8/14/07

Education of Youth

This weekend, the famiglia de Ravioli (that would be us: Rav, Connor, Gracie, & myself) went to a party that was thrown by a fellow eye-talian family. They have become good friends of ours.

The party was to celebrate their middle child's 5th birthday (he & Connor have been friends since they were in the two-year-old class together in preschool), as well as, to celebrate our friend finishing up residency and moving on to becoming an attending physician at a hospital in our state.

These friends of ours know how to throw down and put on a party.
It is always a good time.
They have old friends they still keep in touch with.
New friends (us) that they have invited into their lives.
And the nice thing is our friends have great friends.
These parties that they throw aren't the exclusionary kind.
Everyone feels at home. Everyone is friendly and open.
It is just a good time.

While at the party, I buddied up to my friend's BFF, D. D works in a neighboring state with the deaf/blind program. She is so knowledgeable when it comes to special needs. We have talked extensively about Connor.
After she made herself a few Cosmos, D informed me that she doesn't think Connor is ADHD. She informed me that he is just flat-out brilliant. She discussed, at length, that she thinks he is working on a cure for cancer right now. And not only that, she mentioned him working for NASA and receiving full academic scholarships to Harvard, Yale, and every other Ivy League school you could think of.

Let me stop here and say that I'm not fishing for compliments nor am I trying to gloat. I'm truly getting at something here.

She went on to say that I need to nurture this boy. To get him in gifted and talented programs. To do whatever I had to do to get him into "extra" academic activities. She even said that if there is a Chess team for kindergartners to get him on it.

I realize that what she says is true to some extent. What mother doesn't think their child is brilliant? However.....
However, the problem with this that our education system in all its glory, and really I can only speak for our state as I have actual working knowledge of it, is bent on making sure everyone passes standardized tests. It seems that it is a machine, a social engineering machine, to pump out likeness after likeness. Actual grades don't really count anymore in our state. You simply have to pass standardized tests to move on. Basically.
I've recently learned that in the high school I graduated from there are no more college prep classes, average classes, and remedial classes. Everyone is lumped in together and expected to all meet a middle of the road standard. And in the high school I graduated from, the students are no longer expected to read novels. Just a few chapters of Julius Caesar, To Kill A Mockingbird, etc will suffice. There really is no reason to, you know,
read a whole book.
That is simply crazy talk.

I understand that, in theory, this is meant to help more children to be successful by aiming for the middle of the road. But what will the end result to this really be?

The other problem and panic I have when thinking of Connor's future is the unlikely-hood of being able to afford a private school.
As well as finding ways to fund extra activities that may be able to pick up where public school leaves off.

So while public schools in Delaware are aiming at mainstreaming and aiming for the middle of the population, it in turn, is leaving out kids who are on the higher part of the academic scale. As well as, the kids on the higher part of the academic scale, but on the lower part of the income scale.

I see all of this as ways to yet again, divide classes and to pump out watered down kids. There really is no motivation to aim higher. Just as long as you meet the minimum requirement and the generalized standard.

I don't want to play up to the side of the scale that only interjects on behalf of the higher end of achievement.
What service is this doing to the lower part of the scale who struggle to meet that general standard?
Being thrown in a class that basically caters to the middle and says sink or swim to the upper and lower halves, seems rather exclusionary.
How frustrating it must be for the learner who has a bit of a harder time.
There are brilliant minds who don't flourish in a traditional academic setting and we are leaving them up to their often broken devices.

I think it is faulty logic to paint every student, every learner with the same brush.
A lot of kids are being left behind with the education we are saying is acceptable.

I am here to say that I don't think the education we are offering is enough
nor acceptable.

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It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education.~Albert Einstein

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.~Nelson Mandela

All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.~Pablo Picasso

Don't limit a child to your own learning, for he was born in another time.~Rabbinical Saying

Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.~William Butler Yeats

13 ripples in the pond:

flutter said...

I agree with you. I just could not agree more.

Pgoodness said...

Absolutely. The whole 'No Child Left Behind' leaves more kids behind in the ways that matter. Standardized should not be for educational purposes except to raise the standards of education. I, too, worry about public school vs. private. I wish I was the type that could homeschool, because at least that way I would know everything possible was being done.

Joker The Lurcher said...

its the same over here - my son was drowning in mainstream school. he is really bright but his autism stopped him learning anything. there are loads of undiagnosed kids in the system who really suffer.

Anonymous said...

It really all goes back to Bush and the "No child left behind" All schools across the country are being held accountable- this I have no problem with- but the measure being used is standardized tests. Teachers are pressured not into teaching all students based on their abilities but so that everyone will pass the state test. I believe teachers need to be accountable for their work, but this is not the way.

Tabba said...

anonymous - i agree that teachers and schools need to be accountable to some degree.
However, while the whole "No Child Left Behind" sentiment might have sounded good to old Georgy boy on paper, it really is an unrealistic think to try.

The question remains, if we don't challenge each child's individual ability then really, what *is* the point?
Other than pumping out children with no ability to question, to be challenged, to challenge, to be individuals, to succeed, to think for themselves.
And there is the frightening reality of it.
Mass-produced people who will sit back and not think.
Scary.

Aliki2006 said...

Tabba--you so speak to me with this post. I've blogged many times about my frustration with the travesty of an education program NCLB offers up. I personally think my child is brilliant and talented, but he has Asperger's and it is standing in the way of his being able to perform well on the standardized tests, etc. He's only in 2nd grade and his self-steem has been damaged and he is falling behind by their standards.

I wish we could afford tons of extra stuff for him--or the private school of our dreams. Sigh.

deb said...

It's not much different here. I have one child who is gifted with learning disabilites and he didn't fit in with the school system and I have another who is severely handicapped and she didn't fit in either. The middle of the road standards leave a lot of children out.

Education needs to address differences and encourage each child and their strengths. Unfortunately, it costs money and governments aren't all that happy about putting more money into education.

Tabba said...

Aliki: Yes! Yes.....I know exactly what you are saying.

carrie said...

We have a great highly capable program here in our state, and at the higher levels, we've retained the college level courses (kids are even able to get their AA almost before they graduate high school) - but the one statement that sticks with me when my oldest began this program is that the no child left behind act applies to gifted kids as well as those struggling. This group of children are easy to ignore, so it is important to be the voice for your child, become involved with the school and advocate for them by attending meetings. It is so important.

Glad you're considering this Tabba!

Carrie

Oh, The Joys said...

Amen on the not acceptable part!! Amen to that!

thailandchani said...

You're right on all counts.

Miss seeing you around... I probably won't be back here again.. but wanted to wish you best of everything.

You are on the right track! I can see that.. and can tell.

:)

Best.

Peace,

~Chani
http://thailandgal.blogspot.com

Lacey said...

Tabba, I love your new template. Did you make it? It is so cute!

Tabba said...

Lacey - yes, i did do this one myself.....thanks for the compliments :)

Chani - i'm so sorry you feel the way you do. best to you.