Teens grumbling about having to scrape themselves off their beds to slog off to school is irritatingly common, but despite their incessant complaining, there’s proof they actually do like being shuttled off to school. After all, we’ve seen what happens when children are outright denied their right to an education. There’s also proof that kids actually have standards and expectations regarding their education, however awkwardly and insufficiently they explain that particular nebulous idea. So what happens when they’re given full access to an education and the kids decide it like, totally sucks?
Decades of declining education quality in Argentina has lead to a tradition of annual, student-led protests at a number of Argentine high schools, particularly in the past three years. The most recent protests that began in September and ended just last month stemmed from a curriculum reform that reduced instructional time in social sciences such as History and Geography.
Interviews with students show a dimension of analysis that American students often overlook: political and long-term implications of educational reforms. Voting is mandatory for Argentines between the ages of 18 and 70, and in 2012 it became optional for 16- and 17- year-olds; this legal prompt may be cuing students to think critically about the educational background necessary to wisely select their government officials. Plato did say, “One of the penalties of not participating in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.” It appears these students are taking that proverb seriously, and rightly so. Students are concerned that cutting instructional hours will have a detrimental effect on their political decision-making abilities.
The government’s side of the picket line maintains that it is streamlining education by eliminating unnecessary hours of instruction, claiming greater efficiency; although specifics about how that efficiency will manifest itself were absent. Streamlined or not, students want those extra hours of class at least for a sense of security. Their obvious conclusion is that less is not more, and that efficiency may not always equate with efficacy.