The race is to….
There are fast learners and slow learners. There are bright kids and dull kids. There were those who could run faster and throw the spear further and who as a result found themselves at the head of the class. And there were those who struggled and ultimately failed to run fast and throw far and found themselves left behind.
Things have always been so. However, in past ages we heard only about the strong, those at the head of their class. Their stories were told and celebrated. No one wrote about the stragglers, nor was anyone troubled by their not being in the race, let alone their not sharing in the benefits that went to the winners.
In the modern world things are different. First Christianity and then democracy have brought the needs of the slow and the weak to the foreground. Now developed nations are intensely preoccupied with how the advantages of the few and the strong might be extended to the many and the weak. And the primary means, probably the only means, of doing so has been and is still to take from the former and give to the latter. One might even say that the redistribution of wealth is what governing is now all about.
On the face of it, good democrats and good Christians that we are, we could not disagree with this new strategy. For we recognize the intrinsic worth of each individual life and it therefore becoming incumbent upon us to create the conditions in which all lives, not just those of the strong, can flourish. Not easily done of course.
Our public schools, at their beginning in the 19th century as well as during the present epoch of No Child Left Behind, were and are an heroic attempt to have everyone in the race and have everyone finish. Of course this hasn’t yet happened. Large numbers of our children are still dropping out of school altogether, and even larger numbers, although they may have “finished,” or graduated, have acquired in the process few of the skills and only bits of the knowledge they will need to succeed in their endeavors.
For 100 years or more reformers have been asking what is to be done and there have been at least as many answers as reformers. But up until now the answer is what it has always been. Those who run fastest and throw furthest are still at the head of the class, and ultimately go on to occupy the positions of authority and power in the nation. Too many others are still far behind and we don’t yet have the answer.Explore posts in the same categories: Education