Saber-Tooth Curriculum Chapter VI

Angela Dierschke

The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same...

What is happening to our young people? They disrespect their elders, they disobey their parents. They ignore the law. They riot in the streets inflamed with wild notions. Their morals are decaying. What is to become of them? Plato, 428-347 BC

Where Are All of the Jobs?

Regardless of their education status, the youth of the Paleolithic era were unable to secure gainful employment, despite advanced degrees in the "classics." Some resorted to theft, and others to government handouts, or sponging off of their parents.

To fill up thier time, they began inventing and engaging in assorted gaming activities with the rocks that they had found on a hill. As more and more people joined, they began to contemplate the meaningfulness of how they were spending their time.

Resentment turned to anger as the youth realized that their talents were being wasted. They were self-actualized enough to see no honor in their idleness when they were quite willing and able to work and support themselves.

When the wise rulers of the tribe got wind of the unrest, they resolved to nip the problem in the bud. A commission was immediately formed to address the problem. And, although the young people themselves were not represented, the men of importance claimed to have their best interests at heart.

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If a Little Bit is Good, Then A Lot Will Be Better!

The "youth commission" first suggested that all of these young people just needed to go back to school and re-receive their remedial education. Only then would they be properly trained for the world of work. Same curriculum--More Remediation.

The Industrial Leaders saw an opportunity to make even more money by forcing retirement on current unionized employees, and then hire the younger people for a lower wage. To them, this would be a win-win.

Eventually, despite an emotional plea from the youth themselves to let them improve thier own lives with thier own hard labor, the commission members simply laughed at his ignorance. Instead, they formed special administrations to increase the amount of leisure time and organized the play of the unemployed youth so that they would be out of the way and occupied. Further, they mandated that any "free-thinking" teachers be identified to prevent this problem from growing any larger.

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Historical Context

From 1880-1900, over twenty-two million people immigrated to the United States, three million of which were children. By 1910, two million of these children were in the labor force. Only 50% attended school, and then only for a period of about five years.

Progressive Americans claimed taht too many children were spending a life in drudgery, so they lobbied for child labor laws and compulsary education. John Dewey, "The Father of Progressive Education" believed that if schools were anchored in the "whole child", that is, in the social, physical, and emotional well-being of the child, then teaching and learning would be different.

The mantra of the day was "Work-Study-Play". Children were to "learn by doing" and explore the world of work and nature. Student-centered schools began to appear, such as the Emerson School, which sought to educate the children of US Steel workers. Students were taught that their strength was to be found in the greater good of the group. Said John Taylor Gotto, "The school of the 20th century is a branch of industry, and a tool of governence."

The US Department of Education came on the scene with the view that "Education is a means to achieve important economic and social goals of a national character." The 1930's and Roosevelt's "New Deal" provided work relief for the poor through the Works Progress Administration (WPA), and the National Youth Administration (NYA). The latter of these offered hard-to-find jobs to students who needed financial help to stay in school. In return for the assistance, students in NYA programs constructed hundreds of buildings and remodeled old schools and public facilities.

By 1938, NYA served 327,000 high school and college youth, who were paid from $6 to $40 a month for "work study" projects at their schools. Another 155,000 boys and girls from relief families were paid $10 to $25 a month for part-time work that included job training. The youth normally lived at home, and worked on construction or repair projects. Its annual budget was approximately $58,000,000.