The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It


“Education is not a preparation for life;education is life itself.” (Attributed to John Dewey).

I am fortunate to have grown up at a time before the multiple choice exam became the norm.  In the early years of grammar school we were given arithmetic questions to solve.  We were expected to compute the answer.  We were expected to know the dates of significant historic events.  We memorized those dates and created hand-drawn “time line maps” to trace historical events.

Most importantly, I was not taught “what” to think but “how” to think.  I learned how to approach a problem, consider the various ways to solve it and to come up with an answer.  This ability has benefited me over many years.

I thought about this yesterday as my dog, Gracie and I sat in our little park enjoying the 50 degree fall weather.  Several of the kids in the neighborhood came to the park to play.  One little girl came over to pet Gracie and I asked her how things were going in school.  She said, “Fine.”

I asked her what her favorite subject was and she said, “Math.”  I was delighted as I have had a life-long love affair with math.  So I asked, “What are you doing in your math class?”  She said, “Multiplication.”

So I said, “Can you tell me what 9 x 7 is?”

I was startled when she reached in her book bag – pulled out her calculator and said “63.”  Actually, I think the word I’m looking for was “shocked”.

I asked her if she could have figured that out on her own – without using the calculator.

She looked at me as if I were moderately insane.  Her response amazed me.  She said, “Why would I have to figure that out on my own when I can use the calculator and get the right answer?”

I guess this is what today passes for what I call “edjumication.”  And I can’t help but wonder – what would these children do if all the batteries on earth suddenly disappeared?

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