My family and I were having an ongoing argument with my rabbi on education. I hadn't thought about writing about it until today, when "the babysitter" used an argument very much similar to what my rabbi would say when she commented on my previous post. She said:
1-Parents complain that their kids are having too much homework as it is, imagine if they would start learning all these difficult stuff at an early age. It takes the fun out of youth. Why do these kids need to be geniuses at such a young age? So that they can impress everyone with their knowledge? till they are old enough to apply the knowledge there's no need to bombard them with physics, algebra and other stuff. Their mind's might not even be able to grasp it at that age and they will get turned off from it young, instead of if the school waits till their older and ready then they will be more accepting of the knowledge and they will understand it better.
2- Why would you want the child to feel like a failure? Kids know on their own what they think a good grade is. For many they set the standards individually, everyone still wants an A even if the passing grade is a 65. There's still the same goal. Just for those that aren't capable of doing better they don't feel like failures so long as they pass 65. Sounds good to me.
Why do these kids need to be geniuses at such a young age? So that they can impress everyone with their knowledge
I'll argue her points in reverse order; Here it goes:
"Kids know on their own what they think a good grade is."
A good grade isn't a matter of opinion.
A is an excellent grade.
B is still good
C is average/OK, should really work harder
D is bad, you really need to work harder
F is STOP being lazy or get a damn tutor or else you'll get kicked out.
There is no room for opinion. Once you put opinion into what a good grade is, education sucks. They have things similar too the Flynn Effect to ensure that these remain the same no matter what.
1+1= 2. If your kid doesn't get it, their opinion doesn't matter. Look at the education system today they are so concerned with children's feelings that children are complete morons when they leave HS. Tell the kid how it is, 'cause in the real world, their bosses sure as hell won't be nice and gentle and care about their opinions. Kids need to grow up.
“Just for those that aren't capable of doing better they don't feel like failures so long as they pass 65.”
Terrible point. Those who aren't capable of doing better should be in a lower level class; just like those who get A's easily should be in a higher class level. Or else those who always fail will feel like failures and those who always get A's will be bored and actually begin to fail out of boredom (Albert Einstein).
“Parents complain that their kids are having too much homework as it is, imagine if they would start learning all these difficult stuff at an early age.”
Don't have to imagine. I've been there. Felt like I was actually doing things in life. It was a regular school (we had parties, dances) yet we were challenged academically every day.
My school had three gifted programs
a) Nova- passing was a 75, for math passing was 85.
b) Magnet- passing was 80 and for math 90.
c) CIG- I think the same passing as magnet, but they had different class structure. Was considered better.
In 6th grade there were 4 Nova classes, 8 magnet, and 4 CIG = 16 gifted classes
In 7th grade there were 3 Nova classes, 6 magnet, and 3 CIG = 12 gifted classes
In 8th grade there were 3 Nova classes, 5 magnet, and 2 CIG = 10 gifted classes
why the decline? Because the kids couldn't handle it and left. Had we been babied, the program wouldn't have been gifted (kind of like the point child ish made with not having to accept everyone).
“It takes the fun out of youth.”
I had a blast in JHS. The teachers gave us group activities and interesting research projects, after reading Flowers for Algernon our midterm was a blob of ink and we had to discuss what we saw, and incorporate a few book sources in our essay, and later we had an in-class assignment to write an essay in which everything was supposed to be misspelled. Which was fun, yet it showed us how hard it must have been for the author to misspell just about everything (read the book summary to know why).
I even once begged my parents not to schedule a ski trip on a school day because we were going to do something fun and I didn't want to miss it.
