Friday, February 12, 2010

There's just not enough vitriolic anger in the world.

Apparently no children make their own toast anymore. Goverment kickbacks cause deaths, not greedy human nature, and stupid people need the most help.

Let me explain: segment of Grade Three Science class features the projection of a jar, with the following multiple-choice question:
What force do we use to open the jar? A. Pull, B. Twist, C. Push.

I teach several children this age and younger and we routinely talk about the mechanics of sound.

They understand that the amplitude of string vibration is directly correlated to the amount of sound they output. They understand that the shorter you make a string (and thinner) the higher it will sound when plucked or played. They know that the hair on their bow comes from horses' tails' and that the cuticle looks like a lot of hooks on a pole and resin will make those hooks stronger and therefore make their bow feel 'stickier' against the string.  I could go on, but you're all probably already clutching your heads and wishing I would stop.

What's my point? I don't want to send my children to school because it will make them stupid. Being smart is not the ultimate goal, don't get me wrong. But we treat kids like they're stupid and expect RESPECT? We expect engagement? Give me a break.

School is daycare. School is damn good training for the rigors of a workplace that want you to clock on, clock off, watch some tv and drink a few glasses of wine.

The families I know who have abolished a tv have a problem. Their kids can concentrate. They can create. And they no longer fit into the bite-size, life-support model of education perpetuated in the traditional classroom. Oops.

I can't believe how badly we fail our kids every day. That we have the nerve to call it education is preposterous; that no-one will stand up and try for a better model is a damning indictment on the complacency that has befallen the inhabitants of "The Lucky Country".

I don't know what to do about this. I don't know what I can do about this. Part of me wants to establish a Suzuki preschool, but as soon as these things are regimented and law-abiding somehow all the energy gets sucked into obeying the rules. Suddenly half our time is spent accumulating data by which to judge the achievement of benchmarks instead of leaping over the damn things in blissful ignorance of the limits they impose.

I know five-year-olds doing algebra. I know kids that can play classical repertoire from memory for HOURS on end, and read Tolkien well before they finish Grade 3. I was one of those kids.
No, I don't advocate hothousing. This is not about spending hours chained up - I will forthrightly tell you it was a rare day I spent more than three hours doing any type of academic work.

I advocate the right of each child to fulfill their potential. I advocate schools that will nurture the individual possibility and strengths of each child while challenging them to improve and conquer their weaknesses.

We don't even scratch the surface.