In her essay “Let’s Really Reform Our Schools”, Garland raises the issue of the quality of education in the United States. She believes that US high schools were experiencing a period of the disaster at the beginning of this century. Her primary complaint revolved around the attitude of both teachers and students to learning. One of Garland’s (2000) most radical ideas is to fundamentally change the principles of admitting students by accepting only those who express a genuine desire to learn. In my opinion, restricting the number of people who can go to school is an overreaction that will backfire in the form of the rising rate of juvenile delinquencies.
Firstly, the justification for school restrictions is flawed and is based on a primitive understanding of the philosophical dilemma of human rights. Garland (2000) writes that any universal right is contradictory because “your rights stop where the next guy’s begin” (p. 101). Following this line of reasoning, it becomes evident that the basic right to education undermines the rights of any student who is obliged to learn since they are constrained by other students with the same goals. For instance, families want their children to attend the same school, yet the headmaster has only one place left. According to Garland’s logic, both families should subside due to their rights ceasing to have effect. As a result, such an interpretation of human rights is self-defeating.
Another reason for the proposed restriction is the apparent uselessness of educating students who are not willing to study. Garland argues that such adolescents only create trouble, engage in bad behavior, and do not study. The subsequent implication is the necessity of their presence in the first place. There are two issues with this argument. The first is that teachers have the capacity to punish improper conduct by objectively assessing their knowledge and giving real marks. Nowhere is it written that a teacher should make all their students excel at studying. The second issue stems from determining the willingness to learn. Sometimes students get bad marks because they do not have a talent for a particular subject. It is difficult to choose an adequate criterion for sorting the motivated students from those who do not have the desire to learn.
Finally, the view of the consequences of school restrictions is short-sighted. Garland (2000) points to numerous graduates who have formally received an education, but in reality, are “merely names on the school records” (p. 101). The author misses the vital point of socialization of young people. As long as they are present in the circles of well-mannered people, they are influenced by them one way or the other. Once these young people are no longer required to socialize, they will be left on their own. Subsequently, they are likely to engage in dishonest and illegal activities since there are no better examples and teachers to correct their behavior.
Altogether, Garland underscores an important problem in society, yet her solution is not thought out. She correctly underlined the presence of young people who are not willing to learn and even prevent others from receiving an education. However, her proposition of excluding troublemakers from schools can also harm lawful young people and will likely lead to the former becoming delinquents. Ultimately, while Garland’s proposal may resolve the issue of quality education in the short term, it will bring more problems to society in the long-term perspective.
Garland, A. (2000). Let’s really reform our schools. Reader’s Digest. 101-103.