Education Molds the Nation

Do we even want to look at what the mold is creating these days?  I can promise you it’s not pretty…

“Laws for the liberal education of youth, especially of the lower class of people, are so extremely wise and useful, that, to a humane and generous mind, no expense for this purpose would be thought extravagant.”

~ John Adams, Thoughts on Government, April 1776

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Honestly, the above quote from John Adams seems pretty sufficient to make my point.  But lest I start giving historians a reputation for brevity that would be entirely undeserved, let’s dig a little deeper.  It’s nice to see schools getting attention in the news for a change.  Unfortunately, it takes tragedy to make us think about the future of our children (and that our children are the future of our nation).  Of course, we’re so terminally short-sighted that all we are concerned about is their physical safety.  And even then, we’re addressing the rare problem of school shootings and not the rampant safety issues faced at lower income schools where students are endangered daily by the environment they face getting to and from classes.  Not a word gets said about the long-term problems created by an education system that churns out students utterly deficient in basic learning as well as the necessary knowledge to be good citizens and productive members of society.  Education is the cornerstone of a democratic republic like ours.  It’s what makes citizens capable of understanding our government and their role in it, as the ultimate power on which our government rests.  Do we really think that we’re preparing the young minds of our time to be the ultimate power in our society?  If you know a single teacher from preschool to university level, I bet they have horror stories to tell you about how we are failing to do just that.

If you think the founding fathers intended to have music, art, and the elements of classical education cut so states and districts could meet their budgetary requirements or fund football programs, you are out of your mind.  Art and music were considered essential for a truly educated person in the era of the founding fathers, and organized sports were unheard of; in fact, “sport” in general was considered to be a hobby.  More importantly, the founding fathers knew that education was extremely necessary to ensure our new government functioned as it was intended.  As Adams expounded in another work of his, A Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law, “…liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people, who have a right, from the frame of their nature, to knowledge…” or basically, without knowledge, liberty dies.  The founding fathers expected every citizen would be able to have a public education that would provide them with the fundamental tools to be capable and productive citizens.  Adams, especially, believed this was most important for the citizens who had the least because they were most in need of it.  Our current system of allocating educational resources based on the wealth of the district the school resides in would completely baffle the founders.  Because it is contrary to everything they believed public education should be.  And if we’re really thinking about it, can we really afford to do everything besides educate the future citizens of our nation?  If there is one thing I’m certain will drive our nation off the edge, it’s a population that no longer knows what liberty is nor how to maintain it.

Res Publica

Documentation without Representation:

John Adam’s Thoughts on Government from the Papers of John Adams, 4:86–93, April 1776

http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/documents/v1ch4s5.html

Electronic text courtesy of The University of Chicago Press

John Adam’s A Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law, August 1765

http://www.teachingamericanhistory.org/library/index.asp?document=43

Basic electronic text courtesy of the Ashbrook Center at Ashland University

http://www.masshist.org/publications/apde/portia.php?mode=p&id=PJA01p108

This electronic version courtesy of the Massachusetts Historical Society shows the evolution of Adam’s thinking as he wrote this paper, and is a very in-depth examination of the text

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