America's Education System is Backwards


Education reform is a hot topic during election season, and most solutions involve tweaking the federal code, blaming the federal/state/local government, blaming teachers, blaming parents, and blaming students. These explanations look at symptoms and not the actual problem. The issue in modern primary, secondary, and tertiary education isn’t that teachers can’t teach, that the media preaches ignorance, or the government is too involved (though some of these may be true on a case by case basis). It is that our system is operating backwards.


In the modern educational system, we begin by teaching reading, writing, and arithmetic. This is a great start. Students need to be able to read critically, write critically, and do basic mathematics. But, other subjects need to be added: logic and rhetoric. Students need to be equipped with these understanding tools from an early age. The ability to speak your ideas and formulate complex concepts is important in a free society. At the early levels of education, we should teach (and only teach): grammar, logic, and rhetoric.


In secondary education (middle/high school), we should continue our focus on grammar, logic, and rhetoric, but also emphasize applying these concepts to other subjects. We need to begin to introduce the complex things that need to be discussed, analyzed, and formulated from this strong background. In the early secondary schools, we can introduce the basic sciences (natural science, earth science, astronomy), basic mathematics (algebra, geometry, trigonometry), and the basics of analytical fine art (music appreciation, drama appreciation, painting/sculpture appreciation). Unlike our modern classes, these classes would stress the analysis of these topics and the questioning of common wisdom. 

Does anyone expect a 14-year-old to discover anything new in biology? Of course not, but we need to implant the idea that study of a subject can be good in and of itself at an early age. Late secondary education needs to focus on allowing students to pick their own path of enquiry. If they are interested in the sciences, they should be allowed to pursue the sciences, dedicate their life to it, and have a dedicated curriculum for the pursuit of this idea. If it is the polis, they should also have a dedicated curriculum for the polis and gain a greater understanding of the concept of the state in a free society. If it is iron working or sales, then our education system needs to provide a way for these students to pursue that passion.


Tertiary education needs to be reserved for people that absolutely need it. In the United States, it was once possible to gain enough wealth in a single worker household without a college education. I know this because my great grandparents and grandparents were able to pull off this feat and live a well life. They worked in the factories and in even in management without a need for college. Today, for some reason, you need a college degree to screw bolts into a Greyhound bus. We are too college focused, as if college will save the world and everyone in it. We need a society where success does not require you to become $100,000+ in debt to get a $20,000 per year job ($9.62 an hour). You should not need a college degree to get into: management, logistics, hospitality administration, marketing, real estate, or risk management. Do you really need four years of college to understand this sort of thing?

Photo Credit: AmericanSolutions

How likely are you to make Mic your go-to news source?

David Greenberg

David Greenberg is a Juris Doctorate Candidate at the Walter F. George School of Law at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia. He graduated from Georgia Southern University in Political Science and Philosophy in 2013. He has worked in public policy and grassroots activism since 2009.

MORE FROM

Johnny Depp jokes about assassinating Donald Trump

"It's been a while," Depp said, "and maybe it's time."

Trump says he finds special counsel Mueller's relationship with James Comey "bothersome"

Trump says "virtually everybody agrees" that there's been no collusion or obstruction of justice.

'Hot Mic' podcast: GOP Senate health care, Comey tapes, 2016 election data stolen

The important stories to get you caught up for Friday

Watchdog groups sue Trump for deleting tweets, allegedly violating Presidential Records Act

Trump's deleted tweets may come back to haunt him.

Grizzly bear protections in Yellowstone National park are ending

A final ruling by US government officials will strike the Yellowstone grizzly bear from the list of threatened species after its population increased to 700.

Another day, another off-camera White House press briefing

The move to scale back on-camera press briefings comes amid Trump's increasing unwillingness to interact with the press.

Johnny Depp jokes about assassinating Donald Trump

"It's been a while," Depp said, "and maybe it's time."

Trump says he finds special counsel Mueller's relationship with James Comey "bothersome"

Trump says "virtually everybody agrees" that there's been no collusion or obstruction of justice.

'Hot Mic' podcast: GOP Senate health care, Comey tapes, 2016 election data stolen

The important stories to get you caught up for Friday

Watchdog groups sue Trump for deleting tweets, allegedly violating Presidential Records Act

Trump's deleted tweets may come back to haunt him.

Grizzly bear protections in Yellowstone National park are ending

A final ruling by US government officials will strike the Yellowstone grizzly bear from the list of threatened species after its population increased to 700.

Another day, another off-camera White House press briefing

The move to scale back on-camera press briefings comes amid Trump's increasing unwillingness to interact with the press.