If not, what should we do about it?
All over the place, from the Declaration of Independence on down, it says that we are born equal and should be treated as such to make the world a fair place.
BUT we are NOT all born equal.
Some of us are women and some men. We have come a long way to take care of that problem but are not all the way there. Our skin comes in a variety of hues and the non-white versions still struggle for basic equality.
Not all of us have 2 arms and legs, some of us are fat and others thin, some of us have an odd number of fingers and toes, some of us itch a lot and others do not.
Some of us are curious and many are not. Some of us are quick and others slow. Some of us have a sense of humor and others none.
In theory, it shouldn’t matter – after all, we’re all born equal. In reality, however, it matters a lot.
It matters because we should be coordinating the strength in all those differences into a glue that unites us.
Instead, we seem to use those differences to divide ourselves into factions, frequently at odds with one another and most assuredly NOT looking for common ground.
The problems begin very soon after birth.
Children –babies –all look very much the same. But that does not last long.
When those babies are old enough to begin school, they are generally treated all the same way—as if they were in fact equal – at least in the early years. By middle school, though, students encounter an education system that espouses a binary division – those destined for college and those not, with the former strongly favored in the educational system.
In the last 50 years, the number of college graduates has increased by about 50 percent. But this emphasis on a college degree as the favored way to secure society’s approval compounds the differences of and damages to those who do not ‘get’ what school is all about in their lives.
It also ill-serves the country’s economic engine, cranking out degree-wielding students who have learned not to value the economic contributions of those without college degrees, yet still leaving companies without the highly-skilled (if not formally educated) workers needed to keep things humming.
If the school systems could sort kids in a more nuanced manner, considering inclination, interests, temperament and it might be possible for their teachers to treat them as they are –not as identical building blocks—they all might have a better chance to develop into their full and unique potential.
The tools to do this actually have existed for a long time, but long-standing doctrine has insisted that ALL should be treated the same way because they are equal.
I am not sure how this can/should happen BUT it makes clear common sense to me that we must adapt our systems for the benefit of ALL our young people.
Trying to squeeze a one size fits all shoe onto millions of different feet may be one of the biggest educational mistakes in the past 100 years.
It should never be too late to wake up.
We have to help kids who hate school, and learning, to find their own appropriate ways forward with their very unequal bodies and lives.
We might just unlock powerful new forces in the world!