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Revising the Bill of Rights teaches nothing useful

Sixth graders in a school in Arkansas were given an assignment to revise the Bill of Rights as they have become outdated. You can read about the task here: if you like.

We chose not to read it, and for very good reasons. First and foremost, we can't possibly see how any such drivel could really pass for education. The typical sixth grader simply isn't going to have the wherewithal to discuss anything as important as human rights with any useful insight. This isn't to dismiss them as dumb. But it is to point out that they simply are not likely to have the academic background or real world experience to contribute anything significant to such debates. They're sixth graders, for crying out loud. They cannot as a group be taken as seriously as the actual authors of the Constitution could be.

Secondly, and we know this from experience with serious schoolteachers and not from the facilitators graduating from many teacher academies, assignments like this are not education. They're open ended bull sessions which are easy to grade. They make the job of the teacher and student easier. The former's job becomes less difficult while the latter receives an artificially good grade. After all, you might have to tell a student who misidentifies the Fourth Amendment that he's wrong and hurt his GPA and self esteem. How can you call his view (and almost assuredly a knee jerk and shallow view it will be) of a revised Bill of Rights wrong, especially once you've established that the current one is broke and needs his special expertise to fix? All you will get from such assignments will be arrogant and self satisfied students. And teachers.

We feel, or, better, we hope, that most adults would get this. Most adults, again, hopefully, will see it for the tripe it is. Yet even as we say that we fear we are wrong, because too many American adults these days came through similar schools and did similar work. It is small wonder Americans are behind many other nations in math and science and real knowledge. America doesn't respect such areas and it can through American teaching.

You'll notice we haven't even gotten into the philosophy behind such an assignment yet, either. We don't have to. There isn't a serious philosophy behind it. There is only the promotion of ego. Yet folks wonder why there is increasing disrespect for others in the United States today. It all begins with sixth graders who know how to run a country.

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