Stephanie Pearce: The American Dream, Part 4
January 25, 2015
This is my last in a series on the American Dream. Just to be clear, I had titled the columns "The American Dream" and the editorial staff added the examining Common Core to the column. This lesson plan was found online at http://www.oreknowledge.org under Colorado Lesson Plans, History and Geography, Capitalism and Socialism. In my writing, I stated this was a lesson plan, not Common Core. I did say that Common Core was condemning of our capitalistic economics. I feel that it is this way because it gives bench marks where children are to reach, but it doesn't encourage those that can go farther.
I have worked in the public school system, and I have had children in the public school system. Teachers have to be so focused on making sure all their students are at certain milestones. If children can go beyond those milestones, little is given to get them beyond. Not because teachers don't want to but because there is little time to do so. They have to make sure that everyone is passing the same milestones. Focus is on the average and the below average, getting them to the standard. There is little buy in for those who can to try harder, be smarter; being average is where you want to be.
This lesson plan (one small lesson plan — which is used for writing but presents a social studies topic), hit me the wrong way when it asked which society the child would want to live in with not all the information about them. I felt when it did give the information, in a sixth-grade mind, I could see where a child would feel sorry for the Marx and Engels and wonder why Smith moved from writing about morals to writing about an economic system that made more money but wasn't good to employees. Children are taught that things should be fair and equal, but there is nothing wrong with a society where hard work gets you more. When kids have it hounded in you early from sports, clubs and school that everything must be equal and fair, we aren't teaching them that going that extra mile with hard work, saving their own money, and being productive will get you that American Dream.
While writing this series, I have done so much research about our country. I have read countless speeches and papers on economics including Harvard Institute of Economic Research, 2001 Discussion paper number 1933 "Why Doesn't the US Have a European-Style Welfare State?" One conclusion was with "the upheaval in continental Europe over the last century has meant there were no durable institutions which could protect property against popular demand for redistribution." It contrasted with the U.S. with our Civil War and the open frontier and land grabs where owning your own property meant so much and gave us such a different attitude of the relationship between the state and an individual. We take pride in what we work hard for and I don't want to let that pride go.
In 1961, Ronald Reagan said in a speech against socialized medicine, "In this country of ours, took place the greatest revolution that has ever taken place in world's history. The only true revolution. Every other revolution simply exchanged one set of rulers for another. But here for the first time in all the thousands of years of man's relation to man, a little group of the men, the founding fathers — for the first time — established the idea that you and I had within ourselves the God given right and ability to determine our own destiny." Later in the speech he said, "If you don't do this and I don't do it, one of these days you and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children, what it once was like in America when men were free."
I don't want our children to lose the ability to determine their destinies. I also don't want them to lose the ambition to work hard to keep it even if those around them have lost it. I want my children to continue to have pride in what they make, the property they can own and the land I hope to pass down. I want them to be whatever they want to be and go as far as they want to go. I want them to be reminded of and be proud of The American Dream.