Jeremy Adams teaches civic classes at Bakersfield High School in California. In a July 24 commentary in the Los Angeles Times entitled “The Rise of the Zoombies: Lifeless, Detached Students Have Returned to My Classroom,” Adams laments the fact that after the Covid-19 layoff, his students have returned to the classroom as lifeless, detached zoombies. He writes:
They now embody the detached, lifeless malaise of a hipster zombie incapable of showing the slightest patina of zest or zeal…. They are perpetually chilled out, difficult to intellectually prod or verbally poke. They resist verbal engagement with me — or with each other.
Adams blames this phenomenon on the long pandemic layoff, which including “watching Zoom classes, learning through omnipresent pixilated screens that demanded little from them and, in too many instances, taught them even less.”
I hate to rain on Adams’s parade but he’s got it all wrong. Public (i.e., government) schooling was creating zoombies long before Covid. In fact, that’s long been one of the essential features of public (i.e., government) schooling.
Every child is born with a natural thirst for learning. From birth to six years of age, children have a wide-eyed awe of the universe. They absorb every bit of knowledge available to them. They love to learn.
But by the time they graduate high school, that natural love for learning has been smashed out of them. Most public (i.e. government) students hate to read and can’t wait to get out of high school.
That shouldn’t surprise anyone. Public schooling is run by the government. The direct management of the system is run by local governments in the form of elected school boards. But the state and federal governments also play major roles in operation of the public-school system.
In a very real sense, public schooling is army-lite. Students are forced to be there, like it or not. If their parents refuse to comply with the state’s compulsory-attendance law, they are punished severely, including with incarceration in the local jail.
Students in public schools learn the same way that military draftees learn — by having information crammed down them, accompanied by periodic testing to make certain they are memorizing the information.
How in the world is genuine learning consistent with force? When one has to force people to learn, that’s a conclusive sign that that is a highly dysfunctional system.
Real learning has never been the primary objective of public (i.e., government) schooling. The primary objective is to produce “good little citizens” — ones who don’t challenge or question things at a fundamental level, such as state-sponsored assassinations (the Kennedy assassination comes to mind) — ones who learn to defer to authority, develop mindsets of conformity, and are unable to engage in critical thinking.
In fact, the entire purpose of public (i.e., government) schooling in every nation, including Cuba, North Korea, Russia, China, and the United States, is to create zoombies — lifeless, detached human beings who swallow whatever the government tells them, including how wonderful, beneficial, and essential public (i.e., government) schooling is.
Undoubtedly, the public-school authorities will diagnose all those lifeless, detached zombies in Jeremy Adams’s classes with attention deficit disorder and prescribe drugs. Unfortunately, all too many parents — who are themselves defer-to-authority zoombies — will go along. Their children will be plied with Adderall, Ritalin, or some other damaging drug and will have to continue taking the drug until state officials are convinced that they have their minds straight.
What Adams and so many parents fail to realize is that all those zoombies are trying, in their own particular way, to deliver a message to them, one that says: “Your system sucks! Take me out of it! And get rid of it!”
I have no doubts that Adams is a great teacher. But when you have a bad system and good people, the system is going to win out every time.
There is but one solution to this statist educational morass: Separate school and state, just as our ancestors separated church and state. Do it for the children.