Bob Shell: The “Education” of America

high school student in a classroom with short skirt
Classroom. Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2023

Text by Bob Shell, Copyright 2023


The “Education” of America


The great writer Louis L’Amour said in his autobiography that he left school at a young age because it was interfering with his education. He lied about his age and signed on a ship’s crew. He saw the world in the merchant marine, and that real education served him in good stead when he became a writer. 

Travel — exposure to other cultures and mores is a genuine education. Yes, I didn’t drop out of high school and went on to college, but my real education came when I started traveling the world. Now, many years later, I can truthfully say I’ve visited every continent except Australia and Antarctica. I’d have visited them by now if the so-called American “justice system” hadn’t interfered with my life and education. 

Leaning is a continuing process. No one can honestly say they are “educated.” 

But, in recent years, education in the USA has taken a wrong turn, and has gone from educating to political indoctrinating. 

Yes, back in the 1960’s when I was in college, some of my instructors leaned pretty far left. Some were openly communist. But they didn’t try to force their own politics down our throats. They taught whatever they were assigned to teach, and, for the most part, left their politics at home. 

I was reminded of how much things have changed when I recently read an article in The Week, my favorite news magazine, that said that Melanie Rose Nipper, an adjunct professor at the University of Cincinnati, had given a student named Olivia Kolezyk a zero grade on a paper because Ms Kolezyk used the “outdated reference” “biological women” in the paper. Professor Nipper said she drew the line on free speech for Kolezyk “participating in a systemic harm of some kind.” 

My reaction on reading this was, “Really?” It is “participating in a systemic harm” to use the “outdated phrase” ‘biological women’ ? 

Sorry, Professor Nipper, but there are biological women. They’re human beings born with two X chromosomes. That’s not an “outdated reference,” that’s fact. I’m a biological man because I was born with one X chromosome and one Y chromosome. That’s Biology 101. That’s fact. Some people may not like that, but that does not alter its factual nature. You can’t escape basic biology! 

Recently, Liz Cheney, someone I admire very much for telling the truth at great personal risk, said that what is wrong with American politics is that we’re electing idiots. Amen to that, Liz! Apparently we’re hiring them as university professors, too. That is my opinion, which I have every right to express! 

Perhaps we’re not electing or hiring idiots, just products of the American “education system.” 

I’m housed with many young men in their 20’s, 30’s and early 40’s who graduated from highschool. Their ignorance of basic knowledge is profound. 

I had a discussion not long ago with a younger man who said the Earth couldn’t be round, because if it was, “the people on the bottom would fall off.” When I tried to explain in simplified terms about how mass generates gravitational pull, and that the Earth’s mass pulls us toward its center, he was lost. “Don’t they teach physics in your highschool these days?” I asked him. No they didn’t. 

Another thing these younger men are completely ignorant of is basic geography. Ask them to find any country on a map and they’re lost. Foreign countries are all “somewhere over there.” It’s common when we’re watching TV news for one of them to ask me, “Where’s that at?” when another country is mentioned. If I answer something like, “It’s between France and Spain,” that’s meaningless to them. These men are not stupid, in fact I’d rate them above average in intelligence in most cases, but their knowledge base is very limited. In many cases that’s why they’re in here with me. 

America is broken, my friends, and unless we fix it, we’re headed for big trouble. The young people in the rest of the world are better educated, and the dumbing down of our younger generations will surely catch up with us.


About The Author: Bob Shell is a professional photographer, author and former editor in chief of Shutterbug Magazine. He is currently serving a 35 year sentence for involuntary manslaughter for the death of Marion Franklin, one of his former models.  He is serving the 15th year of his sentence at Pocahontas State Correctional Facility, Virginia. To read Bob Shell’s, first essay on civil war, click here:

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