An alternative to the current public education system must be found. It’s not hard to believe the statistics that lower income children do not recieve the best quality education available. What some might find hard to believe is that the public education system in general, is failing all our students whether they pass or not. Of course, there are always exceptions to this. There are a number of public schools the do well academically, but that is only part of the equation.
What kind of adults do we want our children to be? What kinds of experiences do we as adults encounter after the end of our school careers? Ponder those two questions for a minute. Most parents will say they want their children to be kind, responsible adults that will contribute positively to their society. Some will be very specific saying I want my child to be a doctor or an attorney. Now that we’ve answered the first question, let’s answer the second. I’m going to venture a guess and say that once a person ends their school career, whether by graduating high school or graduate school or dropping out of either, never again does that adult experience a classroom setting. Let me explain.
Right now children are admitted in Kindergarten at age five. No exceptions. Not only are there no exceptions, they have to be five by the cut off date. That’s the requirement. The children are not tested on their skills, just admitted by age. I suppose if you apply at some jobs, they might care only that you are 18 years old. Even those places however, they do not hire 18 year olds exclusively. The point being, that in kindergarten public schools group children by age as the only criteria. Never again in your entire life will you be grouped this way.
How does this prepare our children for the real world? A world where they may end up being the boss of someone who is twice their age or they maybe the oldest person on staff. It doesn’t!
Most public schools do not offer a second language until high school. All studies indicative that the sooner a child learns a second language the longer he will retain his use of that language. Fun stuff like science and debate is also usually offered starting at the high school level. Children of all ages benefit from learning skills and concepts of deductions, cause and effect, listening, waiting etc. Not offering these types of courses until high school is a disservice to our children.
This is what I propose. I’ll call it a concept school. Children are tested when their parents feel they are ready for school. Ages 4, 5, 6, or 7. They are then grouped according to skill. (Stay with me.) So if a child excels in language, he is placed with children at his level regardless of age. If he lacks math skills, then he is placed where he can get the emphasis he needs. This eliminates the “dumb kid” in a class. The teachers need not spend time and energy worrying that their “star” students are getting bored or that the “slow” student is falling behind further still. Students learn to interact with children of all ages, not just the “peer” group.
Depending on the class and type of activity, classes can range from 20 minutes to an hour. No homework would ever be assigned. Instead, children would be asked to conduct experiments at home and to discuss their findings the next day.
We need to offer our children more than average. We need to teach them to think, to solve, to create. Now that’s what I call an alternative.