Learning Lessons Our Schools Can’t Teach by Dr. Mary Ruwart

Dr. Mary Ruwart has contributed a chapter from her monumental book, Healing Our World, on the problems of public schools, to the Parents For Liberty community. We extend our utmost gratitude for her support and endorsement.

You may download the free PDF here >>>  Learning Lessons Our Schools Can’t Teach

Here’s an excerpt:

The Bitter Fruits of Aggression

In the past 100 years, technological progress has been amazing. At the turn of the twentieth century, horses were still the mainstay of the transportation industry. Today, automobiles and planes take us all over the world. Letters used to take weeks to cross a continent; today, e-mail is delivered within minutes to any place on earth. Just a few generations ago, people died from simple infections. Today, with modern nutrition, antibiotics, and sanitation, infection is rarely fatal. In most arenas, radical progress has been made over the past century. Unfortunately, our educational system is one of the few exceptions.

In the early 1900s, our great-grandparents trudged off to the neighborhood school. For the better part of the day, the teacher stood in front of the class, chalk in hand, to expound on lessons contained in the schoolbooks. Today, our children take cars or buses to school, but once there, students listen as the teacher stands in front of the class to expound on the lessons contained in the schoolbooks. The facilities are newer, the chalk has become a whiteboard marker, and the curriculum includes some additional subjects, but otherwise our schools are still stuck in the horse-and-buggy days.

The cost of doing things the same old way, however, has skyrocketed. The United States, for example, spent 14 times as much per pupil in 1996 as in 1920, even after adjusting for inflation, yet educational surveys find the United States to be “A Nation at Risk.” Almost 25% of our high school students do not graduate, and another 25% know too little to get a job or go to college. By 1997, 20% of companies had to teach their new employees reading, writing, and arithmetic even though most of the new people hired had high school diplomas!

Literacy in the United States is on a steep decline. Before the end of World War II in 1945, 18 million men were tested to see if they could read well enough to be soldiers. Only 4% failed. By 1952, during the Korean War, 19% of the men tested were turned away as illiterate. The U.S. Army hired psychologists to find out how high school graduates were faking illiteracy, only to discover that they really couldn’t read! By the end of the Vietnam War in 1973, 27% of potential inductees read too poorly to be accepted. Reading isn’t the only arena in which our students are doing poorly. During international competition, U.S. eighth graders were asked,

“Here are the ages of five children: 13, 8, 6, 4, 4. What is the average age of these children?” The correct answer, 7, was one of the multiple choice answers, yet an embarrassing 60% of the U.S. students missed it. Perhaps students have difficulty with tests because their teachers do too. Some states now require instructors to pass literacy tests themselves. In 1998, 59% of would-be teachers in Massachusetts failed the test, even though they were college graduates and the test’s difficulty was at the junior high level.

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