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Blog: 'Me thinkth thou dost protest too much'

An old curmudgeon shares his jaded opinion on education.

And I’d be so bold as to say that quote from Shakespeare’s Hamlet applies equally to Public School Superintendent Steve Guthrie’s 5/25 article on Patch, expressing his concerns about the “number of staff cuts he’d have to make in the operating budget due to shortage of funds.”

But I would not have expected him to say anything other than that. For I’ve heard that same poor-mouthing-intended to excite public sympathy-so often over the years, that I stopped crying even crocodile tears.

And it’s as obvious as the nose on my face, that superintendents, along with the school boards have never, or will be, satisfied with the funding amount they receive from the BOC’s, regardless of  whether the county government’s financial situation is in dire straits, as it is today.

Their enough is never enough money attitude reminds me of a scene from that musical, The Fiddler on the Roof. It showed a merchant dropping a single kopek into the tin cup of a beggar, who then asked, ”Why only one?” “Because I had a bad week,” he answered. To which the beggar responded, “Why should I suffer for your bad week?”

Now, I readily admit it’s hard for me to relate or be objective to modern-day education, given that I was a product of the so-called “production-mills” public schools where as long as you could read fairly well, albeit skipping over the long words, and could write words that could be discerned without using a magnifying glass, you were a cinch to get a diploma.

However, in all fairness to the schools back then, they taught love of country and history and civics classes, which are sorely lacking in school curriculums these days, what with any number of high school graduates unable to name their representatives in Congress, or that of even one U.S. Supreme Court justice.

But perhaps my strongest criticism was with their lack of proficiency in such important subjects as math and science, which is absolutely essential, to be able to compete successfully in the world economy.

Nothing illustrates their deficiencies in math and science more than the U.S. being ranked, each year, in the low or mid-twenties among all other industrialized nations, based on the test scores of students at the same grade level.

And just think, that’s the return we get by giving the lion’s s share of the county’s total budget to education, and paying 91 administrators in our schools and central office an annual salary of a $100,000 or more. Says it all in a nutshell, doesn’t it? And as that phrase known in China and Europe in the Middle Ages goes: “The fish rots from the top down.”

Here’s some food for thought you should find easy to digest, a baker’s dozen of views on education by worldly-wise, learned figures:

  • “Nothing in education is so astonishing as the amount of ignorance it accumulates in the form of inert facts.”  (Henry Adams)
  • “The things taught in colleges and schools are not an education, but the means of education.”‘  (Emerson)
  • ”Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self-confidence.”  (Robert Frost) 
  • “They teach in academies too many things and far too much that is useless.” (Goethe)
  • “In the first place God made idiots-this was for practice-then he made school boards.”  (Mark Twain)
  • ‘A single conversation across the table with a wise man is better than years mere study of books.’  (Longfellow)
  • “School days, I believe, are the unhappiest in the whole span of human existence, full as they are of dull, unintelligible tasks,,  and brutal violations of common sense and common decency.”  (H.L. Mencken)
  • “Educational progress is a national concern; education is a private one.”  (Nikki Giovanni)
  • “The important thing in the education experience itself-how to survive it.”  (Donald Barththelme)
  • “Knowledge that is acquired by compulsion obtains no hold on the mind.”  (Plato)
  • “Knowledge has outstripped character development, and the young today are given an education rather than an upbringing.”  (Liya Ehrenburg)
  • “What we do not call education is more precious than that we call so.”  (Emerson)

Quote of the week: “The only thing of which I’m certain in my ignorance.”  (Socrates)

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Mark Eastman May 30, 2012 at 01:00 PM
Mr. Grand, You may call yourself an old curmudgeon, but a little middle of the road common sense is never a bad thing. Keep up the good work!
Buck May 31, 2012 at 06:16 PM
Your 7th grade writing style may be your strongest argument
Buck Harmon June 01, 2012 at 01:35 PM
Well done Mr. Grand...
David A. Grand June 02, 2012 at 04:12 PM
Thanks for the compliment, Buck.

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