Andy’s Newspaper column archive

Why do we have schools ©

The 2014 school year is about to begin. The question of what our schools have done is best addressed at the end of the Fiscal school year in June. That is the proper time for a review of the years events, successes and failures. There must be a review somewhere.

We are about to embark on a new school year so perhaps the first order of business should be a determination of why we have schools. There are different kinds of schools, Public, Private, Home, Community Colleges, Universities, For Profit Colleges and the school of hard knocks.

As adults, most of us have been to one or more of the above, the longest running ongoing school being ‘hard knocks’. This school is something we attend every day. If we don’t learn from this, we will be experiencing the same lessons over and over again until we learn from them. The choice is ours. It bears repeating that if you keep doing the same thing which produces poor results and you expect different results this time, you are either a fool or crazy. Is it kind of like the saying, “When you’re up to your ass in alligators its easy to forget you came to drain the swamp.”

I do not believe we are fools or crazy but we do seem to keep doing the same thing over and over again. If we are dissatisfied with the results in education, what should we change? How should we go about even deciding if we are satisfied with the results?

My thought here is that we first need to define the major purpose of education in schools?  Are we succeeding at meeting that purpose?

Nye County has adopted the slogan, “Every child a success”. I have no idea what that means. It’s left up to each readers imagination. Here is the definition from the District web site: “We are committed to the students of Nye County School District, together we will continue to move forward with every child in mind. Our goal is to provide excellent instruction to every child, in every classroom, every day. This responsibility is the top priority of the Nye County School Board, District Administration, Professional Staff and Support Staff.” I still don’t know what that statement means.

OK! So why do we have schools? To prepare students to be productive members of society? To understand the workings of our Republic? So they can be self sufficient? To socialize with other children? As preparation to be a super jock? To get a break from the kids during the day? A place to spend tax money? To Satisfy our national need for more Unions? Because it’s the law? Is it all of these things and more? Somewhere in all these things lies the answer, but where can we go to find it?

We are conceived and then born with basic life skills. Breathing, swallowing, muscle movements, body functions. These are the basics. A child has no memory of things before birth. They have no understanding of why things are in the world they now inhabit. What is needed is a short cut to knowledge. Now comes the greatest invention of all times, record keeping. Without it we will only know what we can experience in our lifetime, what we are told and what we can remember.

In years gone by it was declared that the wheel was our greatest invention. Can you find the answer there? In the wheel? Of course not. If the wheel was the greatest invention shouldn’t the answer be there? Hmm?  My idea of the greatest invention was record keeping. Thus, came schools. Without schools we would still be drawing pictures on rocks and walls.

Yes, we can go far beyond the basics. The shortcut, although it may not seem like it, is the ability to use those ubiquitous records in expanding our knowledge of why things are the way they are. For example, if Thomas Edison did not keep a record of every experiment that failed, he may never have found the solution to creation of the light bulb. We, today, can go back to those notes and perhaps find other interesting and valuable items he discovered along the way. A shortcut to understanding.

Want to know what it was like to live in the early 1900's? Search information about weather going back 100, 300, 500 years. There are written accounts we can read today and use as comparisons to our weather now.

Today’s kids grew up with the myriad of taxes they encounter and accept it without a second thought. We adults know how it was before sales taxes and over half of our money went to Washington. When mom stayed home to raise the kids and your imagination could run wild listening to the radio or playing from dawn to dusk with friends.

I believe school is to bring our youth into the society we have built and to participate in it to their fullest capabilities. The shortcut to this endeavor is the school. In elementary schools you can see student academic achievements on the walls, in the halls, every where. In middle school it starts to lose steam and we find almost zero recognition for academic achievements in High school. Go to the high school office and take a walk through the halls. Look for the evidence. What has the purpose of school become? Look for all the academic achievement trophies. The evidence seems to suggest that once a student enters high school, academics takes a back seat to sports. You’ll see lots of sports awards and trophies. Let me know what you see.

This may seem like the long way around to answer the original question, why do we have schools? It is the basic question each school board member must answer as this new year begins.

What are you doing to promote our scholars??

I’ll look forward to your Emails

Andrew Alberti Jr