AMERICAN SCHOOLS: THE SCAPEGOAT FOR A SOCIETY OF EXCUSES
Being an educational observer with three decades of teaching experience, I have witnessed so many changes within our public schools. The majority of these innovations have been outstanding, especially in the field of technology. On the other hand, a few modifications in the American educational system were much harder for me to accept, as a dedicated practitioner in the field. Because of the latter, I feel a compelling need to express my thoughts on these subjects.
As a youngster under the dominion of very value-oriented parents, I was taught to view our world as being ultimately fair if you never gave up. Even fellow classmates, teachers, and principals I encountered during these youthful years of my life substantiated this credo. More importantly, my mother and late father (as well as the parents of my peers) totally supported their schools.
Unfortunately, such is no longer the story in today's society. Gradually, many people have been educated to believe, due to liberal litigation, that whenever there is a problem with their children, it is the fault of others. Thus, when troubles occur regarding their education, why not chastise the schools. But who do we really have to blame?
I think it began years ago when prayers were eliminated from the public school environment by the U.S. Supreme Court, championed by a person of questionable motives. The Court took away that free moment of school meditation from our children--a time to quietly reflect on their lives and/or their God. Something that was not bad. Instead, we have now replaced prayers with controlled substances in many of America's schools. Is this progress?
Next, corporal punishment came under fire by well-meaning, but ill-advised, child activists. Hence, this practice, that was extremely effective when judiciously administered, has been virtually eradicated from our public schools. As a youth, I was spanked on a few occasions in school. Moreover, I deserved every paddling I received (probably more). Corporal punishment definitely decelerated my mischievious ways, and my astute parents wholeheartedly endorsed it. Point being, I found no pity at home for improper behavior at school. I learned not to make excuses, to blame others, or to look for sympathy when wrong. But child advocates said that educators who performed corporal punishment did not have the children's best interest in mind. I don't know how you feel about it, but I always thought that teachers were "advocates for children," caring enough to properly discipline the students when it was warranted.
So, what do we currently observe in a number of our nation's schools? Well, folks, corporal punishment (the so-called "inhumane discipline practice") has been substituted with more civilized forms of punishment in the k-12 setting--students bearing knives, guns, and even bombs! Yes, we have truly come a long way for the sake of modern trends.
Furthermore, some parents and guardians throughout the country have not made this situation any better. Why?...because they have been increasingly indoctrinated to think that others are responsible, even when their children misbehave in school.
Believe it or not, many of these parents/guardians have been led to believe that their children are the victims in their schools, being punished wrongfully for inappropriate behavior. It is not their fault, but the fault of the adults in charge...the teachers.
Tragically, American schools have increasingly become the scapegoat for many of contemporary society's woes. A very unfair indictment as far as I am concerned.
Let us be honest with ourselves; nobody is perfect. Whether it be parents, guardians, teachers, doctors, lawyers, etc., no one makes flawless decisions every time. Still, as long as these individuals have the best interests of those under their care foremost in their hearts and minds, what more can we expect from this imperfect world.
Now I urge you who have fallen into this "find fault" trap to stop making excuses for your children, and to stop pointing the finger solely at our public schools. Rather, teach your children to accept the consequences for all their actions both in the school and throughout their entire lives. I am confident you will not regret it.
In closing, I ask you, where are we headed with this current, popular "blame-somebody-else" train of thought? Well, it is my belief that our society is on a subtle downhill slide toward moral destruction...and from there, possible oblivion. It has happened to past civilizations. Do not be so naive to think that it can not happen again.
As we near the new millennium, consider the following words from a very wise scholar:
"Every child deserves an occasional pat on the back, as long as it is applied low enough and hard enough."
-- Bishop Fulton J. Sheen