I have one more week with my children before I send the three in the middle off to school. A week after that, my oldest is heading to Kansas Cityto hang out with friends, work, and eventually go to IHOP (International House of Prayer). At least that is his current plan. I have mixed feeling about both of these situations.
I think getting away from home will be a good move for our oldest but he is planning to travel by bicycle and just the thought of that gives me gray hair. We are talking fourteen hundred miles here. But then this is the son who at five climbed twenty-five feet up in a pine tree unassisted, thinks it is not really fishing unless you are hip deep in a fast moving river, and jumps into the same river from thirty foot cliffs. So what is one more adventure? I will miss him but he could have left home two years ago so I guess I should be thankful I got a little extra time with him before he tried his wings.
My problem with sending the middle three off to school is that the more my children attend public school the more I dislike public school. I have one child at the post high school level, one in high school, and one in middle school. The same prejudices exist at all three levels. Those who are intelligent verbal-linguistically do well. If they also happen to be intelligent mathematically and logically they do extremely well. Some who are smart bodily-kinesthetically or musically will be offered sports or music scholarships in order to advance beyond high school, providing their verbal-linguistic intelligence is not too low of course. All measurements for success or predicted success–ACTs, SATs, GPAs–are skewed to favor the verbal-linguistically intelligent.
I am not looking forward to the battle of educating my children’s educators about their different intelligences. I do not want to have to fight to have their strengths recognized or their weaknesses addressed in ways that will actually benefit them and not just cater to the status-quo.
I am frustrated that education has become less and less about seeing and encouraging individual gifts, talents, and strengths and more and more about meeting minimum standards for everyone.
I was not surprised to discover that the USA ranks 19th in the industrialized world for high school graduation. Our children are bored because our schools have failed to capture their imaginations, stimulate their creativity, or challenge them to think outside the box. When are we going to demand more? And I do not mean giving more tasks and more paper work to already over burdened and under paid educators.
For you see, our educators have been vitimized as well. We unfairly burden them when we expect educators to teach but fail to give them the tools they need to teach well. We over tax them with large class sizes and small budgets. And, we shackle their creativity when we force them to teach to a test rather than to a curious mind.
What would happen to education if curiosity and creativity ruled the day? What if businessmen and scientists partnered with educators and were given access to the classroom by way of teams of student apprentices and lab assistants? What if student journalists had a column in the local paper, shop keepers gave student artists an opportunity to be window dressers or ad agencies taught and then hired student graphic designers? What would happen if the drama teacher and the metals or woodshop instructor team taught for a quarter every year? What if the science department took on an alternative energy project or everyone in the government class was expected to work for a political action committee?
What if creativity and curiosity ruled the day?