Last week, Rachel Wasserman wrote a column advocating for an education revolution. While the thought of a radical movement may be appealing to some, it is unrealistic given the current American climate.
Rather than simply regurgitating a series of utopian ideas and inspirational narratives brought forth by a creative theorist, it is best to anticipate reality.
Instead of simply criticizing Wasserman’s reflection, I propose not an educational revolution, or an evolution, but an educational expansion. The American problem lies in the lack of proper education across the socioeconomic spectrum.
When comparing the educational environment of America to other nations, it is important to consider the areas in which progress has to be made. Clearly, the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) core is the most responsive to technological growth. However, civic education should not take a backseat.
We must improve the system through a holistic approach, not one that destroys the old in order to make way for the new. A revolution would completely eradicate many of the positive precedents set in place in order to establish the foundations of education. These precedents have proven to be successful tools.
In response to Wasserman’s assertion that there should be a comprehensive reform in how education is measured, there is a reason that our current grading system hasn’t been replaced with a completely collaborative educational effort.
In order for entirely collaborative education to work, it would have to be implemented by an entire industry — young, old, superior, inferior, public and private institutions alike. Many institutions have previously attempted to construct such a curriculum to no avail. The reason is that there is no mechanism to integrate these students into a largely standardized world.
Education is an important and critical tool in its current form, and we should treat it as such. Sure, a revolution sounds great, but Wasserman — and Ken Robinson, whom she quotes — fails to understand the short-term ramifications of such a radical change.
Politically, uproar and opposition would hurt the construction and proper implementation of a new system. Without public support, the introduction of a new system would instigate problematic responses. Such political scrutiny would inhibit proper development and acceptance — both of which are crucial in maintaining public trust.
Economically, the creation of a new system is equivalent to reinventing the wheel, and no public budgets in the United States could account for such costs. Poverty levels are a primary reason for the trend toward rethinking education. Initiating a complete and widespread revolution is sure to have fiscal implications much more dramatic than an annual levy. Any reform ideas that ignore fiscal policy are unreasonable.
We must sharpen the tools we already have; they are not bad, just a bit dull and tattered. Just as we must prepare for a storm, rather than praying for it to go away, we cannot ignore the signs and implications of reality. With that, I urge Wasserman to put away her torch, pitchfork and angry disposition and accept that growth does not occur overnight. American education will grow just as it always has, it just takes time.
Editor’s Note: Rachel Wasserman’s original column, “An education revolution is long overdue,” can be found here.