Rebecca Elliott answers the question: Is the American education system “healthy”?
Rebecca Elliott, MPH
Lesson 8: Is American Education Healthy? Revisited
It is time to answer our original question…
Welcome back. Last week, we talked about the economics of education, and how it actually may be beneficial for the system at large to prioritize building ignorant, obedient workers, rather than curious, competent students. At the start of this blog, we sought to understand the “health” of American education, and throughout the past 8 weeks, we have unpacked a host of issues surrounding American education, from its physical structure, to its disciplinary tactics, to its curriculum. Now that we have this information, it is important to answer the question that started it all: Is American education healthy? And if not, why?
Is American Education “Healthy”?
For the sake of our argument, let’s use the WHO definition of health. According to the World Health Organization, “health” is defined as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” While this definition was designed to fit people, I think there is enough here to fit institutions as well. Let’s take the first criteria: physical health. In our second blog, we explored the physical structure of the typical American public school: colorless walls, cracked tiles, leaky roofs, and long, windowless, hallways. The classrooms are overcrowded, and the lunchroom and hallways are armed with cameras, and police, simply waiting to be introduced to the next generation of convicts. By their very design, schools do not provide an environment that is conducive to the physical health of students; remember, the architects of public schools also designed American prisons, a place notorious for both physically and psychologically damaging the health of human beings. Schools, like prisons, are designed to feel ridged, suffocating, and punitive. We don’t want students learning, we want them in line.
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