From a Teacher,
It may come as a surprise to you, or it may not if you’ve been paying attention to this country over the past 20 years, that the majority of our problems as a society can be directly correlated to the break down of the family. This has been the premiere criticism of minority communities when crime stats in the United States are discussed and when pundits / talking heads exhaustively attempt to explain the problems facing the specific communities. I do not think it is an unimportant viewpoint. I do, however, think that the problem is more politically obvious within the middle class as a whole. Perfectly illustrated by our government when we are adults and by our school system when we are children. We simply don’t understand family but we desperately want it.
Firstly, it is important to understand that while politicians laboriously explain to their droves of admiring fans that everything is going to be better once we start manufacturing goods again, what they are doing is drawing a symbiotic relationship between the economy and the family. I am not naive enough to assume that financial strain doesn’t have a detrimental effect on a family as the two are not mutually exclusive. Therein lies the problem. They play such a large role in one another that there is no distinction. What needs to occur to fix the problem is simple; one simply needs to outshine the other and become the backbone for the other. How does that happen? Easy. Basically; teach your kids to work, to ask for nothing, to expect nothing and to have a desire to achieve which rivals and prevails against their own dreams, thus facilitating them. Let American families dictate their own lives and the economy will follow. But teach students about the changing economic landscape first. I address that in the last two paragraphs of this post. The problem is that we can’t even understand our own economy as I mentioned earlier in this paragraph, let alone our own families. We are under the thumb of the idea that we don’t make anything in this country anymore and therefore we are failing as a whole and that the American family is suffering by proxy. As pointed out by Kevin D. Williamson in the March 28th issue of the National Review:
“Americans have false beliefs about manufacturing for a few reasons: One is that while our factories produce much more than in the past, they employ fewer people; another is that we tend to produce capital goods and import consumer goods — you won’t see much labeled “Made in the USA” at Walmart, but you’ll see it on everything from the aircraft flown by foreign airlines to the robotics in automobile factories overseas.”
America produces and continues to produce. What this country is not producing anymore are people who have a vision for their own futures which conform to the realities of a constantly changing marketplace. In my view, this is principally because; Americans no longer have a concrete idea of family let alone it’s importance. If they did, they’d be more concerned with how to produce and compete in the future, in anticipation of being able to afford and care for a family rather than hanging on to assembly line jobs which are rapidly disappearing. Case in point; the liberal left. Regardless of progressive rhetoric and an overall whiny narcissism, the greatest achievements of the American left in recent times have been: the legalization of same-sex marriage and ersatz nationalized healthcare. The ideas of a progressive may stand in stark contrast to the ideas of a cultural or even philosophical conservative, but their ideals are oftentimes more similar than either would like to admit. Ideals concerning the desire for stability and extolling the virtues of normalcy and family. The fact is; regardless of changing the variables in the institution of marriage, the initiative to make gay marriage part of the norm in this country was purely based on the belief that all people should benefit from family. It was blanketed in, “equality” when in truth it was practically driven by it being more of a tax issue than anything else. But consider for a moment the relation between equality and family. Both are so sought after in this country that we are all convinced we know what each term means to a letter. However, if that were the case, gay marriage would have never been an issue. We are a long way from consensus. Two fathers, two mothers, three fathers, a mother two fathers and the electrician, whichever recipe creates a family is a-ok in the mind of a progressive. The question at that point has to be; are these people really interested in changing the family dynamic permanently or are they simply looking for a dynamic which makes sense to them because they have an overwhelming desire for family? We are by and large, a royally confused country.
When it comes to healthcare in this country; the progressive left has decided that the government has the responsibility to care for it’s citizenry’s health. This belief should not shock anyone not aligned with the left’s agenda. For years, minorities living in cities which mine as well be Democratic citadels, have been told that they are screwed from the moment they are born for no other reason than they were born. (I am not going to examine racism in the United States in this post, that can come at another time.) We are told constantly by politicians that we are incapable of making our own decisions. After a long enough exposure to that sort of spirit crushing condescension, it is natural for a person to start to believe it. When it comes to ObamaCare, the powers that be, have convinced themselves that they are working for a greater benevolence, a common good, which is worth the disenfranchisement of nearly half the country who simply didn’t want the law in the first place. The realities of ObamaCare are far more polarizing than unifying. It is true that people’s wages have gone down on account of it. It is true that people who would otherwise not receive certain treatments have benefited from the current system. What is also true, however, is that regardless of the flowery language used by both sides of the aisle; America is not supposed to be a day care. If nothing else, America is supposed to offer equal opportunity under the law, dictated by the auspices of personal freedom and guided by the stark, unpleasant realities of the decision making process of personal responsibility. No more, no less. I’m sorry, but the government is not your family, no matter how much you’ve been brainwashed into thinking it should be.
So Where do schools come into play?
From the very beginning we send our children to school with the hope that they become complete adults one day. The child is put into groups, categorized immediately. Grade, class, activity group, lunch rotation, team, club, new school with different categories, class based on ability, college prep, honors, high honors, teams, clubs, new school with different categories, dorm, grade, class, declared major, fraternity/sorority, teams, clubs, organizations, etc. Confusing, right? Add on top that through the entirety of the student’s academic career, they are being told that they are a, “school family” and not only will you have one confused child, but unless they go home to a relatively classic, stable home-life, they will organically come to the false realization that families are extensively compartmentalized and tracked. Kids are not being taught about the ever changing American marketplace. Kids are not taught about how to compete within their own classrooms anymore. Academically, our students suffer because of the lack of attention to how the child operates when they are not being shuffled around a school like cattle. In my time as a teacher, I have noticed one startling thing. The students who do the best academically when it comes to testing are the students who are the worst at working on their own when it comes to any assignment where they are told to be creative. They are experts at following directions but are helpless when given a topic, piece of paper, pen and a half hour to free-write something about it. That doesn’t bode well for a country let alone a rapidly changing and expanding global market.
We tell children that they are part of a larger school family, yet families are supposed to nurture children and provide for their futures. My students can tell you how to graph a polynomial, but none of them can tell you how to lay out a budget. They can tell you what the names of the different accent marks are in French, but can’t tell you how to make french fries. Is this the fault of the schools? Partly. We are not taking the precious amount of time we have with students and utilizing it to teach real world skills eventually moving into instruction about the wilderness of the future American economic landscape. We are teaching kids about which car reaches Dallas first from New York. So as educators, what is our responsibility when it comes to preparing a child to grow, mature and eventually be able to support their own family? To create a generation of kids who aren’t enthralled by the prospect of a society’s glamorized vision of socioeconomic, evolutionary regression. What are a couple of the many important responsibilities of the family? The responsibility of the family is to firstly, exist. Secondly, be special enough for the student/child to not only draw a clear distinction between, government, school, organization and family, but want to draw that distinction. The best education starts at home.
That is not on me, as a teacher.
Families clearly need to do their jobs, too. But how can they? The institution is so ethereal at this point we’re not even sure what it is anymore.