After the past 12 months it should be clear to many more people than it was before that the US education system is a failure. It has produced unthinking, uncritical people. Many of whom, argues @ch__tz, "have survived regurgitating what sounds nice, because they've never really had the opportunity to evaluate an argument by more than tone and meter, pedantic rote memorization, etc. An entire generation of people stuck at the bottom of Bloom's Taxonomy."
More than ever people are beginning to take the education of their children into their own hands. And while there will never truly be a one-size-fits-all curriculum, history shows that a people with a common foundation are resilient in the face of hardships of all kinds. Our near future holds nothing but hardships. In America today we see the consequences of letting that foundation crumble.
Yet we cannot return to the simple fairy tales of the past. Instead we must truthfully analyze our story and put it into context, both past and present. But our past story must only be one small part of our foundation. The past is unchangeable. We can only learn the lessons an honest accounting of history can provide and move forward into the future applying those lessons as best we can.
So we must then decide what kind of American do we need to be creating in 2021? The most important act of any generation is what it does to prepare the next to inherit the world, so this is no small task. Bits and pieces of the final product lie scattered around, both online and in minds (the offline kind). Let this serve as a collection point, a meeting place, a crossroads for those bits and pieces to coalesce into one unified whole.
It is not necessary or advisable to attempt to create experts in every subject. Instead the goal should be to produce an informed, well-rounded individual capable of interrogating the claims of a wide variety of disciplines in a meaningful manner. What we cannot allow is certain realms of knowledge to be made inaccessible to the general public, preventing much needed transparency and oversight.
It is important that the next generation be capable of coexisting with others and the natural world in a way that diminishes neither's freedoms and ability to do so themselves.
There will always be physical challenges to be faced, whether from nefarious individuals or groups, wild animals, or hostile environments. We are also currently experiencing an obesity epidemic among our youth (as well as many other generations). Starting the next generation off on a path of physical capability will enable them to live healthful lives. Healthy citizens build strong communities.
While physical prowess can help prevent many forms of physical coercion and domination, it is often powerless in the face of mental and intellectual manipulation. We cannot create strong bodies controlled by weak minds. Our youth must be trained to critically examine their world and the arguments and beliefs it is made of.
From everyday science to the cutting edge, the next generation must be capable of engaging with science in a confident and informed way. Isaac Asimov claimed, "...an uninformed public tends to confuse scholarship with magicians..." Such a condition leaves people vulnerable to charlatans and grifters, whether they be journalists poorly conveying the results of scientific studies or a modern-day snake-oil salesman offering you miracle cures. Protection against these hucksters is of paramount importance for our future.
Our modern world is built by engineers. For far too long has the realm been neglected in the youth. Its various disciplines offer a variety of hands-on, practical projects capable of being engaged with by all ages. Providing the next generation with the foundations to excel in this realm will lead to a flourishing of creativity and innovation in our communities.
Mathematics: The realm of knowledge everyone's allowed to hate and be proud of not knowing. Yet it is one of the most useful of the knowledge disciplines and a confident grasp is necessary for engaging with many others. One realm in particular, Statistics, is used to mislead and misdirect those not well-versed. For this reason alone the study of Mathematics is key to preparing the next generation.
The ability to create worlds out of nothing, the ability to tell someone else's story, the ability to inform, argue, and analyze are more important than ever in our increasingly text- & image-based world.The youth must become confident with these forms of communication.
Art has always had the ability to inspire, to awaken, to convey messages and meaning in ways the written or spoken word simply cannot. Developing a variety of forms of creativity from an early age will help mold the minds necessary for engaging with & interpreting both the problems of the present and the future.
Knowing how we got here is important. A lack of this knowledge can be used against you. While the position we find ourselves in currently is far from perfect, there are many hard lessons we have learned from and moved past already. It is important that we do not let historical ignorance cause us to repeat costly mistakes. Through shared knowledge we can also come to better know and understand our neighbors, both near and far.
This is obviously far from complete. I encourage you to join in, no contribution is too small, no tweak too minor. Everything massive in this world started small. Never forget this.