L. Neil Smith's
Number 390, October 22, 2006

"Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, baked beans and Spam."


When Dumber is Better
by Scott Kauzlarich

Special to The Libertarian Enterprise

Well, here we go again. Another round of elections is upon us and that means the obligatory batch of idiotic campaign commercials. Attack ads are okay, I enjoy the mud-slinging. Unfortunately, we are still subjected to far too many of the positive (and even less truthful) ads. I especially hate the "I have a passion for education" spots. It seems politicians never tire of telling us how important our children are to them.

I think all these spots give the public the wrong idea about our schools. Namely, that they are vitally important. This is the idea most people have—the children are everything, schools are everything, nothing is too good for either. In reality, the government school system isn't worth all the attention.

An education is a natural thing, and it can be a good thing. But it isn't automatically a good thing. I had a colleague in my hall that prominently displayed a framed picture of Karl Marx and covered one wall of his office with artifacts from the Soviet Union. Some of the things he told students made my ears bleed. Is this what the politicians are talking about when they say world-class teachers insure a strong future for the country?

In fact, if the fate of the Republic is at stake, maybe we'd be better off with no schools at all. It's far better to have no formal schools than to have them teaching all the wrong things. One mistake made in educating young teachers is that all the focus is on the "how" of teaching and not enough emphasis is put on the "what" of teaching. By not delving deep enough into their subject areas, young teachers don't have enough opportunities to encounter alternatives to the leftist ideology that currently dominates their general education.

Don't get me wrong—young children need a complete set of intellectual tools. However, after mastering basics such as reading and writing, formal education turns into an indoctrination process. Therefore, whether or not an education is valuable depends entirely on what the students are being indoctrinated in. Too many people simply assume that any education will eventually pay dividends. That just isn't true. An education heavy on Marxism and Keynesian economics will not pay off for society. In cases such as these, dumber is better; less is more.

And there, finally, is the silver lining in our current crop of state schools, renowned for their lukewarm results. By underperforming in several key areas, the education system does not efficiently indoctrinate our nation's youth. This is why you won't catch me fretting over the state of America's education program.

In the name of logic, should anyone care if the schools don't deliver an 8th grade education until students are graduating? Let's imagine that the schools suddenly became models of effective teaching. What, precisely, would they be more successful at doing? Weighing down youngsters with the kind of "progressive" education that sinks civilization, that's what.

People are prone to thinking that if kids don't get a formal schooling the "other side" will win. But that is only true if the alternative to this kind of education is ignorance, which it is not. The outside world offers many valuable lessons and is also more consistent with nature. This is why we call it the "real world." In this world, cooperation proves superior to coercion and freedom is more productive than planning. If it were any other way, who among us would be on the side of liberty?

We can rely on man's natural intelligence and instinct for self-advancement to insure that both young and old alike continue to learn throughout their lives. We should not fear an "uneducated" populace; to a certain degree, it is a step in the right direction. Our highly structured schools, on the other hand, provide the setting in which minds can be polluted and all sorts of socialism manufactured. Children tend to reject a lot of that, especially as they age and stop trying so hard to please the adults and authority figures in their lives. Their nature is oriented towards autonomy, self-expression, and property rights. We have that going for us.

So let them tune out. Until schools start giving a proper education it might be the best that we can hope for.

Scott Kauzlarich is a professor of Social Science at Ellsworth College in Iowa Falls, Iowa. He can be contacted at Scott.Kauzlarich@iavalley.edu


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