|Beale Street, Memphis. Another great equalizer of abilities - too much alcohol. No?|
Another point of view expresses disgust with such a belief (and let me say, I don't necessarily agree with this perspective, but I do find it more related to the real world than the first), and these people are usually more oriented toward the "American Dream," where if you're willing to work hard enough, you will be able to get ahead no matter what obstacles you face to get there.
(Yeah. I know. Yet another lie we've all been told, and so many of us still cling to. But if a society doesn't have ideals, then what holds it together?)
A third perspective, falling somewhere in between these, presents an interesting alternative for many people living in American society, and this relates to entitlement. And whether you like it or not, public education is an entitlement, guaranteed to all and paid for by your tax dollars. Matter of fact, the typical cost of educating a single student far outweighs the average costs incurred by one elderly individual drawing social security and depending on Medicare. Many people don't like to hear it, but it's true.
That myth about old people running this country, voting to protect their entitlements? It's not exactly a lie, but you have to wonder, in the face of this truth, isn't it possible they see the younger generation as having access to a different piece of the pie?
Not exactly ground-breaking assertions I'm making here, and most of you probably recognize at least some portion of what I've said as true.
But a while back, I made a discovery about myself: I was leaving me out of the equation. Yes, democratizing the education process means that many who don't belong are forced down a path that really isn't the best for them. But democratization also means that I, and each of my peers, has been granted the opportunity to go down a path that was formerly reserved for well-to-do white men.
Watching Mad Men has been very good for me in so many ways. So has joining a quilting group of little old ladies who tell me how it really was. Working with a leftist professor who remembers segregation, the civil rights movement, and women's lib also makes me realize how lucky I am.
What's my point? Maybe we waste a lot of money on students who don't care. I often deal with the apathy radiated by both students and their parents, or the plain old hatred for the school-jail that forces them into a mold, determining all possibilities for future economic success. (Incidentally, this last bit is just an unfounded myth that so many educators believe and espouse as a type of religion.) But I'm still all for it. A student who seems to have no interest in the education today may carry some of the lessons of the classroom with him or her for life.
Even if the lesson is so intrinsic that it remains unrecognized.