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Teaching America

To be regarded as good as those that have come before, one must be better than what we have seen. Last year's post, America is dead, was commenting on the state of affairs in this country. This year's "state of the union" address is going to be about how to move forward, where we go from here. In my own life, in order to move forward and stay on course, I always return to essence and origin. Questions like "how did I get here" and "why am I here", ultimately lead to "where do I go now?" So, how did this country get to where we are...

Well, to be frank, we've headed in this direction for quite sometime and its not a result of recent events. It is within the human condition to control our environments; businessmen sought out to control their environment and also, their capital gains--after all it is a capitalistic society. We wanted a smaller government and in that exchange, the government chose not to regulate health care, establish education and provide leadership. Communist and socialist societies were the first to establish universal health care, it does not allow for a doctor to make more money from his craft than another doctor, but it is overseen by a group or faction. Comparatively, a drug company can't charge more for a "better" drug but the government sets a higher standard to the drugs produced. Whether its good or bad, our the health care is regulated (in some small form) by the government. Here, in our democracy, they are regulated by the FDA, FCC and other such associations. But the problem with this system is, it asks for the absolute bare minimum. Don't kill the patient (or rather... client or consumer), and every other side effect is okay. "Above minimum", for drugs, is a bit scary to think about; but further more, for lawyers, educators and doctors its even more terrifying. For context, the lawyer you're paying to represent you in a case against your former doctor (who wanted just enough on his MCATs to get into Med School) for malpractice received a score high enough to pass the BAR exam. Like the majority of professionals in this country, they were looking to get enough to average standardized tests and achieve passing grades. What those mediocre teachers did not tell you in school, if you are better than everyone else you'll be heavily rewarded. Our education system does not reflect this, we're given grades and anything above an "E" is passing. This bare minimum system has shaped the way we (meaning together, whole, more than one) are.

So why get an A? This lesson is not taught until you plan on going to college, and not as severely as the rest of the world. If that's your course of action, then your performance matters enough to drive you criminally insane. [History Lesson/Sidebar: Hilter didn't have the "grades" to get into Art school and look how well he turned out.] "Oh, you want to get into the best schools, GREAT! How's your GPA? SAT? ACT?" So now, at the average age of 14, you're encouraged to change the way you've gone through academics your entire life, now you've got to motivate yourself to be the best--on your own. That's great and all, but a little too late. I mean, you've never had to do that before; and when you were the best, did you get anything for it? Not likely. The system is designed to separate those that can motivate themselves from those that cannot (the great American lesson), instead of motivating every student individually. What ever happened to encouraging students to do what they wanted to do? So what do you get, a high school diploma that says "you received (at least) the bare minimum? Thanks, but no thanks. The education system should encourage finding your passion and feeding that fire, instead of making you into a mark on a state score sheet.

To their credit, universities do have a personal statement portion of their application. That saves them, somewhat, from having to deal with hordes of bare minimum prospects (but then again, a focused two weeks could pump out a pretty good/coherent pile of bullshit if I really put my efforts to it.) The problem is, this is the first time we're asked what we want to do, academically. That's why the personal statement becomes the most difficult part of the entry, instead of the easiest.

"Wait, what do you mean? What do I want to do?"

So you see our mediocrity, as a nation, is a result of our education system. This may sound a bit communist, or socialist, but Russia is still expanding their transit system and building more public spaces. And the Japanese, well, they're driving their universally health-cared ass in 70+ mpg vehicles. Other than flying to the moon and being a "backward" country, do you know what else they have in common? A government that will pay students for going to school... if you can get into the university.

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