When one thinks of socialism, and its relation to our public education system, one might find it difficult to miss the irony in socialism’s misrepresentation, or lack of representation. Tainted by capitalist propaganda, the name of socialism has been consistently viewed as anti-American and anti-democratic by the political right (a view that is taught throughout public schools in relation to an ignorant understanding of what socialism truly is). However, contrary to popular beliefs, public state and federally funded schools are indeed a product of socialist influence; and, as radical as public healthcare may seem too many Americans today, the same shouts of radicalism were generated against proponents of federal and state funded public schools in the past. Nonetheless, this isn’t about healthcare. This is about education. This is about how an idea of making education public and available for all has now become a crucial factor in maintaining a pertinent America and a thriving democracy. This is about how socialism has crafted our education system, but has been left out of our education system. The bias against socialism in our public education system can be attributed to the fear of socialist critique of the capitalist system of power. Capitalist method of thinking antagonizes socialism and makes it the thought of conflict, and in a school system that thrives off obedience and strict information storage – conflict is the last thing you want. In spite of that, however, if true education, understanding, and keen democratic goals are to be achieved, socialism should be taught in school. Although, many socialist will fear the demonization of the principle from within the public school sector, I will hope that for the sake of true education that all biases be left out of teaching of such material. But, capitalist against the idea might wonder: How can the school systems benefits from socialism? I will answer: There are, at minimum, 5 ways schools and students can benefit from teaching socialism.
- Welcoming A Different Worldview
Our school systems play the most vital role in crafting an obedient robotic individual. We praise the most plastic children who are willing to feed into the system the most without acknowledging its robbery of their creative imagination. We force children into allegiance with their country, its values, and its ideological norms without understanding how unrealistic the capitalist motto of “anyone can do it if they try hard enough,” is for a child currently living without numerous forms of privilege. We suspend or exclude all of the children not willing to accept so easily the one-sided notions shoved down their throats. By adding socialism into the curriculum, students will be opened to another worldview. A student’s dissent towards their education could be refocused and reenergized towards positive means. All dissent wouldn’t mean, a careless attitude towards knowledge, but some dissent might mean a different understanding of the world. By allowing socialism to be taught in schools, students who identify with the feeling of oppression or glass-ceiling social mobility will be able to understand that there is a different way and/or idea that may spark their intellectual interest.
- Collectivist Approach to Education
It is believed, taught, and perpetuated, under capitalist guise, that the sole benefactor of education is the individual. However, we cannot be so foolish to believe that the only person who benefits from education is the individual learning. This idea could be abolished if some of the thinking involved in the socialist message of the “collective good for all” was incorporated into education. When a student becomes a doctor, they are not the only person who benefits, all of sick society does. When a student becomes an engineer, they are not the only person who benefits, all of the shelter-needy persons of the society does. It is simple. By incorporating socialist thinking into schools, students learn that school is not just about them, it is about them and all the world around them. It is about how they are going to groom their individual talent to give back to their ever-growing and ever-needing society.
- Critical Thinking towards History
War is always a battle of beliefs, and the United States has had many enemies of war throughout history. Many of which have been governments that have adopted socialist principles from within their economy, i.e. the Soviet Union, Vietnam, Cuba, and Japan. When World War 2, Cold War, and Vietnam War units come up in social studies/history courses, it seems that somehow American opposition is tremendously demonized as following some irrational course of hatred towards the innocent America. However, teaching socialism and the principle meaning and purpose behind these oppositional governments can provide a very useful “why” to the history of America’s adversaries and allow students to subjectively discern for themselves the right and wrong side of war. This will be crucial for critical thinking, an incredibly useful aspect of knowledge that is too often overlooked. Presenting two beliefs, two governments, and two societies objectively in front of a student’s eyes and allowing them to choose for themselves the right and the wrong or to critically debate between the two is an essential and missing element in much of today’s education.
- Politicizing the Population
This is an idea that may scare people – the use of socialism to politicize the population. But, we should consider this an absolutely necessary aspect of democracy. Politics has been left out of public education, and as a result, I believe democracy has weakened. Voter turnout has dwindled and will continue to dwindle with the next generation if the people don’t become politicized. To become politicized is to generate an understanding of social, economic, and political policies in your government and governments around the world. With socialism’s influence, people will become politicize by having something to be for or against and by knowing who along the political spectrum believes and stands for the same things that they stand for. It will generate early on the importance of social justice as a political aim and how social justice and its demonstrations have helped assist the oppressed and influence the state.
- It Exist
Like it or not capitalist, socialism is a real ideology, and to continue to deny its presence in public secondary educational institutions is an absolute dismissal of an actual idea. Socialism is real. If we continue to not allow it to be taught in our schools in an unbiased and accessible way, we allow our students to remain uninformed. And, if we allow them to skip over this existing idea because of our biases, then we allow our youth to remain in ignorance. This lack of knowledge does not only leave our youth ignorant of the idea of socialism, but ignorant of the world around them. It’s time we engage fearlessly with the world, and engage fearlessly with socialism.