It’s easy to daydream about the goals of a future society, but I think the only way we can accomplish those goals is through education and discussion. Part of that education is unlearning.
When I think of my own male education, I can’t help but think of the misery I went through in both middle and high school. I made a comic about it in college that I hope to rewrite one day.
Frankly this subject is near and dear to me, and I could go on for pages and pages about all the things wrong with our educational system. So here are the top 10 things I would change about education if I had omnipotent powers:
1) More art – Not just teaching skill/craft but imparting that art is empowerment, both politically and emotionally. Art therapy is real, and it’s something each of us can do for ourselves in private.
2) Relevant history – Right now we teach White history, and then wonder why students of color struggle in school. A real education in history would be broken down to include men, women, and queer people, and would stress the value and richness from every culture that played a role in the world.
3) Abolish standardized testing – Students and teachers alike feel strangled by these tests. In high school I learned to pass tests. I can’t recite any of this once memorized information because I learned that once the test was taken it was irrelevant. The anxiety/depression I went through because of these tests created a resentment in me that I carry to this day. If I had a time machine, I’d go back and spit in Alfred Binet’s face.
4) Democratize the bureaucracy – To name one issue, so much of education spending is wasted on sports, pointless renovations, or even rat nests. Creating a council of administrators, parents, alumni, and current students and putting issues to a vote would insure checks and balances within the system and protect schools from ineptitude, while at the same time empowering students/families.
5) More science – Science literacy is crucial for the survival of our species. Period. I’m not talking about an army of solemn 13 year olds in lab coats. I’m talking about people who can think differently and get excited about future possibilities of our collective genius.
6) Make teaching a dream job – Pay teachers more, reward good results, and stop protecting ineffective/abusive employees (who might be brought before aforementioned council for hearings). I’ve know amazing people who won’t become teachers because it’s not worth it.
7) End bullying – I was bullied, and I have been a bully. It happens because people–teachers, principals, and parents alike–simply look the other way. Schools should enforce laws like anywhere else, which should include a high moral standard of how people are treated. Bullies should not be punished, they should be educated, understood, helped.
8) Reconstruct timetables – Don’t promote a good night’s sleep, ensure it. High school classes should start around 10:00, not 8:00, with periods of rest through out the day. Days should be structured like college courses so that students don’t have to balance every subject every day.
9) Serve actual food – Every time someone mentions starving children in other countries I ask, “What about the starving kids in America?” We have families that depend on school meal programs, but said meals are chock full of sugar and preservatives, resulting in increasingly unhealthy students. Creating farms meant exclusively for schools would create jobs and provide much needed nutrition for students.
10) Health class replaces gym class – I think I’ve had to take a grand total of two semesters of health class for my entire 17 years of education. How does that make sense? Health class would expand to not only cover safe sex but physical fitness and mental wellness as well. It would provide tools for students to seek out healthy relationships and recognize the importance of self-worth.
I may be thwarting my list, but lastly, a good “male education” is one that includes all genders and every variety of gendered (or non-gendered) expression. The reason men develop massive egos and masculine emotional barriers is precisely because they are robbed of their femininity/sensitivity the moment they are taught that boys are different from girls. A proper male education would celebrate masculinity as much as it celebrates femininity. Gender is simply a societal construct, and that’s something every child should recognize.
It’s easy to daydream about the goals of a future society, but I think the only way we can accomplish those goals is through education and discussion. Part of that education is unlearning. We have to unlearn things like racism, sexism, heterosexism, etc. in order to move forward. The Internet can provide us with a lot of that (i.e. online lectures), but ideally a moderated discussion within local communities would be better. If our schools won’t teach certain lessons, then perhaps outside workshops can. At the very least, more people should be informed on what programs/tools are available to expand on their education.
As for the benefits to young men; they will benefit miraculously the day we stop dumping the views of archaic societies on their shoulders. Even as children there are clear lines drawn in the sand dividing boys from girls, blacks from whites, Catholics from Muslims, etc. By the time we’re teenagers, those lines are brick walls and we find ourselves moving in circles within these societal prisons. The dawn of a new era will occur only after we begin teaching all children that the walls that divide us are the ones we create for ourselves.