Many Americans live in a fantasy world, as you will learn, which may explain why fantasies and animated movies for children often earn so much money at the box office in the United States while more realistic films of a literary nature earn little.
When Henry Kissinger wrote, “American exceptionalism is missionary. It holds that the United States has an obligation to spread its values to every part of the world,” he may not have realized that spreading these idealistic values applies within the US too, from whichever group has enough political power to make it happen.
Two of these values are how to raise and educate children as if all children are equal and there should be no obstacles to success. The only parallel comparison I can make is that what has happened in America since the 1960s, is similar to what happened in China during the Cultural Revolution but without the slogans.
However, like China during the Cultural Revolution, teachers in the US may face denunciation but for different reasons. At least in China, that insanity ended in 1976.
In the US, this led to a public education system that now teaches most children as if they will all go to college, find happiness and succeed equally.
This American Cultural Revolution also spawned the self-esteem movement in parenting and education, which still raises and teaches the average American child to believe what she dreams will come true (even if she doesn’t work for it).
Due to this wide spread belief among many Americans, a law was passed by President G. W. Bush in 2001 called the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), which mandated that America’s Public schools had to be successful with all students from every walk of life and ethnicity by 2014 or be considered a failure.
NCLB did not require students to study or parents to support teachers or education. The penalties for failure are severe and were designed to only fall on the shoulders of America’s public school teachers.
If a teacher was not successful teaching every child from every walk of life that was enrolled in his class, he could lose his teaching job and see the school where he taught closed even if he succeeded with more than half of his students.
Many factors may cause a child not to cooperate with his teachers or learn in school. When we consider the impact of poverty, hunger, health, safety, environment, lifestyle, and broken families on children, not every child is equal.
When it comes to school, if a child’s mind is occupied by other, more pressing priorities such as hunger or safety, education often takes a back seat to survival, which is a fact that many in the United States refuse to accept.
However, when we study the education systems of other countries such as China, it seems that these real life issues ignored in the United States are treated as a reality of life.
Continued on September 6, 2011 in Education in the Real World – Part 2
This edited and revised post originally appeared on August 8, 2011, at Crazy Normal as Civil Disobedience and No Child Left Behind – Part 4
Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.
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