“Why do these kids need to be geniuses at such a young age? So that they can impress everyone with their knowledge?”
a- Kids need to develop their intellect. You can't say kids should just do average. A developing intellect causes things like creativity (which is the second level of pleasure according to the 5 Levels of Pleasure article on aish). Your kid isn't going to develop anything if you send him to a school with heterogeneous classes which are unlikely to properly challenge him. S/he will need to be appropriately challenged in order to develop anything.
b- Not everyone smart shows it off, many have intellectual pursuits and tend to associate with fellow geniuses, while others are in disguise as "average" people (whatever that can mean). Not everyone brilliant shows it off. Knowledge is power and it's a personal goal for many people. You start your kid young, they may end up the next Hillel (he was 18). I'm sure Hillel wasn't bored during his youth.
“ 'til they are old enough to apply the knowledge there's no need to bombard them with physics, algebra and other stuff. Their mind's might not even be able to grasp it at that age and they will get turned off from it young, instead of if the school waits till their older and ready then they will be more accepting of the knowledge and they will understand it better.”
a) Umm...the valedictorian and salutatorian completed the 8th grade with...
- Sequential 1,2,3 regents (that's math A and B in today's)
- Earth Science Regent
- Living Environment/Biology Regent
- 9th grade English
- A year of HS Spanish/French
Then there was one class (of about 30 kids) that finished the same but only up to Sequential 2.
Then there was my class and one other class that finished only up to Sequential one and didn't do the bio regent yet held onto John's
b) I've been playing around on facebook, and seems to me that many of the students are now in top tier universities (Harvard, Cornell, Duke, Yale, BU), so I highly doubt any of them are any less accepting of knowledge, or are any less able to grasp it than those who got it at a later age.
c) basically I'm advocating levels. If their minds aren't able to grasp it, they wouldn't have been accepted into that class to begin with.
Generally on education:
One of the articles I linked to below mentioned how President Bush's No Child Left Behind Act failed the "geniuses" because the funds that were generally used towards gifted programs were taken to fund special programs, like tutoring for the "at risk" students. Which I found interesting, because the school I went to (Andries Hudde JHS/IS 240) currently does not hold the same reputation as it did during the years I was there (I graduated '01) as well as the reputations of the other schools that held such programs. Because while its nice to help the "at risk" kids, it shouldn't be at the cost of denying the smart kids of what they deserve, and they deserve good education.
In HS we had "modified" exams for the girls who weren't doing so well. I don't understand that. Why would you put the girls who cannot grasp the information in the same way as the girls who could into the same class?
I remember once in Yahadus class (I took that with the mainstreamed girls) I kept getting 1's and 2's out of 10, because I couldn't memorize chazals. Then when we were on the topic of Shabbos (always fascinated me) I got a 6 and the teacher wrote "tov" on top. I came home and was like "tov?!?" And I stopped bothering to do anything for that class. A 6 was in no way "tov" she could have written "great progress", no need for "tov". I even told my rabbi, "why bother, they think its good anyway"...and sure enough she passed me overall. My rabbi got into a whole argument 'you got to do this for yourself" blah blah myself. For myself I'd want the challenge of her telling me "great progress, I think you can do better" and then I'd try to do better. For myself I KNOW a 6 is not good; because of what the grade system represents. Once you tamper with grading because of the student as a person/individual (not just as a student) it loses its purpose, and there goes...crappy education. Again, you need class levels of the same type of "individual". In this type of class my "6" would've probably been a B+/A-. But in the mixed class I was in, a 6 was a D-, because it was comparitive.
In JHS we had some students who weren't able to handle Johns Hopkins math (which meant self-paced math) so they had teacher taught math. We had different class levels for each type of learning. And we didn't have a monolithic curriculum where we took a test and then moved on, we had a curriculum that was class paced (hence the levels) so we didn't take exams unless the class was ready and felt they knew the material. If we still failed, we'd have a retake, we wouldn't just move on and take tutoring on the side, because that wouldn't help, because who would have time to get a tutor if they're already learning something new? IF it were a few individuals that failed, they would have no choice but take tutoring, but generally, it wasn't a norm.
What do they say gohenim is? It's when Hashem shows you what you could have been, your potential. If you settle for "necessary" in anything, you'll never care to have anything more. How will you reach your potential?
I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.-- Galileo Galilei