What do history's most notorious despots have in common with many of the flag-waving, patriotic politicians of our day? Both groups rise to power through the exploitation of fear, which has become a societal plague. There have been widespread casualties. We need an antidote. Feardom offers its readers a much-needed immunization.
photo credit: paulaaa
It would seem that the unstated goal of public “education” institutions is not to help our children succeed and learn, but to make everybody feel good about their current abilities. Instead of allowing individuals with special abilities to excel and prosper in a challenging environment, they are (whether explicitly or subtly) often held back, driving the collective group of children down to the lowest possible common denominator.
Witness the example of Montgomery County, Maryland:
Officials plan to abandon a decades-old policy that sorts second-grade students, like Dr. Seuss’s Sneetches, into those who are gifted (the Star-Belly sort) and those who are not. Several other school systems in the region identify children in the same manner. But Montgomery education leaders have decided that the practice is arbitrary and unfair.
Clarifying that the advanced classes themselves will still be available to those who want to sign up, school officials point out that their only battle is with the label itself:
The gifted label is a hot potato in public education. A school that tells some students they have gifts risks dashing the academic dreams of everyone else. Any formula for identifying gifted children, no matter how sophisticated, can be condemned for those it leaves out.
The unwillingness to recognize diversity of ability and intellect is just one further arrow in the quiver of conformity that defines the very existence and purpose of such institutions. One of the many byproducts of such a politically correct maneuver is the encouragement of hypersensitivity; trying to shield children from any label or assessment only weakens them when confronted with their reality at a later time.
While the “gifted” label may or may not be the best choice of terms, though, removing it altogether is akin to saying that one child should not receive presents on his birthday because the other children do not enjoy a similar benefit at that moment. Better that all should suffer than one be exalted above the rest, right?
Even though children will only prosper in an environment that rewards hard work and incentivizes a challenging curriculum, it should be noted that the tests used to identify so-called gifted children in the public education system are hardly the best barometer of actual knowledge and ability:
The idea of measuring the progress of millions of individual students by subjecting them to standardized tests is absurd. This does not measure the progress made by the student; it measures the progress made by the system. Our schools are really factories of mass production where the object isn’t to educate and inform, but to produce a homogenous culture of non-thinking conformists and consumers. The finished product is like a fast food hamburger from McDonald’s. It’s uniformly the same no matter where you buy it from. (Charles Sullivan, via Quoty)
It just so happens, however, that administrators are always on the lookout for cheaper and easier ways of making hamburgers, thus tempting them at times to lower the standard by which children are judged. Apparently the lowest common denominator is always able to be pushed down just a little further.