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Week of: March 4, 2001

Musings On The Purpose of Education

by F.R. Duplantier

Are schools failing to educate our children, or are they succeeding in teaching them the wrong things?

Nearly thirty years ago, my father related to me a conversation he had had with the dean of admissions at the university where he worked. The dean had proclaimed that the purpose of college is to keep young people out of the workforce as long as possible not only to fill the university's coffers, but to restrict the supply of labor and drive up wages. My father was as egalitarian a man as ever lived; he believed that anyone qualified to attend college should be encouraged to do so (for the educational benefits, not the alleged economic return). But he also recognized the cruelty of the cynical campaign -- just then beginning -- to convince the general population that a college education is an absolute necessity. He saw it as a shameless fraud, and so it is.

There's no question that colleges today are filled with young people who would be better off elsewhere, whether working or pursuing some sort of training. Nor can it be denied that countless thousands of public school students would benefit from vo-tech programs that emphasize basic job skills such as showing up on time, in proper attire, with at least the semblance of enthusiasm. It is absurd to perpetuate the myth of the indispensability of a college education. And yes, parents and their offspring should give more consideration to their career prospects. But no clique of politicians, bureaucrats, businessmen, and academics has the right to dictate our children's futures. We need less government interference in our schools, our economy, and our lives -- not more.

The problem with American citizens is that we're too complacent. Otherwise, we would demand an immediate end to government-funded propaganda programs in the schools. If we ourselves would never submit voluntarily to such obvious brainwashing, why, then, do we willingly subject our children to it? We should demand that the schools teach our children the truth: that our present federal government is a travesty of the original; that there is no constitutional justification for ninety percent of the activities it engages in; that income tax rates, as a consequence, are ten times higher than they would otherwise be; and that the direct income tax itself is illegitimate. The schools should also acknowledge that the average instructor is on the job for only three-quarters of a normal work day for only two-thirds of a normal work year -- and thus is not underpaid, but overpaid. And that's assuming that he's doing a competent job.

Talented individuals and strong homes are the very foundation of a free society. Why would anyone want to stifle the potential of individual Americans and suppress the salutary influence of the family? Why would anyone want to undermine the foundation of a free society? No one would -- unless he sought to establish a different sort of society altogether, a society in which a small elite could live at the expense of an oppressed multitude. But no free people would ever voluntarily submit to such degradation. No, they never would -- unless their children were secretly instructed in the mentality of servitude.


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