Our schools are not working. The drop out rate in Montana alone is 16%. (Here in Helena it’s around 20%) For American Indians, only 63% will graduate.
Some say we need to throw more money at the problem. (As it IS a real problem; we are talking about young people with no sense of who they are, no marketable skills or a diploma. (I could debate the true value of a diploma but the bottom line is that most employers want to see one.)
One mom, desperate to see her son’s low GPA increased, resorted to having him hang out on a street corner announcing his apparent failure to the world. (That poor kid. Read about it here.)
I think the problem is more fundamental than a money or humiliation fix can address. Maybe…just maybe…SCHOOL is the problem.
People far smarter than I have given this great thought. Consider this jewel by Ivan Illich:
Many students, especially those who are poor, intuitively know what the schools do for them. They school them to confuse process and substance. Once these become blurred, a new logic is assumed: the more treatment there is, the better are the results; or, escalation leads to success. The pupil is thereby “schooled” to confuse teaching with learning, grade advancement with education, a diploma with competence, and fluency with the ability to say something new. His imagination is “schooled” to accept service in place of value. Medical treatment is mistaken for health care, social work for the improvement of community life, police protection for safety, military poise for national security, the rat race for productive work. Health, learning, dignity, independence, and creative endeavour are defined as little more than the performance of the institutions which claim to serve these ends, and their improvement is made to depend on allocating more resources to the management of hospitals, schools, and other agencies in question. Ivan Illich Deschooling Society (1973: 9)