From: Adam Foit (51)
Subject: jr. high
My younger brother just recently made the progression from jr. high to
high school, and I have witnessed first hand the changes that have taken place
in the education system just since I navigated the maelstrom of puberty.
Part of the problem is the focus away from learning and towards the
statistical results (or goals) imposed on these children. Kids are taking the
ACT and SAT for practice in Jr. High. *Maybe* not a bad idea, but come on,
kids have enough to worry about at 13 & 14 without pouring on the pressure of
college admission that is four years away. We also have the state proficiency
test in middle school and in high school -- yet another standardized test to
measure the worth of our students. One of the reasons behind the (should I say
alleged?) disappearance of the joy of learning is because the focus of
education has been placed on scores. Learning about dinosaurs and space travel
probably won't help your grammar scores or your math scores. I don't think
kids expect learning to be easy and fun instead of knowing that it will be
tedious and boring.
This is also true in high school and college. Two or three times a
year we have stats coming out telling us what kind of majors make the most
money coming out of college. Of course interest is going to go down in
subjects like the classics when kids are being told that marketing and systems
analysis is the only way to make a good income. Why else do young people go
Competition seems to be the motivating force in evolution, yet
burdening kids with such a strong obsession to satisfy performance standards
could serve to cut many kids off. There seems to be a lack of encouragement of
individuality inside the curriculm, a stigma against creativity.
I agree that not enough kids are reading books on their own these days.
Why? I'm not sure. Maybe imagination doesn't have the value it used to have.
I agree not enough children get excited about simply learning for knowledge's
sake. Could be that we teach them simple knowledge isn't enough, it takes a
masters in computer sceince or marketing for them to do anything --combined
with the fanatical devotion to athletics compared to the meager respect of
academics. 90% of the clothes worn at my younger brother's high school are
adverstisments for nike, reebok, or some sort of athletic team.
Just two cents worth from a college junior who still vividly remembers
the repect I won for getting 8th in powerlifting contests and playing football,
but the "homo" and "egghead" comments I got in jr. high for loving to read ALL
THE TIME. I apologize for my lack of solutions, but I felt that the two
humanists who brought so many wonderful insights to this problem left out a few
I think kids basically want to do well in the eyes of others. But if a
child finds out early on that he doesn't like math, and everyone tells him that
he's going to have to take calculus in college if he wants to do anything with
his life, then that kid might start to turn himself off at a young age to
overcoming many of education's fundamental hurdles. I would appreciate it if
Mark or Wendell let me know if they think I'm off target.
I hope you are all enjoying spring as much as I am,