Not sure if this belongs in IMHO, but we’ll see…
It seems to me that there is a gap in the way we educate people these days. It is possible to break students down into three large groups. First, there are the average students, the largest group. They range from not too bright to quite intelligent. Part of the balance comes from what their work habits are like and similar factors. These students are reasonably independent in their abilities, and don’t need special attention to get through school.
The next group are the students with special needs. For whatever reason, these children have greater difficulty with learning, and need to be carefully nurtured. Some are low in intelligence, some are extremely intelligent, most fall in between, but for whatever reason learning is a challenge.
The final group are the gifted students. These students may have higher than average intelligence, or exceptional work habits, but for whatever reason, they show immediate potential, and are greatly encouraged and nurtured.
So, here are my thoughts on how our educational system handles these three broad groups (and these groups are very broad, I will admit). We pay very careful attention to making sure special needs students are well taught and cared for, to give them a good education. This is very important, and teachers in Special education deserve lots of respect.
The gifted students are immediately strongly encouraged, put in special groups, given tutors, more interesting and challenging material, and given access to special groups and organizations. They are given special attention when it comes to grants, scholarship money, etc.
Now, this is all wonderful and good, but the question is, where does this leave all of our “average” students? I think when we encourage our gifted students and give them so much opportunity and attention, we are forgetting about our majority - the average students. The problem isn’t that we are nurturing the fast learners, but that aren’t doing the same for those who seem to fall more in the middle. Your “average” student is effectively told that they do not have great potential; that they are not worth spending so much time and effort on, because they are not going to have a great effect on the world.
Change, of course, is always affected by the majority. I think that this hyper-focus on the more advanced is cheating a lot of average level students out of getting the attention, the “push” that they really need to realize that they CAN be as successful as their IQ 160 classmate.
Naturally, we can’t turn attention away from gifted students; they need to be encouraged and helped along. But so do the average to poor ones. They need encouragement, greater opportunity, and the kind of dedicated, strong teaching that is mostly available only to either gifted or wealthier students. I think that this inequity in quality of education is one of the problems with our system today. The idea is a level playing field of educational opportunity for all students. Gifted students can advance as quickly as they need to; so can more average students. But encouraging the more gifted students will not draw anything away from the average ones, as it seems to now. Essentially, there should be an understanding that a strong effort needs to be put into teaching ALL students across the board effectively, rather than restricting the good teaching and education to those that show a greater aptitude for working within the current educational system than others.
So, that’s my rant… I hope it made sense, but it’s late. I get the feeling that I probably explained myself incorrectly, but oh well…
Thoughts? Agree? Disagree?
And mods, if this should be moved to GD, feel free (not that you wouldn’t feel free, but I’m inviting you…).