Everything that's wrong with American education summed up in one image

A photograph came across my screen today that perfectly encapsulates what's wrong with modern, traditional education.  (I use the word "traditional" as a contrast to Montessori or Waldorf schools.)  In it, we see that a child gave a correct answer to an ambiguous question, only to be told his answer was wrong because the teacher was unable to see beyond the confines of her answer book.  Things like this turn students into the kind of mindless drones who think as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez does.

Here's the photograph:

Internet meme.  Origin unknown.

If it doesn't come through clearly, what you see is that the child was given the following problem in a math class:

8. Reasonableness Marty ate 4/6 of his pizza and Luis ate 5/6 of his pizza. Marty ate more pizza than Luis. How is that possible?

As you can see, the child is presented with a statement of fact: Marty's 4/6 of pizza was less than Luis's 5/6 of pizza.  The child is asked to describe a scenario in which this is, in fact, a possible outcome.  Presumably, the word "reasonableness" was a tip-off that the answer should be "that is unreasonable," even though the question isn't framed to elicit such an answer.  "How is this possible" is framed to elicit an explanation, not a denial.

In the case of the photograph, the smart child noticed that Marty and Luis were not sharing a single pizza.  Instead, each clearly had his own pizza.  The child, obviously bright, immediately realized exactly how this could be possible:

Marty's pizza is bigger than Luis's pizza.

That is a correct answer.  Not only is it correct, but it also shows a child with a flexible mind capable of thinking outside the box.  If this child gets encouragement, he's the one who will invent a cure for blindness, a safer car, better cookware, or something else wonderful that makes the world a better, happier place.

But that is not how the average public school teacher thinks.  She lived in the bottom third of her college class before getting her teaching degree.  Her training to be a teacher consisted of lots of social justice and wokeness, along with the urgent mandate that she stick strictly to her teacher's answer book.  (There are teachers who are incredible exceptions to this rule, but my essay is not about them.)  In this case, the answer book didn't allow for a child's thoughtful and accurate answer.  Instead, it instructed the teacher to write this:

That is not possible because 5/6 is greater than 4/6 so Luis ate more.

Image: Corporate flat art perfectly exemplifies the depersonalization of an American classroom.  Image by pch.vector.  Freepik license.

This is not unique. When my daughter was in 4th grade, the teacher gave a spelling test.  One word was "fluorescent," and the sentence the teacher read to contextualize the word was something about how the bulb went out in "the fluorescent light fixture."  My daughter spelled the word correctly and got marked down.  The spelling, insisted the teacher, was "florescent."  When I sent her a photocopy of the dictionary definition showing that "florescent" refers to something capable of flowering, she rejected that.  Her teacher's handbook could not lie.

Lisa Simpson knew who and what these teachers are:

The problem with teachers like the one who graded the work above is that they train children not to think, but instead, to follow rules and to color within the lines — and if the lines make no sense, the children must simply retreat to a position of safety that the teacher will support.  This is the kind of 2+2=5 thinking that Big Brother employed against Winston Smith in Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four.

This is also the kind of torturous thinking that makes kids slavishly do whatever makes the teacher happy.  That, after all, is the only sure way to avoid the arbitrary, capricious, and stupid mandates that guide traditional education in America.  If the teacher wants you to declare that your "gender identity" differs from your "biological sex," so be it.  After all, Mom and Dad want you to get As.

My children spent several years in a classic Montessori school.  Every single teacher there was a leftist, and it didn't matter.  These teachers did not teach to a book; they taught to a child.  Children were encouraged to think outside the box and bring creative approaches to learning and problem-solving.  Education was tactile, practical, and always tied to provable facts, not to answer books.  While students in traditional schools think only of their grades and, therefore, are entirely dependent on the teacher's goodwill, Montessori students think about learning as an endlessly exciting time of exploration and growth.

American children are in deep trouble at schools filled with young, leftist, mindless drones who view their students not as lovely, growing, infinitely adaptable beings to be encouraged and cultivated, but as factory widgets who must be forced, through all the coercion public schools have, to fit a single (usually leftist) mold. 

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