Thursday, October 18, 2012

What is school for?

I strongly believe that it is time for schools to stop stealing dreams.

Seth Godin summarizes this very well in his ebook on the subject, appropriately titled: "Stop Stealing Dreams".  You can download it here for free.  Note that this is conveniently formatted as a PDF that you can easily send to your friends with kids and your teachers and the administrators at your school -- I strongly encourage you to do so.

I would also encourage you to watch the TEDx presentation that Seth Godin gave on Stop Stealing Dreams -- it's embedded below or you can click this link to get directly to it.

Here's my personal experience with this: my daughter is lucky enough to be in a charter school, which is basically a private school that is funded with state money.  The downside of the charter schools is that they are subject to the same testing routines as public schools in order to keep their funding, so they still have to teach to the test and are still restricted to the factory mentalities that are endemic in public schools.

At the beginning of this year my daughter tested well below her reading level.  The initial reaction to that, as a parent, is that you have somehow failed or that the test is wrong.  Instead, I told my daughter that she should quickly pass out of the tests required at the lower level and then read whatever she wanted for the rest of the time period without having to worry about being tested, but rather just reading whatever she wanted to as long as she enjoys what's she is reading.  Turns out that the 7-year-old decided to read Lemony Snickets and Nancy Drew and Roald Dahl -- this is a 2nd grader reading what are classed as grade 6-8 books.  Good for her.  I fully support it.  And I also fully support the fact that she told the teacher that she didn't have to read any more books she was tested on after she got an A+ on her tests; I have no apologies for the teacher that brought up my statement during parent-teacher conferences.  Nor will I apologize for telling the teacher to leave her at the lower reading level for the next time period (there's not another official test for the year) so that she can do the same thing again.

Bored in school and learning how to work in factories totally suck.  My daughter gets in trouble for doing her homework in class.  But she's bored in class and tells me that she's bored.  I've told her that if she gets in trouble, I will go in and talk to her principal -- the pressure from the teachers not to do it and to stay out of trouble is so intense, she hasn't taken me up on it yet, but she will and then she'll realize just how easy and fun it is to buck the system.

I never apologize to the administration that send notes about my daughter missing too much school -- she's away learning life through skiing and visiting different cities and countries.  Nor will I apologize to the other parents that cower in horror about the fact that I think nothing of pulling my daughter out of school for a week to go do something cool -- if you don't understand, go read the e-book; I'm happy to send you a copy.  I'll talk a good dose of street-smart mixed with book-smart anytime; book-smart only doesn't work anymore.

My daughter stands out and I'm proud of her for it.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Thank you! I feel the same way, I'm having problems with my son's test scores, and so they're going to do an(IP). I've learned that the child should not be "punished" for struggling in school, or limited to only their way of teaching, because every child(person) is different, and learns differently, and so if what they need is to classify him, to be able to give him the time he "needs" instead of the time they "assume" the child needs, then by all means. The person is so much more than the books they're able to read and learn. Everyone of us will discover what our abilities are in due time, and how book smart you are is not enough to help with your discovery.