We just had parent-teacher conference for Trey, which has renewed my conviction to finish getting my degree so that I'm free to home-school. The teacher, who is a friend that we trust to be honest with us, announced that there isn't much more that she can do for Trey. He's in second grade and his last test scores show that he's doing fourth grade math and at least fourth grade reading. The reading test only covered the first quarter of fourth grade and he scored 100% on the test so next time, she's going to give him a higher level test to see where he tops out. All of this sounded fantastic to me since we've been teaching him math and reading at home. In fact, she pointed to some of the things and said that she knew he didn't learn this stuff in school.
Then she hit us with the bad news. In math, he's so far ahead of everyone that she won't be able to spend time teaching him. In reading, there is one other student that is in the ballpark with Trey that she can pair up with him and have them work as a team. Other than that, she said he'd just be sitting in class nodding his head and jumping through boring hoops showing that he understands what she's teaching him and this was not likely to improve until he gets to junior high school where they have advanced classes for students.
She did give us some advice for things to work with him that would make him stronger, things that they barely scratch the surface of in school, like science and nonfiction reading comprehension (wtf?). She suggested that he be in some kind of music training because of his ability there. He loves art too and every couple of weeks, we have to go visit his art teacher after school so he can show her what he has done.
Before school that day, we were out shooting hoops. When we came home, we played Magic: The Gathering (which he is now obsessed with since he found out how many Magic cards there are in the house). His nightly "homework" takes him about 5 minutes tops to complete. He reads quite a bit each day because there is a reward for the top reader each month, which he announced on Friday would be him this month. The student who consistently beat him in amount of time reading each month moved.
It would be disingenuous to blame just the competition for his reading since both of my daughters are outstanding readers and were reading several grades above their level when they were in school.
This is obviously a proud-dad post but there is more to it than that.
The American school system is a failure in both its stated purpose and now, even its actual purpose. The American school system is about indoctrination and not education. The graduation rate is about 75%, which isn't saying much given the standards, and means even less for people in urban areas where the graduation rate is 25%. There are over 1,500 high schools that are labeled "dropout factories" because less than 60% of the students graduate. Less than 60% is an "F".
Knowing this about the school system gives parents the power to change things, to some degree. I realize that the system has been set up to encourage single parent families (although I believe the UK may actually have a better system in place for destroying the nuclear family) and that corrupt practices of the government puppets of the 1% mean that many people have 2 or 3 jobs so school is more of a tax-paid babysitter than an educator. However, for those of us that can find any time at all to spend with our children, it is possible to actually teach them. It is possible to counter the government's dumbing down of generations of children.
I've already covered the increasing failure to indoctrinate. I certainly don't take part in it. Most of the students in this city refuse to say the pledge of allegiance. I don't know if Trey knows it or not. I've never asked. I suppose I should so I can tell him that it's bullshit to pledge allegiance to a flag or to a gang of criminals. I think he's picking some of that up already, just in the little bits of ethics that he asks about.
Speaking of ethics, how about a "Homework Help" question for the week? I'll be posting my answer after I get some sleep but I'd love to hear your answers:
Where do individuals get their basic ethical instincts? Small children are taught in the home, school, church and community. The things they learn there are hopefully to do the right and ethical thing whatever the situation. Now, as individuals mature and become decision makers in corporate world at mid and higher levels....where bonuses, incentives, etc. are tied to their performance appraisals....do you think they will bend those early childhood ethical convictions for that extra dollar? If so....why?