Sunday, October 26, 2008

This Made Me Tear Up

My heart hurts for kids whose potential will not be realized due to the fact that they attend school. A deeper pain is felt for those who will have psychological damage, some of which lasts years or a lifetime, due to attending school.

Please read this article. Do not skim it. Read it carefully and ponder it.

I wonder if as you read it, you will have the same questions raised in your mind about how hard it is to try to have effectiveness with institutional schooling, of the challenges trying to administer learning to a group of kids (you try to imagine setting up a school system if you had to start from scratch or try to imagine running a classroom).

I have come to the conclusion that schooling, that is, teaching large numbers of children as a group, and giving them an individualized education that meets the unique needs of each child and helps them become all that they truly can be is impossible. Just impossible.

I am glad that so far my children have escaped being part of the American public education system. If the day comes when my children must attend school, if I could afford it I'd send them to the best private school that matched their needs and abilities. If that was not possible I'd have to use public school (government school).

If that day ever comes, if my children enroll into a public school, despite how dedicated I have been to parenting and home educating my children I think to save my sanity I would have to disconnect myself completely from the school sytem, that is, not get on the PTA and to have minimal contact with the school teachers and school administrators. If I tried to 'stay on top of' my children's public school education I would be the staff's worst nightmare as I'd try to hold them to a higher standard than they set for themselves. I would still want individualized education but in reality I know the public schools cannot provide that so it.

Here is the article I'd like you to read:

Is it a Cheetah?


Willa said...

I felt badly for those kids while reading too.

In some ways I suppose every school kid is in that boat, though, not just gifted ones. There are talented athletes who can't play school sports because they don't get high enough grades. And so on.

I can see the problem that the public schools have. In earlier days, with the one-room schoolhouse, kids moved up through classes according to mastery, not by age level. A 9 year old who had never been to school would start in the primer class but move up quickly as he learned, if he was an able child. Now they are kept in their age group which forces a standard "norm" on children of the same age who might differ widely.

wrongshoes said...

Thank you for posting this article.

kristen said...

That article made me cry. I was a gifted child who was lost for quite a while. There was nothing challenging in school for me during Junior High so I explored other avenues. These were not good avenues but they were challenging. I was heavily involved in sex, drugs and rock-n-roll by the ripe old age of 13. During those years, you would not have been able to tell that I was academically gifted. My grades were mediocre and I had zero interest in my classes. I was the cheetah on zoo chow. One of my challenges was pulling myself back together. Today people are blown away when I talk about my misspent youth. They can't believe that a surgeon had that sort of childhood. I could have done so much more. Not that I'm dissatisfied with myself now, but I could have achieved more for my community and myself.

Elisheva Hannah Levin said...

I used to pass this out to the teachers when I taught an elementary gifted pull-out program.
The teachers often did not like the GK's. Too much. Too much work for them. Too much intensity. Just too much.

The sad thing is how many of my kids ended up doing endless hours of work that they could do in their sleep. I had one profoundly gifted second grader. Her teacher stopped teaching her spelling because she had learned it (and she had!). Once, when I visited her in her classroom, she looked up and said to me:

"So much time, too little to do!"

This is the sad state of affairs for our Cheetahs out there.

Mon said...

What an apt analogy. Both the cheetah and the zoo.

Although I'm highly dubious about this belief, "if a child teaches herself Greek at age five [etc] we can safely assume that this child is a highly gifted child". But that's another discussion.

Although giftedness is certainly an issue in the school system, I find that the discussion is limited. In my view, ALL children require more individual attention, but for differing reasons - gifted, creative, non-academic, an 'average' child forgotten amongst the rabble.

I just feel that too much attention is given to giftedness, when there are other children in the system that really need help. Although I do understand that it's a reaction to the extensive attention of poor learners, I also believe that it's an indicator of our times - wanting the super child. Much like tryng to be supermoms. I feel that we need to move beyond this now.

christinemm said...

Yes, part of what affected me was the general idea of the zoo and its analogy to school. I feel that numerous different bad things can happen just because any and all children (not just gifted ones) are put in large groups and taught in that way, and part of one huge system. Small, individual schools can break away from some components and make some of it better.

I also feel that with homeschooling the labeling is not as important. With homeschooling if the family CHOOSES to, they can individualize the home education to be best for each child without labels. But also some homeschooling families have laws in their state that are not so open so as to allow for unique and different educational methods.

In New Jersey right now a bill exists in which the state Dept of Ed will create a homeschool curriculum that must be used on all HSed children. Not good.

Those who have to do reporting to government workers about their children's progress have little wiggle room for any type of child who is behind in this area or that. The government wants mediocrity or let's say, wants all kids to be doing a bit better than average (look at NCLB scores and targets desired) in all school subject areas for all children. It is crazy to not get that all children are not going to get, say B grades in each school subject. That gives no room for those whose talents and gifts lie outside the areas of what the schools have defined is reading, math and science (the 3 subjects currently tested in Connecticut's standardized test, call the CT Mastery Test).

Also with regard to gifted kids, homeschooled or schooled both, the known fact of asynchronicity, that is, being below or well below 'average' in some subject areas yet advanced or very advanced in other areas...there is no room in the school system to accept such a notion. And with homeschooling a gifted child a parent can be accused of 'educational neglect' if a child is asynchronous just by pointing to the deficits.

I don't know what is happening where you live, Mon, but where I am I feel gifted kids in school are not at all being helped enough or paid attention to. In this state an over-emphasis is on finding learning disabilities, labeling children with one or more than giving special ed services to them. THAT is the focus here in CT. Gifted kids, the best they really get in some towns, is in the high school years they can take some AP classes. We have a law in CT that schools must test for giftedness if a parent asks but there is no rule or law that says a town has to give a 'GT' or "TAG" program for kids with that label. Often elem. grades do zilch for GT kids and some towns have GT programs for middle school.

Mon when you said wanting to be supermoms do you mean it is wrong to want a child with GT traits to have a chance to excel well in the school system or do you mean a supermom wants their child with an LD label to get 'fixed'?

The super child, perhaps some to blame are school teachers themselves who seem to be putting too much on the notion that only if every child had a good education they can be a 'superstar' or 'genius' or whatever. My post the other day on Charles Murray--did you read that and listen to his lecture? Something to be said for that.

Also regarding 'super kids' did you see my note regarding my old post on the essay on the net called "The Kindergarchy" by Epstein?

Looking back on the generations in my family and my own childhood and my school experience I think that one issue was that my family members (adults) were more focused on basic survival. Life was not about creating super kids it was about just getting by. Kids were not given shall I say, the highest priority in the adult's lives because the adults were busy taking care of the family and home, trying to pay bills etc. Or maybe that is just MY family.

I could go on and on but will stop.