I’ve been arguing with myself lately.
One one hand, I believe that three things will make it more than likely that you will do well in any school system you get thrown into.
- A stable household
- An adequate family income
- A family interest in education
Statistically, those folks who grow up with those three things in place will do better in school and in life. Society believes they have what it takes. They will do fine. They’ll get into college (if they choose), work hard and have a career. Probably.
But I am ignoring, then, the number of folks who are intelligent, self-sufficient and living lives of great satisfaction who hated school and couldn’t wait to leave. Who had a hard job recovering from the damage school did to their perception of what they could accomplish.
My assumption, above, also ignores the fact that while well-off people are more likely to “succeed” in school, the fact is that the quest for "good grades" is only the acceptance of the limitations the school system places on children's learning. Good grades, adult approval, and successful competition with other students are not synonymous with great learning.
So who DOES the current system of public education work for?
There are students who understand that they are playing a game. They are aware of the artificial nature of “doing well.” They don’t allow school to limit their learning. And they have a family who are able to support and nurture their drive to learn.
These kids will succeed in school without allowing it to hamper their innovation and creativity.
But, see, that’s not fair. There is innovation and creativity in every single student in every single school. They all deserve to be set free from the limitations of standardization and testing. They all need to take off the yoke of good grades and fixed expectations.
You might think that The Sandbox, a Passionate Learning Cooperative will best serve those kids who do badly, get bad grades, can’t sit still or keep up.
I don’t believe that’s true. I think The Sandbox is for all kinds of students. Nobody should accept any limitations. No-one should have to “go for the A” as a badge of honor, status symbol, or guarantee of adult approval. It might be all those things, but it is not learning.
Just as grades impose limitations on students, standardization and high-stakes testing imposes limits on our schools. These, of course, get passed down to students. But we as adults and caring parents don’t have to accept those limitations.
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