On the way home from breakfast this morning, we noticed a car, an otherwise easy-to-overlook object, just another poorly maintained American-built automobile. I did notice, however the poorly-executed, multicolor, hand-painted sign on the back window, which declared the status of the occupants as graduates of a local high school class of 2012, to wit:
Clearly, these persons wasted the last several years of their lives, those years during which society was supposed to impart an ability to reason, lessons which passed right by these “students.’ They may just as well have saved the last four years at a place they didn’t want to be anyway and moved directly into the trailer park right after middle school.
Just as clearly, these were people who believed it when they were told they were special, who were given everything but the tools to succeed in life, who failed to learn much of anything useful during their scholastic” lives. These young people believed in the lie that they were getting the education they needed, rather than the education that our leaders feel that we can afford to give them without causing themselves re-election problems.
They were failed by their parents. They were failed by their teachers. They were failed by society as a whole. All of that time, all of that effort, wasted. They probably passed the required state and federal testing, “earning” a diploma, yet were not able to come up with a simple declarative sentence about their experience thus far in life, other than “Big-Ass 2012.”
Their sign said nothing more than “Look at me, look at me.” They didn’t even know enough to know what they missed, or how truly moronic that sign made them look. It’s silly enough to think that graduating from high school makes one special, especially in a society which believes that everyone deserves a trophy, every time, for everything they do, no matter how poorly. Their sign made it clear that they were more than silly, impinging on the rude and the practically uncultured.
One hopes that exposure to real life, including those facets which require them to take care of themselves and truly compete and cooperate, will round out their education, teaching them things that can’t be answered by filling in a test bubble with a Number 2 lead pencil. One hopes that they can learn on their own what their parents and teachers failed to teach them. Somehow, most of them eventually do.
But those that were left behind despite political rhetoric, and there are a lot of those kids, after realizing how little they know and starting to learn in their twenties, will already be many years behind, just as even our most well-rounded students are many years behind students of many other countries. We may give the biggest tests, and we may promote the best technology, but we are not succeeding, all to often, in teaching our children and students to critically think.