What should be taught in public schools

The purpose of education is twofold: To teach students useful skills needed in life, but just as important, to teach students how to live which is what good character is all about.

Public education is failing miserably on both counts. Too many graduate without basic reading and math skills and far too many graduate without knowing the value of punctuality, dependability, orderliness, truthfulness, competence, curiosity, sharing, compromise, hard work, and family values in general. Critical race theory, which teaches kids to resent their neighbors, and sexual education, which encourages promiscuity, is definitely not something that should be taught in elementary public school.

How to read and do basic math is important but just as important is what you read and what you use those basic math skills for. In reading the emphasis should be on reading about the trials, tribulations, joys, and rewards of daily life and introducing technological and basic science topics which give real life examples using the scientific method, problem-solving skills, and the concept of experimentation such as experimentation with the taste of different foods.

When it comes to basic math skills, these should be coupled with applied math as soon as possible, with examples of budgeting money for expenses using calculators and introducing percentages or fractions with the aid of calculators so that students can understand percentages that appear on product labels. Financial literacy like budgeting is just not taught in most public schools nor are basic shopping skills such as knowing what a unit price is compared to the total cost of a product. Few graduates know how to calculate the price per pound, per ounce or per kilogram, per gram of a product and then are able to compare that with the price of similar and different products.

Far too many graduate without understanding what interest rates on credit cards and on mortgages really mean and how to calculate them for a purchase.

With religious teaching rapidly declining in many families, many public students don’t have a complete understanding of morals or ethical principles and how they relate to everyday life. An indoctrinated religious moral code of behavior is not being replaced with a secular moral or ethical code that covers the same territory of human behavior, especially in elementary school and preferably before the age of about 13.

Not having strict ethical principles to guide your life means for many a hedonistic lifestyle that can’t distinguish which behavior is good or bad, and what addictions to avoid as much as possible. The do your own thing or do what feels good philosophy often results in mental illness caused by addictions to lying, laziness, selfish behavior, promiscuity, pornography, alcohol, drugs, gambling, video games, social media, excessive shopping, and even crime. The net result is a disorganized dysfunctional brain and lifestyle filled with misery, stress, confusion, and yes, mental illness for many.

Some education like hands-on lab experiments, vocational skills such as carpentry, plumbing, and auto repair, participatory sports and music, and in-person social behavior skills can’t be totally done on the internet at all. But the majority of subjects can be taught via the internet. So, the question arises: Other than for elementary school, is going to a physical school to learn really necessary in many cases? Individualized, interactive, audio-visual computer learning is a distinct and desirable alternative but is still in its infancy as far as development is concerned.

Individualized, interactive, audio-visual computer learning at its ideal best is one student and one competent teacher interacting over the internet with verbal interchanges and excellent video images of the subject being taught. Unfortunately, this one-on-one instruction may be very efficient but not when trying to teach 30 or more students who have different learning rates and different understanding of the subject matter. It has been shown scientifically that interactive audio with verbal student input or feedback improves the retention of subject matter by about 70%.

Some feel that computer-assisted instruction during the pandemic was a great failure. There are many reasons for this. Computer instruction was a very new experience for students and teachers and not all are computer literate, especially in poor neighborhoods. Most of the instruction was not individualized and interactive and was rather boring passive instruction with a video presentation or the teacher delivering written instructions to the student.

When students who are not self-motivated learners, unlike the best students, are taught this way, they have a tendency to tune out and not absorb the material being presented. Let’s face it, most students are not disciplined, motivated self-learners and consider reading and math hard and unpleasant subjects to learn. So, the best individualized, interactive, audio-visual computer-assisted education was not tested, standardized, and available to all students across the nation. Internet education was broadly a failure with perhaps a few rare exceptions in wealthier communities where self-motivation and computer literacy are greatest.

Individualized, interactive, audio-visual computer instruction is still in its infancy since you need the instruction adjusted to slow, medium, and fast learners. Just like in present classrooms, if your instruction program is only geared towards medium speed learners then you bore the fast learners and confuse the slow learners. So, computer technology will eventually replace the need for most teachers but before it can do so there needs to be considerable improvement in instruction techniques or computer software.

Many may not need a college education for many things unless they are going into law, medicine, or a Ph.D. status career. Kids are learning on their own through Zoom which is online audio video conferencing. This conferencing can be led by a competent motivating teacher who can be the best math or English teacher in the community or world.

Interactive education can be gamified so that it is not just hard-to-grasp memorization and regurgitation of information only. Gamification is the integration of game elements like point systems, leaderboards, badges, or other elements related to games into “conventional” learning activities in order to increase engagement and motivation. This gaming approach can make the learning experience less boring and tedious. So, internet learning can almost become a delightful fun learning experience

The new generation is almost a lost generation searching for meaning with community input and not just input from family and few friends. So, students join communities to get a sense of belonging and to share their spiritual views and lifestyle with others, since religion is on the decline and humans still yearn for moral or ethical principles which they can share and live by.

What should not be part of the educational experience is the promotion of critical race theory, promiscuity, political correctness, totalitarianism, intolerance of moral or ethical opposing views which are not criminal, blurring of gender identity, or trying to obliterate the genetic difference between men and women, and Muslim Sharia law which oppresses women unjustly.

What society really needs more of is good, trustworthy, ethical role models in leadership positions. Not needed are untrustworthy woke role models who are graduating from a failing, increasingly dogmatic, ideological, and misguided public educational system which now includes public colleges and universities. Education is failing miserably on many counts. Only time will tell whether individualized, interactive, audio-visual computer instruction will rescue education from its deterioration, especially in poor, crime-ridden neighborhoods.

Image: Pixabay / Pixabay License

If you experience technical problems, please write to helpdesk@americanthinker.com