Friday, October 28, 2016

At What Cost?


*This post is in no way a response to E1's school. I love E1's school and we continue to have a positive experience year after year.

**This post is in response to all the comments and behaviors I have witnessed and continue to witness as an educator, a parent, and a community member.

At What Cost?

Nothing but the best for my kid.
Failure is not an option.
If at first you don't succeed, try try again.
Work Harder.
Be smarter. 
Stop rushing.
That was a careless mistake.
Was this really your best?
Did you study as much as you could?
You may not play outside, you need to work on your school work. 

The pressure on today's children is more than before and while we want to blame education for these demands, we, as parents, should hold up a mirror to our face and take the responsibility.

In certain areas of our country, children apply to preschool. Apply?  I don't even know how the hell you do not get into preschool because I just wrote a check for both E1 and E2. Their preschool years were different because they are different. E1 loves to learn, is curious, and strives for perfectionism. E2 is happy to play with her friends, gain independence, and learn social skills. Quite frankly, E2's preschool years are much happier than E1's were.
Even in the preschool years, there is competition. Parents compare when their child began to read, add, subtract, etc. to other children in the class. Parents compare athletic ability at that young age too. The demands put on a four year old child nauseate me.

Then, as luck would have it, our children grow up and enter elementary school. From day one the pressure and comparison begin. What reading group are you in, what math group, who is in your group? Depending on the answers, parents hire tutors in kindergarten. We live in a world where 5 year old children have tutors. The children that have tutors are not the children with learning differences. They are children who are developing normally, but not at the speed of today's schedule. A schedule that may or may not be developmentally appropriate. An academic schedule that continues to be debated.

If "regular" pressure was not enough, we have the coveted Gifted and Talented Program - the holy grail. The GT program says, "My kid is smart and I am a rock star parent." Words cannot express my disdain for what has become of this program. The GT program, initially designed for the truly gifted learner, a program designed for learning differences, has become a program of arrogance.

A gifted child has a brain that learns differently. A gifted child requires a specialized curriculum designed to engage the type of learner the gifted child is. The gifted child requires hands on experiences, project based learning, and a critical analysis of what they are learning.

The GT program does NOT mean more worksheets. The GT program does NOT mean faster paced. The GT program is NOT a place for the elite, biased parent who believes their child is better than regular. Just because your child makes good grades, does not mean your child is gifted.  If the words elite and biased offend you, I am not sorry. Do you think no one heard you say your kid is better than those students? Do you think no one heard you when you said your kid belongs with better behaved students? There is a reason some GT programs are known as the "white flight." If you are pissed off, good. You should be. The GT program needs an overhaul.

To the parents that tell their child they are smart for being GT - you're an ass hat. First, not every parent tests their child for GT so there could be unidentified children running around on the playground. Second, each district and/or state tests differently so the validity of your gifted exam is crap. Third, why did you say that to your child?? Do you think they needed the affirmation? And what happens to your precious, smart GT child when they make a bad grade? Are they no longer smart? Should they no loner be in GT? Bravo on creating a crap-tastic environment for your child. GT does not equal smart. GT means requiring different learning strategies because the GT child learns differently.

The GT test, which many believe should not be administered before 3rd grade, tests more than intelligence. It tests critical thinking skills, logic skills, and problem solving skills. A child can be gifted and suck at academics. Then what? What in the world is the school supposed to do when the precious GT child is failing?? Food for thought- your program is ill designed if it is filled with nothing more than accelerated work.

To the child going around telling other children they are GT. First, I want to punch your parents in the face. Second, someone needs to teach you about bragging and how quickly you will lose friends. Third, all you are doing for your school is earning them more funding.
To the teacher that thinks she earned the 'right' to teach GT over regular, retire because your educational philosophy makes me want to stab myself in the eye with a fork. You signed up to be a teacher and teach any child that enrolls in school. There is no earning a "better" class. You can, however, earn the respect of all your students, parents, and administrators by being a kick ass teacher regardless of the labels of your students.

To the school who places their strongest teacher in the GT class, I have two middle fingers for you. What kind of ass backward policy is that? Your strongest teachers belong with your most struggling students to help them achieve their highest potential. Struggling students are not dumb. They are students who have not been reached and if you have an amazing teacher, she/he belongs in the class with the students who have yet to be challenged and who have yet to be asked to meet high expectations.

A child's potential is not defined by a test. A child's future is not determined by a test. A label does not dictate what becomes of a child.

You know what determines a child's success?

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