If the coronavirus does not get us, our ignorance might. The COVID-19 pandemic exposed serious gaps in Americans' education. Did education cause the outbreak? No. Did our assumptions, false narratives about the world, and our willingness to blindly accept whatever our partisan poohbahs said contribute to our woes? Perhaps. Could education be improved so we can better understand the world, nature, public health, economics, and our own government? Absolutely.
During the pandemic, thousands of teachers flocked to the silicon sanctuary as shelter-in-place mandates forced schools and universities into the digital classroom. Instructors urgently wanted to know which boxes to click in their learning management systems. The “how to” literature proliferated, and much of it walked a fine line between reasonable adjustments and outright abdication of high standards of academic achievement and intellectual development. A case is made here that education was in trouble long before COVID-19 appeared, and that if we do not make substantial reforms in our schools and colleges--whether online or not--we will be at the mercy of our own ignorance, as the problems of the twenty-first century crash into our lives.