The Critical Arizonan
Keeping it critical…

The Purpose of Education

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Around this time last year, I listened to a radio show that was discussing the merits of education.  The show, a quasi-conservative talk program, featured a renown educator most notably for his columns on the need for improvements in education, particularly public education. 

During the course of this show, they decided to take some calls and I recall one from a female college student.  The caller was completely excited to tell her story and experience dealing with various professors that sought to corrupt young minds forming them to become the next generation of liberals.

The guest to the talk show (the renown educator) asked her a practical yet philosophical question about the purpose of education.

The caller, in turn, responded “to learn, tee hee”.  The educator was pleased with her answer and continued to have the topical conversation.  I, the listener, rolled my eyes and gave a sigh.

The problem here is that the purpose of education is not to learn.  The true purpose of education is to seek truth.  Learning is accomplished as a benefit but it is not the sole intention.

The reason why I mention this is because of this article about home-school enrollment in today’s East Valley Tribune. 

Overall, this piece is not awful.  I am quite pleased that the Valley is well above the national averages.  However, there are quite a few reasons that were omitted as to why parents teach their children at home as opposed to public education and even private schools. 

Parents have real concerns about what schools are prioritizing as important, the material and manner in which subjects are taught, and the various mandates of the government on children and parents (like certain vaccinations, sexual education, etc.).  This list is not exhaustive but the ones mentioned are certainly worth noting.

There is the obligatory quote that all negative articles need to insert about the socialization aspect and its impact on children.  The Tribune, to its credit, does insert a counter point…

Nancy Manos, board member of Arizona Families for Home Education, a nonprofit educational corporation, said Arizona had 32,000 home-schooled students as of June 2004. She scoffs at what she calls a misconception that these children are locked away.

“In reality they’re out in the world meeting people of different age groups more than kids in schools, where they’re segregated by age,” Manos said.

One additional item that I would like to add is that children do play and interact with other children in their neighborhood, the other home-school families, outside classes, and even within their own families.  Children play with children. 

Now, the face of playing has changed over the years as well.  I remember as a boy playing all kinds of sports both organized and unorganized, war, hunting, fishing, hiking, riding bikes, wrestling, and all other “boyish” activities.  I would come home after a long day with cuts, scrapes, ticks, bumps, and bruises with a huge toothie grin ready for dinner. 

I look around my neighborhood today and I don’t see the same for the next generation of children.  I credit this to the nature of the world, not the nature of which type of school children attend.

Ok, so here is the part that irked me.  It was one of the comments that followed the article from “Selma”.  She responds…

With all this religion being incorporated into their home lessons, most of these kids are going to end up being ministers or Sunday school teachers. They’re getting alot of bible-babble instead of real science. I’m thinking that very few of them are going to grow up to be doctors, physicists, inventors and engineers. It does not bode well for our future. In 25 years, the U.S. will be back in the Dark Ages, while the rest of the world passes us by in medical breakthroughs, technology, and modern advancements.

Let’s take this piece by piece.  Selma has a problem with religion used in classroom instruction.  To this end, I am sure that Selma also has a problem with Catholic schools, Christian schools, Jewish schools, and so on, right Selma?  Of course, everyone knows that the bain of man’s existence is the absolute acknowledgement that there is a God and He wants to be known.  Oh, how selfish of Him.

Point two, apparently Selma also has a problem with those that choose ministry either lay or in service as clergy.  She doesn’t credit them as actually adding to the good of society.  I will make a note of this and send it along to Mother Theresa’s community, George Mueller’s family, the Reverends Billy Graham and Martin Luther King.

Point three, Selma suggests that very few will become doctors and scientists because their little lemming minds are filled with “bible-babble”.  Hmm, I think Selma may have forgotten the majority of history which is chock full of monks, nuns, priests, ministers, and clergy of all kinds that have added “real” contributions to society including math, science, physics, accounting, art, music, literature, philosophy, and all other subjects that are valued as easing our existence. 

Let us also not forget that generations of home-schooled children that later become productive members of society that have added countless contributions including agricultural advancments, law, and thousands of other areas.  These same children that you have already dismissed are also those that are joining the military, becoming leaders in public policy, and joining the blue collar workforce as mechanics, and so forth.

Point four, I think Selma actually proves in her posting the benefits of home-schooling.  It is blatantly obvious.  The same accusations that she accuses home-schoolers of is in fact what she is most guilty — ignorance.  She claims, in a backhanded way, that these parents and children are closed-minded, failing to see what is really valuable.  Selma, in fact, these families actually have things in perspective.  They are focused on the search for truth instead of feeding from the scraps of “education” that the government is providing.

Think about that for a moment… government providing.  It makes me shudder.

I don’t think that I even need to bring up the fact of the academic excellence and achievement that is statistically proven.  Nor is it necessary to point out the greater participation in civics, patriotism, exemplary citizenship, or charity. 

In short, home-school families should be commended for not only their commitments to education, country, family, success, and leadership but also for the fact that they don’t need the government to help them. 

You see, success lives and dies by their efforts not by government bureaucracy, government inefficiency, lack of government accountability, and social engineering.  Trust me, as a former school teacher, I know.

One last thing for Selma… when day is done and chips are down you can look to the home-schoolers to make tomorrow an even better day than yesterday.

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