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The U.S. Education System: What Went Wrong? Part II

Of all the educational atrocities that have come to pass since our country’s infancy, the most tragic of all occurred when we took the focus off of the individual. The Founders believed that every individual citizen, no matter their circumstance, could become whatever they wanted if they were willing to work for it

Benjamin Franklin did not grow up surrounded by wealth, but what he lacked in riches he made up for with passionate curiosity. It was Franklin’s constant need-to-know-how-things-worked disposition that led him to success, despite having only spent a year or two in school.

Franklin discovered at an early age that his educational ends were better suited by exploration and experimentation. Unlike his classmates, he did not bode well in the traditional classroom environment.

Fortunately for Franklin, compulsory schooling had not yet been instituted which gave him the ability to learn as he pleased. It is frightening to think what may have occurred if Franklin had been forced to attend the conventional schools he so detested.

Like Franklin, not all children were made to fit into the mold of public school. Public schooling has become a mechanism in which one-size-fits-all, a belief that completely alienates the idea of individualism.

If we hope to achieve a nation filled with minds like Franklin’s, we need to discourage the idea that a uniform curriculum can produce satisfying results.

We need to start embracing the fact that no two children are the same. If we return to a system focused on individual choice, we can better suit the needs of our children. 

Instead of producing obedient machines, we need to be producing independent thinkers.


Amen! I assume you are familiar with Ben Franklin's autobiography, one of my favorite little books. He and his peers taught themselves many things, including how to improve writing style, how to do arithmetic (Franklin did badly in his one effort to learn arithmetic through formal education), languages, science, and many other things.

While he did exceptionally well, this style of learning was the norm in America for many years.