Thursday, July 07, 2011

Why are you down on our schools?

That’s what a friend asked me in a comment to a Facebook link I posted to this opinion piece by Roger Ebert to which I’d added a header of “another thing wrong with our schools.”

For those of you that don’t feel like clicking over, Ebert bemoaned the MacMillan Reader edition of The Great Gatsby, which dumbs the novel way down, promoting it as some sort of gateway to reading to be used by teachers.

I take Ebert’s side; but, that isn’t the point of this post.

My friend and I went back and forth in the comments, the gist of my end of them being that schools “teach to the test,” and don’t teach a love of, and the method of, learning.

Here in Atlanta we have a current scandal running because a hundred or so Atlanta teachers and administrators made wholesale corrections of students’ achievement test answers. I’m not too interested in the fact of the cheating, as deplorable as it is. But, it seems to me that is a somewhat predictable result of an overwhelming emphasis on shoving a prescribed body of “education” down the throats of our kids with the hope and expectation that they will cough it back up on the yearly tests.

The failure is at both ends of the ability spectrum. Neither a very smart, nor a barely able, five-year old seems to get the different educations that each needs. The very smart float through the system, unchallenged. The barely able are pushed along, not helped to do more than get through the process of getting an “education.”

I don’t know much about current curriculum; but, I do know that whatever is being taught is resulting in too many adults that don’t spell very well, can’t write very well and don’t read at all. It results in too many adults that have little or no ability to think critically. It results in an increasing number of our “hard science” professionals being foreign born.

Kids aren’t fungible, they are unique. Education isn’t one, or two or ten sizes fit all. Until we figure out how to create a system that finds out what a particular kid “is,” where the kid is on his particular path and how best to move him along that path, be it at the high, middle or low end of ability, all the money in the world won’t result in an educated society.


Anonymous said...

This is kind of a side topic but: I hated hated hated high school, but loved college, and this is what I think was the difference: in high school the teachers were there because they liked kids, in college they were there because they loved their subject.

When a teacher loves his subject, it's infectious.

Dave said...

If you've been taught how to learn, the second part of my formula. I think it's pretty obvious you had the benefit of that and the love of learning part.