Every once in a while these young children are able to articulate things that make me go: Huh? But I listen to them and then I assure them that we parents are doing everything we can to stop this horrible test. They smile, but wonder why I care because after all I home school. To this I reply: You Matter to Me too!
Subject: Language Arts. Topic: Opinion Type: Persuasive Argument Style: Essay Grade: 5 Age: 10-11
Instructions: Please write a persuasive argument for your opinion on the following.
(This is not exact, it comes from her memory, and then my memory, so it is now twice removed)
Do you think Animals at the zoo should be let go or should the zoo keep them for awhile or should the zoo keep them forever?
She took the position of allowing the zoo to keep the animals for awhile and then to release them back into the wild. She wrote a very good essay (I believe it, after all she was able to describe the test in great detail). However, she got a very low score. She was confused and angry and asked her teacher why? She said she always does well in Language Arts and now she got a really low score. The teacher looked it over and informed her that they scored her lower because she should have chosen to fight to keep the animals at the zoo forever. This brilliant little girl proceeded to tell me how ridiculous it was to ask her, her opinion but mark her down because she didn't pick the right opinion.
This is reminiscent of an earlier test question, back in the 80's I believe, that would ask children what it would take to join a subversive group: If your friends did, if your parents did....but didn't give the child a chance to say: No I would not join that group.
Let's put it into a different context to help sound alarm bells or to at least allow people to really start questioning these types of questions that clearly want to understand not only the child's educational aptitude, but also their moral aptitude. What if the question was like this:
Please write a persuasive argument for the following question.
The government is considering lowering the mandatory school age requirement to age three. What age do you think a child should attend school for the first time? (I Ask You The Same: Answer below in the comments)
Let us then say your child answers six, and describes how important it is for a child to be with their mother and how a mother can teach the child. And let us also say they bring up health issues, and mental health and they have a very persuasive argument. Let us also say that they have perfect grammar and spelling, but get a really low score anyway. Then, to top it all off the teacher relays to them that while their argument was sound, they were docked points for not taking the right position. The right position being: Children should start mandatory education as young as two.
Ah, this is the crux of the issue: Is education to free the mind to grow and learn, or is it to push a uniform code of little Ants that do as the Queen orders? (Those who follow me closely know I am talking about the Popular and Required Reading in 1st to 3rd Grade: Two Bad Ants. Explain to me what they are teaching our children with this book? My answer: Conformity, Stand in Line, and don't be CURIOUS.)
The solution: First you must be able to answer the question, what is the purpose of Education? From there we need to reform from bottom to top, as in, tear it all down and start over. We need options. And above all, we must understand that children ARE NOT ROBOTS. They are NOT HUMAN CAPITAL. And if we are not careful, we may turn an entire generation into people who not only hate to read (because now a lot of children hate reading, and why shouldn't they when they are made to read informational texts over and over again. I love Stephen King, but I would hate him if I had to do a Close Reading session about it. If you don't know what Close Reading is please see this short presentation on it here.) But also who hate education all together. If you don't believe this couldn't happen, I see it. I saw it in my niece's eyes who once loved Language Arts, Who excelled at it, but is now confused by it and doesn't like it anymore. This is not to mention our brilliant little Math lovers who had to switch over to new math, and are now failing and now think they are stupid.
What do you think? Am I paranoid about the school system being corrupted by corporate entities who want kids to simply line up and do as they are told?
Here is an article I wrote on some solutions to our current educational situation:A Child Not A Cog or you can watch my presentation here
As always, have a beautiful day. Thanks for visiting my website and taking a few minutes to hear my