Thursday, September 1, 2005

Dalton McGuinty needs compulsory shaming

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty was in London yesterday announcing his government's plans to advance authoritarian oversight in the province to extend a defective education process without improving results. From the London Free Press:

"We'll be introducing legislation in the fall that will specifically address the issue of ensuring that young people continue to learn until they reach the age of 18," he said.

[…] "At the beginning of the 21st century, in a knowledge economy, it is not sensible to say to our young people, 'You're 16, you want to drop out, that's fine by us,' " McGuinty said. "What our government is saying is that is no longer fine by us."
What Mr. McGuinty and his government say is suppositious fiction — what they do is exert force to compel people to act according to the government's paternalist aims. The euphemism that the Liberals are only vocalizing advice obscures the authoritarian nature of legislation and suggests that people may safely ignore their solicitations. People who drop out of high school likely consider the government's wishes in the matter irrelevant or non-existent already.

What Dalton McGuinty implies by "ensuring that young people continue to learn" is that the definition of learning is his and his government's and that learning does not continue outside officially designated institutional control, which places at an outrageous discount learning to outgrow adolescence and to provide for oneself. What Dalton McGuinty means is that young people must continue to surrender more control of their time and actions to approval of authority. The appeal to a knowledge economy emphasizes the servitude to which young people must place their services for the province's requirements.

Compelling people to remain in a formal education system for which they have no further interest or desire can only further diminish the sense that they have any control over their lives. Will this produce a corresponding increase in productivity? I cannot see how this could be so. There are three people I know who dropped out of high school and never received a high school diploma. All three are employed in respectable occupations and provide very well for themselves without taxpayer assistance — two have university degrees and the other makes $100,000 a year. All pay taxes to support an education system from which they understood they no longer derived any benefit. I would like to know how Dalton McGuinty could suggest that their interests would have been served by such legislation — better yet, I would like Mr. McGuinty to address the question to their faces.

Nifty graphics and slogans and relentless smiles are the keys to better education in Ontario
The Germans were the earliest to institute a system of general education, and the wonderful progress of Germany in every respect is now largely attributed to the thoroughness of national education…

The fact that in Germany elementary education has been generally compulsory and, to a large extent, also gratuitous, for more than one hundred and fifty years, is recognized to be an essential element in recent political, industrial, and commercial successes of the nation.

— George Milton, Compulsory Education in the Southern States, pub. 1908.
Cited in Compulsory Education: The Dialogue Reopens, The Home School Court Report, 16(5).


Pietr said...

Leslie,go and play on the motorway.
Now,if Germany had 150 years of compulsory education, why didn't they start the Industrial Revolution?Or any revolution?But they did destroy Europe.

basil said...

What a wonderful idea. I'm sure the quality of education will improve for everybody, especially those students who want to learn. And I'm sure schools will be even safer places for our children than they already are - especially with all their anti-bullying rhetoric going round.

But if they're so concerned with education, why are they planning to dumb it all down? Why not make young adults learn Latin, Greek and metaphysics in addition Civics before they graduate - and if they don't, well hell, keep'em 'til they're 21! And we must beat them - espcially when they provide the right answers!!! Just to remind them to stay in their place.

Publius said...

As for the remarkable progress of the German economy in the late nineteenth century, compulsory education had precious little to do with it. Germany did not surpass Britain in terms of per capita income until the late 1950s! And then only because Britain had gone completely pink.

The British only instituted a system of compulsory public education in the late 1870s and it took nearly two decades to completely implement. In otherwords, for all the advantages the Germans supposedly derived from their authoritarian educational system, they were unable to catch up to the Brits until 6 decades after the British had adopted the same Prussian style model.

Pietr said...

Nicely pointed out,Publius.What happened to Leslie?Should've kept her as a trophy.

MapMaster said...

I agree — good points, Publius (the secret to getting a comment from Publius is to include an historical reference — he can't help himself). Practically, as well as morally, Ontario is engaged in a competitive race to the bottom.

Mitch said...


The country where you have to go to school for 25 years, apprentice for another 10, then you're ready for a full time job with 16 weeks paid vacation. 15 years on the job then a full pension. No wonder they're going down the toilet. And of course, Dalton wants to emulate that to ensure that everyone is a ward of the state.