Education

Too often the political debates around education are framed as public education versus private schools, or around college debt, or around what sort of subjects can be taught in the actual classroom. Sometimes these debates seem to me like they are forgetting that the information revolution took place.  Like we are debating as if it's 1994. 

 

The internet was just starting out for me around my High School graduation of 1994, so I think I have some sense of how education was before and after.  I attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln for six years, but dropped out with 6 weeks left before graduation- two 3 credit hour courses left.  An Electrical Engineering degree awaited and probably a fairly high paying job.  The attached audio goes into a bit about why I dropped out, but here in the text I want to look a little about how.  I can pretty honestly say that without the internet, I would not have done it. The people in my life- my family and friends almost all thought it was crazy- no doubt many still do.  But the internet allowed me to seek out other voices (John Gatto was one of those early internet influencers of mine) that were speaking to some of the conflicts that I was having.  

 

This resource (the information age) has had the greatest impact on human society of probably anything else the last 30 years.  It's relatively new on human timescales, and as we all know by now, voices from cyberspace can often overwhelm voices from family, friends or teachers- for good or bad.

 

I have never taught formally.  I've had some experiences with kids at some of the jobs I've had and organizations I've been involved in, but a lot of my knowledge of the state of the current system comes from my brothers who have both taught school and other people (on and offline).

 

So I come to debates around things like critical race theory kind of perplexed- do you think that if these things aren't taught that kids can't find out what's going on by a Google search?  Of course, it's more about authority and trust, right?  Do the parents trust the teachers? Or vice-versa?  Do the kids trust their friends or the YouTube talking head?  Never before have kids (or the rest of us) had so many options on who to trust.  No longer is education about lack of information (although making broadband free and universal would be something I support), it's about who you trust and how it's presented.  It's about how much time and what kind of distractions you have.  It's about how much freedom you have to search for answers vs. how much time is required to perform for a test.

 

I don't envy teachers or parents or students who are in the middle of this.  If you go far enough in reading other sections of my website, you'll see that lots of my thinking has been influenced by Modern Monetary Theory (MMT).  So in education debates, the first thing you'll see from me is- Is it just a shortage of money?  Does everyone agree that having more teachers per student would be a good thing? If so... if you have teachers ready and willing to work... it can happen. It's just a matter of passing a bill at the Federal level to help states and municipalities afford these things.  We don't have to have these constant debates about whether there is enough money for things that almost *everyone* thinks would be better.

 

On the deeper issues of the structure of schooling, private vs public, homeschooling, whether student debt should be repaid- these aren't just questions of money.  They also involve questions of justice, grace and who should be in positions to garner trust.

 

Why I dropped out of college with 6 weeks left
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The background is work from my college Partial Differential Equations class.  I've long since forgotten what it means.  It's kind of insane to me- it might just as well be hieroglyphics at this point.