A couple of months ago, I was speaking with a man who teaches computer programming part-time at a university in the Midwestern United States. At some point in the conversation, he asked me what I thought the biggest problems facing the USA were. Knowing that we both had shared interests in science and philosophy (two vast and fascinating subjects with, as I have previously written, a lot of overlap), I wanted to give him a solid answer.
After a moment’s consideration, I told him that I thought there were two upper echelon issues, from which stemmed—to varying degrees—all of America’s other problems: the first, I said, is our unequal, low-quality (and so perpetually self-diminishing) education system, and the second is corruption among powerful public and private members of society. He quipped that I had really presented just one issue, as the latter is a product of the former, and the lack of consistent, high-quality education for every citizen is then the only candidate for the top spot.
I am not particularly sure that I can agree with him, as I find it entirely possible that intelligent and well-educated people can still exercise power corruptly in the absence of proper transparency and regulation. But the notion that many of the commonly noted big issues in any given country can be traced back to some manner of inadequacy in that country’s education is a point of definite agreement between us.
Traditionally Progressive Education: