One school fits all

Are people unique? Can one system fit them all? Would you like to have a simplified life where government agents design THE car that we all get to drive, and THE clothes that we all get to wear, and THE store where we buy the selection of foods government planners put there. I assure you it would be a drab world bereft of choices, absent innovation and backward in the extreme.

Why, when it comes to something as important as education, do we abandon choice, control, innovation, variety and the individual prioritization that comes from paying as you go for what you want?

I wouldn’t care if the school system down the road was the best or the worst possible. As long as I didn’t have to use it. As long as I didn’t have to pay for it. There would be plenty of choices, just as there are for electronics, food, clothing and trombones.

What if the government made two models of trombone, tenor and bass. What more could you ask for? Got both bases covered. Quality – Bah! Tone – Bah! This model is all you NEED. You want better sound, learn to play better.

So we have a kid who should be working on a ranch, learning animal husbandry, veterinary science, living and working in the outdoors. But our ONE SYSTEM puts him in a classroom doped up on Ritalin so he won’t disrupt the teacher who is boring him to distraction.

Another is writing symphonies in her head while a small fraction of her brain multi-tasks to keep up with the snail’s-pace the rest of the room is on. She should be at music academy, but our single-model school system isn’t set up that way.

One of my daughters escaped in the 10th grade with an academic scholarship to a challenging private school to the wealthy. She was atrophying in public school, while getting A’s. The buildings were old and cheap, but the teachers earned university-level pay and had the freedom to make their subjects come alive.

Another daughter was being age-channeled along, testing at the 4.5-grade-level as she entered the 8th grade. A had many hours in helping her with her work, talking with teachers, resource specialists, psychologists… She spent 8th grade in a Waldorf school. She studied and homeworked until midnight-to-3:00am. She worked her butt off for that teacher and the class – to exit 8th grade AT GRADE LEVEL.

My middle girl left in her high-school Jr year. They weren’t reaching her or teaching her. She got her GED. Graduated from North American Firefighter’s academy. Worked there a bit. Started putting herself through a University Nursing program, getting A’s in the weeder courses where 40 enter and a dozen survive.

So the one-size-fits-all school system only failed to serve 3 out of 3 for me. Do you wonder why I resent paying for it? I resent far more the educational opportunities that IT DISPLACES.

There is next to nothing that should be taught at an age-specific level. I have just as much right to learn calculus on my dollar as my next-door neighbor’s kid does… more, in fact.

… and I would love to be teaching trombone to a dozen kids between 8 and 80 years old. This town would have a great trombone choir. But no, here you learn trombone in government school when you are 12 and play it for 1/2 hour a day until you are 17. Then put it away forever.

In case I didn’t make it clear: I do not want to design THE ONE school system, teaching or learning environment for this community. I don’t want anybody else to do that either.