I haven’t done an education post in a good long while; let’s see if I’ve still got the chops. Seen this lately? It’s making the rounds on DevilBook:
I succumbed to my baser urges and replied to it on one person’s page, and let me make it clear that I’m not holding her responsible for this, as the notion “Americans should be better educated” is one that I’m gonna hold to and agree with pretty much no matter what the circumstances. However, what I’m not gonna be okay with is the idea that most of these concepts (and others like them; there are several variants of this little meme picture) aren’t taught in school.
They are. In damn near every high school in America and most of the middle schools too. I have personally taught about at least half of these things. You just didn’t pay attention, because you were a dumbass kid and this was adult stuff and it was boring. The problem is no one ever writes a meme post about “Shit I should have paid better attention to in school.” It’s always the teachers’ fault.
You took an econ class in high school, right? It’s mandatory in Indiana. That class covered accounting, money management, taxes, and credit all by its damn self. I covered all of those things, excepting only “good credit,” with my middle school classes in a required class you might be familiar with; it was called math.
Nutrition? I bet you took a Health class at some point. Required in Indiana in both middle and high school. Job and careers? I actually taught a class called Careers to middle school kids. Pretty sure something similar exists in high school too. Self-defense, okay, I’ll give you that one, but the rest of them? Give me a damn break. If you weren’t paying attention, I don’t even blame you, because expecting little kids to be intimately curious about shit that won’t affect their lives for ten or fifteen years is a little unreasonable, but the idea that the subjects were never covered is nonsense. They were mandatory. You just blew them off. And that’s on you.
A moment, then, on the last part, about being “forced” to be “fluent” in at least one other language. I am actually pro-foreign language education. I just think that goddamn near everyone in America should be taking Spanish. A solid majority of American citizens, especially anyone who works in a job facing the public, could do with, if not fluency, at least a passable working knowledge of Spanish, enough to get through a basic conversation. I’ve had some furniture sales that were conducted damn near entirely in Spanish and I’m not remotely fluent. But I can get by if I need to. That level.
The notion that Americans, as a whole, require something called “fluency” in any language other than English is fucking ridiculous, though. Is it good? Sure. Is it necessary? Crazy talk. Go ahead, bring up Europe. Europe has 300 languages because when Europe was growing up you were going to be born, live, and die within fifteen miles or so of the same goddamn spot and it’s easy for languages to bifurcate and split during a couple of millennia of that type of social evolution. Africa, Asia, same thing.
America? America used to have lots of languages until the white folk moved in and killed everybody who spoke them. Now? English, party of 350 million. If I’m in Germany, I can get in my car and drive for eight hours and I’ll for damn sure be somewhere where people speak a language other than German. If I’m in America and drive for eight hours I may not even be out of my state. Are there localized pockets of people who speak other languages than English and Spanish? Sure, tons of ’em, there’s lots of Poles and Pennsylvania Dutch around here, for example. Are there jobs where knowing another language is useful? Sure. Does every American need to “be fluent” in a foreign language? Come the hell on.
Apropos of nothing, I just looked up and saw this from the window next to my desk:
The walls aren’t that yellow, but I haven’t altered the color balance in this picture at all. In the last ten minutes the temperature has dropped from ninety to sixty, rain has started, and apparently outdoors is in black and white now.