We all sure have suffered in the hands of the "latest educational fads." Forty years ago, children would fail one subject and consequently had to repeat the whole year again. Sometimes, they would fail for missing as little as .25 points on a final exam.
Dedication, hard work, good participation in class, a positive attitude...nothing would count towards making the grade. They were considered failures, not of the system, but individual failures; it was their fault that they didn't make it.
I have a friend who is a sad example of this system. When he was in 5th grade, he failed Latin for, perhaps, half a point. He needed to repeat the entire year because of Latin, only, the discipline Latin was removed from the roll and was no longer part of the system.
In other words, he was held back for something that didn't exist any longer. How tragic is this? And worst, how did that make him feel?
Later on, the system determined that children were not supposed to be "punished" in such way. In came the theory that recuperation was a better approach to dealing with those who couldn't pass the class.
They would study during vacations to make up for lost work. Then they could go on, provided they made the grade. In my opinion this is a far better way to evaluate the students. And fairer too.
But the system kept moving forward until we arrived at today's democratic education, for lack of a better term. This system, though gentler to the student's self-esteem, is another disaster, for now, we have happier students who get into college without the ability to read and write.
Too many college students are in the "7th grade bracket." Now, when we think that these are the people controlling every single aspect of our lives in the near future, one wonders how we will ever survive the flood of semi-literate people leading our country.
The trouble is now that we have two extremes. If, on one hand we have competent people who have suffered because they were called "impaired," "dumb," "idiotic" and "slow" to say the least, we also have extra inflated egos who can barely write their own names.
So, what are we to do? How can we solve this paradox, and, not only prepare our students for a great and realistic world, but also to do so in a way that each one will have his place and be happy for it?
The educational system has failed us, the aggravation being that we think that everyone should go to college. I disagree; college education, for example, is not for everyone.
In today's society, only 25% of college graduates work on their chosen field. So, why waste resources, personal and governmental, in pursuing an education that will be useless from an occupational standpoint?
My point is that, as with every society in the world, ancient or modern, literate or illiterate, there is a place for everyone. Even in Brave New World the expression "to each, his own" applies. This means that, in the same way that we are not all made to be lawyers, politicians or artists, we are not all made to be janitors, mechanics, or truck drivers.
In a truly democratic society, where education inspires the individual to do his best in whatever occupation he or she chooses, everyone is a winner, because everyone is truly happy.