Public Schooling – Trying to stay (on the) Objective

The Principles of War, used by the US Army, and adapted from Clausewitz, include the Objective:

  • Objective: Direct every military operation toward a clearly defined, decisive and attainable objective. “The ultimate military purpose of war is the destruction of the enemy’s armed forces and will to fight.”

If the purpose/mission of a public education is to create “Good People in a Good Society”, and the chief enemies to doing this are apathy, dysfunctionalism, un-connectedness to civil society, and ignorance amongst students, how are we destroying the enemy’s armed forces and will to fight?

For the insurgents in Iraq in 2003-2004, their enemy was often times our forces. Destroying our forces was beyond their means on a massive scale, so they had to focus instead on symbolic acts that would demoralize our troops and the nation that sent them. They had to resort to assymetrical warfare, as they could not go toe-to-toe with us for a protracted period of time.

The only way for them to win the fight (i.e. expel us from their country) is to make the objective of our country in Iraq (subject to your viewpoint…regime change, WMD eradication, oil, all of the above) seem unattainable, or attainable at such a high cost as to be determined to be unacceptable. If we look at the events over the past 7 years, from the perspective of each of the interested parties in Iraq, and put ourselves in their shoes, many of the headlines seem to create a pattern that is recognizable. We can see in a limited way from their vantage point, and in so doing look at our own weaknesses.

MSGT Cantrell taught us in ROTC to set up a defensive position, and to go out in front of it (assuming there was plenty of time and the situation allowed for this to be done safely!) and to turn around and look at our defenses from the perspective of the enemy. Where are the weak spots? How do we exploit them? How do we breach the defenses, and then create havoc and confusion amongst the defenders?

Public schooling in America as a whole has lost its focus on the Objective, and has instead compromised the fight by allowing the enemy to dictate the battle. Perhaps we need to examine the Objective of each of the enemies to public schooling, and then look at our defenses from the perspective of our adversaries (apathy, dysfunctionalism, un-connectedness to civil society, and ignorance amongst students).

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