I loved high school. I loved the memories I have of parties, football games, and hanging out with my friends. These are the things I have taken with me, not the useless information acquired in the classroom.
That’s the lede of an astonishing little op-ed piece called “On Schooling’s Useless Lessons,” by a vapid half-formed protojournalist attending the University of Iowa. Previous experience with op-ed pages might lead think this is the ironic setup to some moral fable about appreciating your education. You would be profoundly and entirely wrong. It gets worse.A problem exists within the high-school education system: It doesn’t prepare students for their careers.
A world of insight into Idiot America is contained within that sentence. Idiot America doesn’t want education, it wants training. It dreams of rote skills allowing it to sleepwalk through a lucrative career with a minimum of thought. Education as preparation for life is a foreign concept.When I decided in high school that my major was going to be journalism, I took the only class offered by my school in hopes of learning the journalistic writing style. I didn’t learn anything from that class. My teacher was not a journalism teacher; she was an English teacher. We spent every class silent reading instead of learning about the inverted pyramid.
You can learn a lot about good writing by reading, if you’re not too blinkered by single-minded career goals to pay attention. The kind of things good journalists learn long before they master the inverted pyramid. Things our columnist must not have learned, since she writes with the style and insight of a petulant junior high student.The school system needs a reality check; most students aren’t going to be mathematicians, historians, or chemists. So why do we have to take these classes?
Because our knowledge of history grants us insight into the present. Because an understanding of science grants increased understanding of the physical world. Because we, as individuals and as a society, are faced with countless problems every day, political, technical, and moral; and knowledge of science and history helps us to make wiser and more informed decisions about those problems.
All of which means nothing to Idiot America. Idiot America doesn’t think. It prefers to act on instinct.