Individualism is dead. In our schools, groupthink reigns supreme.
Our children are learning that giving in to the will of many is better than holding on to their own personal views. It hardly matters what choice each child makes, as the results are the same regardless. This is what the education system asks of our children. Instead of learning to carefully consider choices and accept the consequences of the decisions they make, the group makes the choices for them. They are asked to check their self-identity at the door.
In our schools, collaborative learning rules the day. Math is all about group work. The teaching of writing is difficult to recognize within the myriad of collective projects and presentations. Even discipline has become a group activity in which the actions of one or few are the responsibility of all. Children are a herd, a gaggle, a flock. Personal accomplishments, endeavors, and aspirations are overshadowed by the anticipated group outcomes and collective expectations.
In our schools, students sit elbow to elbow, with little if any time for self-reflection or personal thought. In contrast, the opportunities to share, discuss, and work together are plentiful. In many ways, schools are designed with the extrovert in mind as the social aspect of learning is encouraged at every turn.
“Thinking is hard work,” Edison said. Nevertheless, thinking is something that children should learn to do for themselves. Ayn Rand said that a student “has to be equipped to acquire further knowledge by his own effort.” When they lack the opportunities to exercise this individual effort, children do not get to practice leadership. Our country needs leadership. Our very survival depends upon it, and yet, our schools prepare our children to be followers.
Valuable collaboration takes place between strong individuals with a vision, an idea, or belief. This is one of collaboration’s greatest virtues. However, before our children can be expected to collaborate meaningfully, they must be equipped with the ability to think for themselves.