1. To develop the innate capacities of, especially by schooling or instruction. 2. To provide with knowledge or training in a particular area or for a particular purpose..."

Notice that the first definition denotes school as the means to an end, developing innate capacities.  The whole purpose of school is supposed to be to help people develop skills and abilities and to put knowledge to good use, to use what is learned and truly understand how it applies to the world around us.  Education is supposed to be a way by which we understand the people and the world around us.  As long as schools and parents are treating education like a robotic process, this constitutes, to me, complete and total failure from both parties.

I went through the customary 12 years of public school and was fortunate enough to not be subjected to this mechanical process so unfairly enforced upon far too many people today.  For me there was no indoctrination of how I or anyone else should or shouldn't be allowed to view certain moral standards, no being forced to keep my religion quiet when an opportunity came to answer a question, no teachers enforcing policy over morality, no being punished for doing the right thing even if it made someone else uncomfortable.  I was not forced to stand and recite the pledge of allegiance, but not kept from doing it either.  If I ever had a question about class material my teachers would work with me as much as needed independently when they had time to help me truly understand it instead of just brushing me off and saying "Oh just read it again until you get it" or accusing me of not caring about the class or neglecting studies or saying "you would get it if you studied more."

I attended Colorado Mesa University (previously Mesa State College) for a year and got the same treatment there.  My professors made my education personal, useful and applicable to real life.  After I got married I couldn't afford to go back to any official public college so I educated myself in my chosen fields, music and web development. I poured over W3 Schools, TeamTreeHouse (subscription given to me as a birthday gift), web developer forums, and Youtube. My wife and I bought music theory books from a local college and other music stores and I studied them. I searched arduously for biographies of common practice composers and learned about their styles. I am subscribed to web design and development news letters that inform me of the industries latest updates, practices and technologies.

My main point in all of this?  Education is not nearly as much about learning as it is about comprehending truth. It's about making something of ourselves, interacting with others, sharing ideas, discovering together, exploring, exposing lies and living the truth.

Education goes so much deeper than just memorizing facts and information.  Please, educate yourself.  Do it however you want to.

But if your school isn't assisting in your education the way it was meant to be, it's no good to you.