Can we hear more about the changes in intergalactic schools? (And can two of them be the removal of perfect attendance "awards" and school lunches that even the most well behaved child can't choke down?) -- Anon Guest
The Cogniscent Rights Committee had a lot to say about Terran Standard Schooling, especially that of the pre-shattering era, relics of which can still be found in Terran colonies. Nothing it had to say about the school system was polite. They tried, but there comes a time when such efforts are not only counter-productive, but sickening to attempt.
For those familiar with class sizes maxing out at ten, and tutorial groups of no more than four... allow us to walk you through the process of standardized Terran education. The evolution of a uniquely uneducational system that nevertheless persisted because the unscrupulous could make money out of it.
It began - as these things always did - with a need. In this case, it was the need of industry moguls to possess a large number of employees who could process the forms and bookkeeping procedures in an era before electronic calculating machines. The current system was run by a charitable few and attended randomly by whomever decided to show up that day. As such, the crowds of barely literate, barely numerate workers were below the standards necessary, and those who could afford such an education didn't want to work in the kind of employ that had one filling out paperwork all day. Industry and charity merged into mandatory, industrialised education.
Children forced to operate in a simulation of a regular factory environment. Regulated by the sounding of a bell. Judged on the performance of menial tasks necessary for the era of the time. Lining up to be counted, answering to a name and attendance recorded on the rolls. Being able to write legibly and perform basic mathematical tasks were mandatory. A certain amount of history -adjusted for propaganda- informed the future workers that they, too, could have success and thousands of dollars if they just worked hard enough for long enough.
Progress built on this basic model, adding standardised testing once computers could evaluate multiple choice answers, and those tests revealed results that were disturbing - children were not standardized. Imagine their shock and horror at the knowledge that cogniscent beings with free will could not possibly be turned into standard employees through rote recitation, bullying, and behavioral management strategies that are too barbaric to contemplate. You may laugh at this idea, but Humanity found it necessary to enact some changes.
Instead of analysing their young and finding an educational model that suited their growing young minds, Humanity almost unanimously decided to enact change in one way: more testing. Further discoveries that some children flagged at their education because their families could not afford food lead to food being supplied via school lunches. Since these were paid for by the taxpaying public, they were almost immediately cut back, cheapened, reduced, regulated, and transformed by slow degrees into inedible, incomprehensible, and unhealthy refuse that, nevertheless, the public complained about despite funding mansions for their elected leaders.
Further, some held that the poor should be able to pay for their food themselves, regardless of their ability to do so, and therefore punished the children of adults in debt by refusing them food that the program was initially designed to deliver without prejudice.
It was a cruel era, indeed. In these days of mandatory nutrition minimums, you likely can't understand why a family in debt would have additional cruelties heaped upon them, but these are procedures that made the worthy feel better about judging the unworthy. Children were starved in order to punish the parents into working harder, for longer, for less, and those who held that power had every moral argument as to why this was a just and valid thing to do.
Those who could attend every day, regardless of sickness, disaster, or bereavements were rewarded with small prizes. Some in the form of 'certificates' printed on paper. Others with small trophies. It didn't matter to the administration if this caused disease to spread through the schools of the era like wildfire, all that mattered was training future workers to appear, regardless of their needs, to work harder, for longer, for less.
Science attempted to remedy this dire situation. Study after study concerning basic nutrition, optimal working conditions, optimal performance hours, optimal intelligence enhancing techniques... but those who held the power ignored science, and encouraged their working classes to ignore it, too.
After all, it was no longer vital to write legibly, or know the multiplication tables. Computers did all that, now. Having a populace who could not read about what the powerful were doing to it was - advantageous to the reigning oligarchs.
The revolution came anyway, but that's another topic for another time. For independent study, pick a decade during the Terran Techno-Industrial period prior to the Shattering, and evaluate their standard schooling practices in comparison with the ones you know today.
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