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(Baker schedules a meeting with both Bill Gates and A.S. Neill to discuss education. Bill Gates walks in and glances at his watch, looking stressed. Five minutes later, A.S. Neill comes in wearing comfortable, casual clothes. They meet in an old single roomed schoolhouse. What they’ve come to discuss is how education needs to change in America.)
Baker: Thank you so much for coming.
Gates: Of course, this is an incredibly important topic that really deserves time, effort, and thought.
Baker: So Gates, what do you think are some of the main reasons why our schools in America have been getting progressively lower test scores?
Gates: Americans have been under performing because schools are not properly equipping students to help the country. Many people have been living off of money that people made in previous years rather than going out and making money themselves. That is laziness. People aren’t working unless they feel that there is no other choice.
We need to change the school system so that more people are not just graduating from high school but learning more things that will kelp the U.S. prosper and help the economy.
Neill: I understand where you’re coming from Gates, but I think that what really needs to be considered is why people aren’t graduating and why they don’t want to go get jobs. If children were interested in what they were learning and genuinely wanted to learn, I don’t think that graduation rates would be a problem. Maybe the real problem here is that the children are forced to go to school. If someone wants something, he/she works much harder for it than those who are forced to work towards something that they don’t want.
Gates: I have heard things about your school Neill. When you give children that option on whether or not to come to class and for example they have never liked math in the past so they don’t attend the math classes, then when they graduate and realize that they enjoy numbers, they will have extreme remorse that they wouldn’t have if they were required to try new things instead of being allowed to continue being close minded.
Neill: But Gates, if the students go to the classes that interest them and they are passionate about, they will get much more out of those classes than if they were required. When they are forced to go to class, they do it because they have to. But when they choose to go to class, that they are doing for themselves.
Baker: Maybe if kids are required to take the normal math, science, English, and history classes but they get to choose what kind of math, science, English, or history classes then they would have more of a choice and might try harder because it is something that they chose to do.
Neill: It sounds good but I would question its effectiveness. A school would have trouble providing all the options and what if a child really hated science? No matter what science class they chose they would still be forced to be doing something that they hated and so would it really be different from how the schools are now?
Gates: We really need the kids to learn, even if it’s not the most fun or exciting thing. We can do this by pushing kids to take more challenging classes and making sure that they understand everything that they are learning. Our country needs our youth to grow into adults that will help this great country progress.
Neill: But if the kids are doing things that they hate, you are saying that they should have to sacrifice their personal happiness for the benefit of the country? What about self-fulfillment?
Gates: I would hope that many people, after helping their country would feel fulfilled that they had made a difference in the life of others.
Baker: Assuming that they were able to do something after all the years of having learning forced upon them. Maybe the reason that more and more people aren’t getting jobs and are instead living off of the wealth of previous generations is that after all the years of forced learning, they are sick of it. If learning was more optional, maybe more people would aspire towards it and becoming further educated.
Gates: But if learning is more optional in all of the United States, then there is a very good chance that there will be some people that take education very seriously, but many many others who wouldn’t care about education at all. The chances of the having many more people becoming illiterate and not learning much at all will increase drastically.
Neill: But I don’t think that that would be a bad thing at all. Even if some people were more uneducated that would be their choice and they would be doing what they wanted and would be happy and feel fulfilled.
Gates: But you have to think about the country! If the country as a whole is struggling and is in economic trouble, many less people will feel personally fulfilled.
Baker: So you think that in order for the most individuals to be fulfilled, the people need to help the country?
Gates: Exactly, a successful country will have more people that are successful and fulfilled.
Neill: While I agree that it is important for countries to be successful, I think that the people should not need to give up their personal fulfillment in order to make the country fulfilled. If the majority of the population is personally fulfilled then that will make the country become a better and happier place to live.
Gates: Sorry, I have to go. There’s an emergency at work.
Neill: Yes, I should go too. I have a class to teach soon.
Baker: Goodbye. Hopefully we can continue this discussion soon.