The Key to Education Reform

A lack of good ideas and direction caused me to repeatedly forsake the creation of this article, but a persevering determination kept it alive through long hours spent searching for the single salient problem plaguing American education. I came upon the rather anticlimactic answer late one night long after I should have turned the lights out and gone to bed in the most unlikely of places, the one unending source of potential solutions I habitually disregard: myself.

The key to effective education, I came to realize, is not a new system or methodology, though I do believe — as John Roderick said in episode eighteen of Roderick on the Line — this educational construct designed for twenty million people is long overdue for reconsideration in light of the three hundred million individuals we expect it to educate today. While such an approach would likely solve a portion of the problem or maybe even the entire issue, a multi-billion dollar infusion would also have a positive effect on education in America, and require much less effort. Both approaches achieve the desired result without actually addressing the root issue though, and for that reason they should not be championed as the solution to all our problems as the so unfortunately often are. The key to effective education is inspiration at a very young age, and sustained inspiration throughout a child’s formative years. After all, you can only do so much to make a person proficient in any given area faced with the absence of genuine interest. Just as you can lead a horse to water but cannot make it drink, we can give children the opportunity to learn, but cannot — with good results — actually make them learn the material, as evidenced by the state of education in America today.

Some might go so far as to say that given such a viewpoint, we should leave children to their own devices instead of forcing them to learn certain skills and acquire a certain knowledge base. If their proficiency in those areas is wholly dependent on their level of interest, what’s the point? To come back to the horse analogy, if you do not lead the horse to water it will die of thirst; if we do not prompt children to learn — if we do not lead them to the water, so to speak — well, we the results might just be the same.