A rebuttal to this woman’s view on the purpose of school

I recently read this on my facebook feed: http://momastery.com/blog/2014/01/30/share-schools/ . In this article the author shares her experience of not understanding grade school math and then getting her son’s teacher to tutor her (for free, I assume). In there she openly and completely dismisses the importance of reading and writing, and instead state that teachers’ primary role is to teach children to be “brave and kind”.

What a load of rubbish.

Whose job is to teach children to be brave and kind? Parents.

The real purpose of teachers is to ensure that their students don’t end up with the same abject ignorance and lack of basic skills as their parents. Hopefully this woman’s son would not go back to his child’s grade five teacher professing not knowing how to do the math at that level. The true purpose of a teacher is to teach genuine knowledge to children. The reason why public education exists is to teach children things that their parents cannot. In this case, “brave and kind” is likely something this mother can teach, but basic arithmetic is not.

This is a subtle and vicious attack on the role of teachers. This is akin to the anti-vaccination movement, where ignorant parents are dismissing the hard work of people with more knowledge than them and causing a global pandemic. I don’t know how anyone can dismiss the notion that genuine knowledge is ‘useless’ or inherently not valuable. Nothing can be further than the truth.

It is ludicrous to suggest that this teacher’s actions, trying to ‘mine’ for lonely children, is somehow preventing a massacre. Chances are whatever this teacher did, it neither prevented nor affected any massacres because those are exceptionally rare. Even if she taught thousands of students, likely none of those students will end up a killer, regardless of whether she was their teacher or not. This irrational and utterly illogical anecdote, designed to appeal to our emotions, is poison to the role of education. An education does not make someone well-adjusted or know how to have proper human emotions: that is the job of parents. To shift even more parental responsibility to teachers is maddening.

People should insist that their teachers do a good job teaching their children proper knowledge. Just because you, as a parent and an adult, lacks basic math skills and somehow is ‘proud’ of that fact (maybe it’s like somehow I am ‘proud’ that I don’t know anything about hockey or football?), doesn’t mean you should inflict the same curse of ignorance on your children. Emphasize the importance of math and reading; the future of our civilization depends on it.


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