The Real Crisis in American Education

Last fall I came across this quote in Harper’s magazine from Mark Slouk:
“Why is every crisis in American education cast as an economic threat and never a civic one?”
Great question. The lens through which we look at schooling will determine the kind of schooling we offer our children, and if our goal continues to be staying competitive in the global marketplace we will continue to focus on those skills that lead to such productivity, regardless of whether such a competitive edge serves the needs of a world in the midst of many crises. Why isn’t our highest priority to provide our children with an education that enables them to be fully engaged truth-seekers and truth-finders who are creative, courageous, compassionate and wise.

The world is changing so fast. Even if we were to cling to an economic goal for schooling, we would still do better to provide youth with critical and creative thinking skills and adapt our classes to our ever-changing world. Our children have facts at their fingertips, but they do not have a means for obtaining critical and creative thinking skills unless they have parents and teachers who cultivate these with rigor. So on two counts we are falling short.

Critical and creative thinking are the great tools of the mind, but our children need the passion of their hearts in order to commit their lives to doing good in the world and embodying their deepest values faithfully.

Zoe Weil
Author of The Power and Promise of Humane Education and Above All, Be Kind: Raising a Humane Child in Challenging Times

Image courtesy of krossbow via Creative Commons.

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