Pop quiz: What educational system are these statements describing?
- Nowadays more [students] attend school than ever before, but they learn much less. They learn almost nothing.
- During a [teacher's strike] I remember walking through the temporary campground in search of a teacher reading a book. Among tens of thousands, I found not one. I did find people listening to disco-decibel music, watching television, playing cards or dominoes, vegetating. I saw some gossip magazines, too.
- So I shouldn’t have been surprised by the response when I spoke at a recent event for promoting reading…“Who likes to read?” I asked. Only one hand went up in the auditorium. I picked out five of the ignorant majority and asked them to tell me why they didn’t like reading. The result was predictable: they stuttered, grumbled, grew impatient. None was able to articulate a sentence, express an idea.
- We have turned schools into factories that churn out employees. With no intellectual challenges, students can advance from one level to the next as long as they attend class and surrender to their teachers. In this light it is natural that…we are training chauffeurs, waiters and dishwashers.
It’s an op-ed in today’s New York Times about public elementary and secondary education in Mexico. But – and perhaps this is me simply being bitter in a long semester, three days before spring break – I am often left feeling statements like the ones above could just as well apply to public higher education in the United States.