The War on Education
How We Are Destroying Ourselves
Look on social media and you are likely to come across memes, comics, or stories about how modern schools are failing to educate students. At the same time, there seems to an increase in "anti-science" groups, poor writing skills, and fake news. This is no coincidence. And while many of those who make arguments against modern schools have valid points, there are misunderstandings and false claims that are destroying society and the world as we know it.
What's Wrong with Modern Education?
Before we discuss the problems that arise from a lack of education, we must first talk about the flaws in the school systems that first sparked this debate.
Most of the issues in education come from the way things are taught or how school is structured. For example, one common claim is that school dulls kids and makes them less creative. One can understand where this argument comes from when examining political and statistical aspects of the education system. Music and art programs are often the first things to suffer budget cuts. In addition, many schools do not require such classes like they do for science, English, or math. These are subjects that foster creativity and they are deemed the least important.
However, it does not need to be this way. I am now a college student studying music and psychology. My performance skills and confidence in my knowledge has increased dramatically since starting college. If you ask any musician about their technique or growth, they are likely to tell you about their teachers and how they benefited from lessons. Education is a powerful tool—when it is properly funded, tailored to students' personal needs, and incorporated into everyday life.
The issue is not with education itself, but on how schools and politics approach the subject.
Anti-Vaxers, Flat-Earthers, & Conspiracists... Oh My!
In recent years, there has been a rise in groups that speak against science and the advancement of important environmental movements. These are largely due to a lack of basic knowledge about said topic.
In 1998, Andrew Wakefield (a British doctor and researcher) published the research that started the anti-vaccination movement. Later stripped of his medical license, Wakefield faked his results and had serious concerning issues with his research. A small group of children were used, bringing into question if any results achieved could be applied to a larger population. There also appears that few precautions taken to prevent researcher bias—a necessity for any research.
Students educated in experimental designs and research methods would understand how this invalidates any claims that Wakefield made. Education on this also makes students more skeptical, preventing them from falling prey to mob mentality or false research findings.
While it seems that many groups, like flat-earthers, are simply ignoring facts they know to be true, many ideologies can be traced to a lack of knowledge. Flat-earthers often have little knowledge about physics or space science. These are topics that explain why scientists came to the conclusion that the Earth is round, even before the use of satellites and photo-imaging of space.
Other conspiracies have also arisen from a lack of education. The moon landing was a great event that seemed ahead of its time. In fact, the TV and film industry was still in development! It would have cost more to put together and film a fake landing than actually going to the moon.
Educating students in science helps them become more aware, skeptical, and independent adults.
Climate Change & Earth's Destruction
More recently, there have been major efforts in environmental conservation, and average people seem to be more aware of their impact on the Earth. However, there are still many naysayers and individuals who do not understand how climate change works.
Chemicals released by car emissions and power plants have many devastating effects on the environment. The atmosphere is thinning, the oceans are becoming more acidic, and the greenhouse effect is causing rising temperatures throughout the world. Much of the science explaining why this happens can be complicated, but we can't expect people to understand unless we try to educate them.
Education is the most important step in saving the Earth.
Financial Illiteracy & Student Debt
One of the largest criticisms of education is the price of college. While it is true that the price of higher education has increased drastically compared to other services and industries, financial illiteracy also plays a role in student debt.
Students are often uneducated in important matters like loans, types of aid, and educational programs available to them. This may cause them to make poor decisions and mistakes regarding their finances.
It seems contradictory that you need education to get an education, but it is a sad truth that demonstrates the many different forms of education in our lives. Many students learn these important things from their parents. First generation students rely on their earlier schooling for information.
Many studies have concluded that higher degrees are associated with higher income. This means a lack of information regarding finances is, in part, responsible for the poverty cycle and income inequality.
Education is crucial in closing the income gap and promoting equality.
Looking Towards the Future
Education has allowed us to create advanced societies and learn about the universe. In attacking schools, we are forgetting the importance of learning and we are seemingly going back in time. The rise of anti-science groups, a cycle of poverty, and a dying planet all should serve as a wakeup call to us all.
There are issues with the education system, but they do not overshadow the benefits of basic education. We must not frown upon education but ask ourselves how to improve it. Have we advanced far enough or are we striving for something greater?