Kevin Kruse: School serves mindless cramming

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In a hilarious article, Kevin Kruse, contributor to Forbes, writes about his own children. They are Straight As. They master facts in a wink. However, when it comes to actual knowledge, they have no clue. This is not their fault. This is how the education system has been designed.

I have three teenage children and, for the most part, they get straight As in school. And I’m convinced they know nothing. (Sorry kids, it’s not your fault.). And I’m angry. The activities of last night are a regular occurrence. I stared down at the yellow sheet of paper. At the top: Roman Empire Study Guide. I read the first question aloud, “Who was Octavian?”. “I don’t know,” my 13-year-old son answered. I moved on, “How many years did Pax Romana last?”. With a shrug, “Don’t know.” Even though the middle school social studies test was the next morning, neither of us was panicking. We both knew that within 30 minutes my son would be able to recall the answer to every single question. We knew he would get an A on the quiz. (And he did.) Because I’m really good at teaching my kids memory trick; I’ve taught them how to be great at short-term memorization [...] But I’ve been shocked over and over again at just how little they recall, and how they have no context of how what they are learning applies to today’s world. When my son couldn’t answer how long Pax Romana lasted—the answer is approximately 206 years—I thought he would remember it with an association. So, I said, “Many people right now think our own country is at risk of crumbling like the Roman Empire. There are many historical similarities between the United States and Rome.” And then the fateful question, the one that would lead to my anger and this article. “So, son, about how old is America?” “I don’t know.”

Kevin Kruse claims his article is scary, and that it bodes ill for America. I disagree. The article depicts the reality of schooling. It only illustrates the great potential for change. We can move from the misery of the present school system to a brighter future. See my: School Reform.


Quoted excerpts come from the following reference: