Teaching Against Idiocy
Idiocy has not just plagued our time but was also a problem for ancient Greece, although the meaning might have changed over time. The author explores the challenge that democratic societies encounter in developing public-minded citizens. He argues that schools are in the best position to succeed in finding the root of idiocy. He also continues to compare schools to “village squares, cities, crossroads, meeting places, community centers, marketplaces,” since today schools are growing large and turning into small cities (Parker).
While contemplating the root of the term “idiocy,” the author explores the problems faced by democratic societies in the development of citizens that are mindful of the public. Schools today are working to create democratic environments in fulfilling their obligation to create public citizens. In addition to his argument on schools being suited to deal with this task, he provides suggestions on how best to improve these efforts and archive much success.
The role of schools in introducing children to different situations cannot be undermined. Integration allows children to meet other children from various backgrounds. The various types of tasks presented to these kids allow them to think for themselves. However, the idea that school does this solely is misplaced because the so-called idiots still go through these systems, which indicates that it is something beyond school that they lack.
If my understanding is correct, this description of Mr. Parker correlates with the high school I went to that was like a miniature college campus. In this, institutions are where children should learn how to deal with life. He thinks that schools are where children are made into adults or at least given the ability to deal with life and to become independent. He creates a reference to his school as having the most useful resources that are beneficial for children.
I grew up in a home that is well-grounded, family-oriented, which I believe has equipped me with the value of rationalizing, being compassionate, considerate, understating, and a good listener, with the latter being the foundation of all these other qualities. His idea is that school nature children into “puberty,” which is a term I believe he is using metaphorically. It is true that school probably play a crucial role in engaging children into various issues that define an environment outside the comfort of a home, but I am not sure whether diversity and problems are the most essential tools for a child to develop and become naturally capable of “growing up and thinking for themselves.” Instead of tossing them into a scenario like a simulation or a practical exercise, it is important to first teach a child right from wrong. A well-rounded person that is “democratic” is a result of guidance from the most important mentors the world has offered them, and that is their parents.
Before I joined the school and started interacting with various children from diverse races and ethnicities, my dad had taught given me reasons as to why our skin tone did not make us different. I was really curious because I did not know why God could create people who differ in terms of appearance and so I had questions. My dad went as far as bringing me to work where I was able to interact with people from different races because my neighborhood was not that diverse. So when I got to school, I was the only child that was friends with all minorities at my school. I knew what it meant to be “democratic” before I was five years of age.
Why this effort requires an all hand on deck approach is its complexity. Democratic citizens do not just come from nowhere to perfect the principles of tolerance, the need to question unmeasured power for the majority, the separation of state from the church, impartial justice, or the distinction between liberty and license. Children are not born with the natural disposition to agree with beliefs and cultures that are not familiar or with the ability to deliberate on public policy with different minded people. Rather they are molded by society, presented with moral and intellectual abilities in the process, virtues that are extremely hard to win.
There are many situations that can be presented to a child where a decision or a reaction is required depending on what they have learnt. Who should prepare the prior for these decisions one might as. The answer is parents, relatives, the community, and teachers. The only way a child can mature is from every person’s input and rationalization. Leaving such a task for school is illogical because of the overwhelming nature of school work and the lack of specific concentration of teachers on individual children. In this case, the “school should not be the center of attention. It is what the child learns from a collective unit that makes them “Democratic” and goes a long way in helping them avoid idiotic characteristics.
Parker, Walter C. “Teaching against idiocy.” Phi Delta Kappan 86.5 (2005): 344-351.