Is There Still a Crisis in Education?
By Tyler Bonin
A quick glance at today’s headlines illustrates that the current moment is not absent of the political and economic difficulties which have afflicted past generations. We have not progressed past such things as war, famine, or oppression. These events still exist, as they have for generations, despite the technological and scientific advancements that define this era. The consequences of education are thus naturally much greater than assigning a basic level of numeracy and literacy to a student, and pushing them out into the world to seek employment. Education must lead a student to embrace their humanity and develop his or her intellect to not only navigate the world, but to understand deeply the moral quandaries they will face, many of which are of the same manner and scope faced by previous generations. Assigning primacy to only vocational considerations thus neglects the sheer importance of giving students the tools to become self-reliant and discerning of the institutions that preserve dignity and individual liberty.
Thus, it seems that in reaffirming the notion that a crisis in education exists today, one must also attempt to reassess what perpetuates it. All of the benefits of a truly humane education are lost when tests such as the SAT and ACT reinforce a model of education measured along strictly utilitarian terms. This is not to suggest that testing is undesirable. However, if entire systems of education are to be supported and evaluated by a test, then the test should move deeper, using the texts that have underpinned pivotal intellectual and social movements. Unfortunately, these texts are too often (ironically) deemed inessential in modern education, yet are actually indispensable for understanding the modern world. One cannot read John Locke or Karl Marx and deny their profound effect on shaping societies, while remaining central to the ongoing debate on the role of the state today. Yet, they are too often treated as an afterthought.
The Classic Learning Test provides an important metric for learning, but does so by embracing the fundamental principle that education is a humane endeavor. Its standard in testing is underpinned by the thinkers and writers whose intellectual impact is crucial for developing a robust knowledge of the world. Promoting this intellectual heritage for posterity must be central to the ends of education. The CLT assesses what truly matters, and thus stands well-poised to remedy the crisis of purpose in education today.
Tyler Bonin holds degrees from Duke University and Campbell University, and he is a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps. CLT is excited to welcome him as our newest team member.
If you liked this piece, you may also enjoy our series on “the Great Conversation,” discussing the history of ideas from angels to oligarchy. Or take a look at an essay from one of our top students on the poetry of Edmund Spenser.