Last fall, we walked downtown to drop off my daughter’s paperwork to officially begin homeschooling. It felt strange walking into the Department of Education to say, “No, thanks,” but I suppose that was all in my head. The lady at the desk was quite nice.
On the way back to the car, I noticed an interesting quote at the bus stop:
Upon the subject of education, not presuming to dictate any plan or system respecting it, I can only say that I view it as the most important subject which we as a people can be engaged in. –Abraham Lincoln, 1832
I couldn’t agree more. It is the most important subject for the American people to be engaged in. And the state has no business dictating any plan or system. If you continue in that same speech…even in the same paragraph…the thoughts are even more relevant.
Upon the subject of education, not presuming to dictate any plan or system respecting it, I can only say that I view it as the most important subject which we as a people can be engaged in. That every man may receive at least, a moderate education, and thereby be enabled to read the histories of his own and other countries, by which he may duly appreciate the value of our free institutions, appears to be an object of vital importance, even on this account alone, to say nothing of the advantages and satisfaction to be derived from all being able to read the scriptures and other works, both of a religious and moral nature, for themselves. For my part, I desire to see the time when education, and by its means, morality, sobriety, enterprise and industry, shall become much more general than at present, and should be gratified to have it in my power to contribute something to the advancement of any measure which might have a tendency to accelerate the happy period.
Now we have the system in place with wide scale “education” of the population, but it has hardly lead to morality, sobriety, enterprise and industry. In fact, it has lead to quite the opposite. Morality does not come from “sex-ed,” and the pervasive undercurrent of moral relativism throughout the curriculum. Sobriety? All partying aside, I don’t think the current trend of “edutainment” lends itself well to “sobriety.” I don’t see how we can encourage enterprise through multiple choice questions. Finally, with all the emphasis on standards and accountability, we also have a growing concern for the “esteem” of the child. That in and of itself is not bad, but disallowing games that have a loser? Replacing grades with number or shape notation that no one can decipher? Praising mediocrity while stifling excellence?
Of course, perhaps that comes from the dissolution of the purposes Mr. Lincoln outlined just before that. Our children no longer have the resources to enjoy the histories of our country and of other nations, they are not taught the value of our free institutions, and certainly are not encouraged to read the scriptures nor other books of moral value.
But we do still have part of a quote from a good speech engraved at a bus stop. It is nice to occasionally discover remains from a former age. Is there yet enough life left in them, not to restore this nation to what it was, but to recapture the vision in order to become all that it can?
It is to the conversation regarding this “most important subject” of education to which I submit this blog.