“Mainstream education doesn’t challenge students to become critical thinkers. We have to move beyond old forms in order to produce a better system overall. Current policies come mainly from folks who don’t do the job.”—Colin Neufeld
What does the current education system offer individual students? Does it empower them to be agents of choice in their own direction? Does it equip them to master reason, whereby they can understand, enjoy and decisively affect themselves and their world? What does every graduating class provide for society? What is the personal experience of children and youth as they make their way through this compulsory system that standardises and quantifies their every effort and expression? What are their prospects once they graduate?
The typical experience in mainstream schools is the opposite of empowerment. It teaches young people that their value lies in a score on a test, and in their ability to conform in myriad circumstances to external standards. As John Taylor Gatto has pointed out, school teaches too many children to hate learning, and to hate themselves for not measuring up.
Instead of an energetic society that welcomes its new citizens to improve it, we have dumbed-down junk culture that subsumes more and more predictable, willing consumerist slaves to labor within the parameters set by the democratic capitalist system that treats them as literal fodder. In fact, the current educational model is based upon and geared towards this economic slavery.
No more bells yanking brilliant, young humans from their revelations and innovative projects, in order to shuffle them into some sterile, formulaically devised scope and sequence, whose sessions were conjured with no regard whatsoever for the particular life of the young people being subjected to them. No more arbitrary evaluations that pit student against student, degrading their worth. No more shackling teachers who are already naturals at reading their students’ needs and nourishing them. No more master-slave paradigm, defining relationships in classrooms and schools.
Children must be afforded a learning environment wherein they can easily perceive how bright and beautiful they are, and how rich their world is. They must be encouraged to discover how they can most aptly gain from and impact their community. A childhood of choice and voice, and access to abundant resources of the richest quality, will immunise young people against the hegemony that currently excludes all—except the children of the entrenched elite—from Optimised Education, the bedrock of a Meritocratic Democracy, and from the choicest opportunities after degree conferral.
All aspects of the new, Meritocratic education system must revolve around one mandate: Equal Opportunity for Every Child. Optimised Education, as embodied in Meritocratic Democracy, recognises that every child deserves all the best available resources in order to make the most of his abilities. All children need to learn how to compute, reason, read, and write, but from there the Meritocratic school curriculum differentiates according to the needs and drive of each student. The culmination of an education in Meritocratic Democracy is autonomy, and expertise in at least one chosen field that capitalises on the student’s natural aptitudes and interests, and that benefits society. If he proves meritorious, then the Merito-democratic State offers still further opportunity for “super-mastery” in his field.
In Merito-democratic education, all vestiges of the one-size-fits-all system disappear to make way for a personalised and delightful journey for children: an adventure of vitalised interaction with their teachers, peers, and environment—and with themselves. In this context all children have the freedom, space, time, and resources to discover who they are, and to co-create their own course, thriving in a community atmosphere of respect for their individuality.
In true Meritocracy, the relationship between teacher and student is the medium by which the student will develop vibrantly: it is the synapse between the individual and the community on every scale. Personality types are considered when forming classroom groups and teacher-to-group matches. The teacher is self-actualised, and not only has resources and world experiences at her disposal, but is extremely adept at detecting and responding to cues the student gives consciously and unconsciously, as to strengths, motivations, types of intelligence, and learning styles. All Merito-democratic teachers champion the student’s right to self-direction—to self-determined trajectory—and must understand the utter privilege of being near and involved with these geniuses in the making.
Meritocracy employs Optimised Education, which sees each child at the center of and as the inspiration for her own customised curriculum. Tried and true elements of Classical, Montessori and Waldorf approaches, in harmony with others from Critical Pedagogy, are blended with the most current reliable wisdom from psychology and sociology to craft a program and environment wherein students discover in comfort where their interests lie, and wherein they are encouraged and challenged to develop them. In Meritocratic education, individual talent sets are just the beginning: learning styles, personality types, and readiness are all respected, not only as regards teacher interaction, but also in every facet of planning and development. Every student is given as challenging an education as she can handle. Every student’s genius potential is fully exploited, until upon graduation she is an expert in at least one field of her choosing. The system serves the student, rather than the other way around.
How do we fund this rich vision? The Millionaire’s Death Tax provides the resources necessary for every student to shine, from enrollment to graduation.
Who is permitted to vote for education policy makers? In Meritocratic Democracy, instead of masses of unqualified individuals who know nothing salient about education practices, those working in the field of education, who demonstrate sufficient mastery, and understanding of the issues, are the ones who vote. Doesn’t that make sense? That’s Qualified Universal Suffrage applied to education.
Optimised Education in a Meritocratic Democracy deftly evolves with one goal to drive it: Equal Opportunity for Every Child—to transcend.