Recently some students in Wellington skipped school and marched demanding government action on climate change. Photographs of the event unsurprisingly featured crowds of mostly young women with that look. You know, that wide-eyed earnest but naive and slightly unhinged do-gooder look which makes even the most die-hard egalitarian sometimes wish we didn’t have universal suffrage! Our education system is producing arrogant ignorance.
The zealous sweethearts attending the march exude condescension. One of the signs read “We’re giving up lessons to teach you one.” You didn’t know you needed a teenage girl to teach you, did you? Another girl confidently insisted we need more climate change education in schools and expounded, “We only have a limited amount of time left before the effects of climate change become irreversible…” I guess one could agree with her on the requirement of more education on climate change, but our meaning is no doubt diametrically opposed.
Arrogance is the end result of an education system that is child-centred and that rejects rigour and depth of knowledge. Our approach to education teaches children that they know what is best and they are at the centre of the learning process. We’ve attracted teachers who see themselves as facilitators of learning rather than experts who want to pass on civilisational riches to the next generation. The long term consequences? Ignorant children who hector and bully adults despite being more ignorant and poorly educated than previous generations.
Unlike these poor dears who have only been toilet trained for just over a decade, those of us who are educated and have been around a little while know that confident ‘scientific’ predictions are often total bosh. Take Paul Ehrlich. In 1970 he said, “Population will inevitably and completely outstrip whatever small increases in food supplies we make. The death rate will increase until at least 100-200 million people per year will be starving to death during the next ten years.”
Or what about Life which ran an article in 1970 saying, “Scientists have solid experimental and theoretical evidence to support…the following predictions: In a decade, urban dwellers will have to wear gas masks to survive air pollution…by 1985 air pollution will have reduced the amount of sunlight reaching earth by one half….” So spare us the doomsday predictions. We’ve heard it all before.
We don’t need to be lectured by kids who know next to nothing about anything. What we need is education that provides children with a depth of knowledge. We need an education system that provides rigour and challenge. We need an education system that teaches children humility – one that demonstrates to them how little they do know and how often the ‘wise’ have acted like fools. We need an education system that is not thinly veiled political propaganda.
Instead, our largely female teaching body and our feminine dominated approach to education have reduced our education system to feel-good slogans and used naive, anxious and emotionally-driven children as pawns in political activism.
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