It was strange really. I thought so anyway. The call was cordial, even lighthearted, but the unspoken conversation was nothing new. It was, 'This group. That level. This concern. That structure.'
The soft-spoken specialist on the other end of the line was trying to convince me of a specific issue with one of my children. I knew that the so-called issue didn't exist. However, I did know that this very capable educator had chosen an outlier specialization within her field. As such she needed candidates to prove her theories. Enter exhibit A - a child in the classroom, casually interacting with classmates, not suspecting that they were being evaluated.
I was dead certain about my child's character. Who they were, what they stood for, what engaged them, how they reasoned through challenges and what made them laugh. I knew that the educator was throwing a blanket theory on yet another child. I had interacted enough with this child in varying circumstances to be clear about what and who they were not. I knew them as they really were and nothing else.
I asked this concerned educator to reevaluate the situation and contact me if her observations were enduring. I never received another call.
All kids must speak this way by this age; have solid Math skills by this period; be potty-trained by this time...the list is endless. Why? Economy and education. It keeps our economy going. Think about all the products you've bought to help your kids potty-train -- there are videos, special seats, books, gadgets -- all aimed at this one goal that must be attained by this period. And most parents need to put their children through the education system, which requires that they must be potty-trained. Both these reasons are not necessarily negative. The only snag is that they perpetuate the cube.
This group. That level. This concern. That structure.
And if you don't fit into that mold? Conform or stay home.
Of course this is never overt. There is no well-meaning educator that is going to tell you to keep your kid at home because they're too much to handle. Not at all. Instead they'll recommend that your child visits their pediatrician "to rule all out medical concerns." Perhaps the hope is that something will be prescribed that would 'ease' things in the classroom. If this course is not taken then a 'shadow' is suggested to help the child during the school day.
All these 'prescriptions' may seem helpful but they miss the fundamental truth about us and our children. We are made to have ability. Off the charts creativity! And it cannot conform to a uniform standard that is imposed on us all. This is called divergent thinking that Sir Ken Robinson defines as "the ability to see lots of possible answers to a question." Sir Ken Robinson talked about the divergent thinking experiment conducted by George Land in the late-1960s. Of the 1,600 school kids between ages 3 and 5, 98% ranked as 'divergent thinking geniuses.' The same kids were tested at ages 8 and 10 and finally 13 and 15. There was a significant downward trend - at 10 only 30% were thinking at 'genius' level of divergent thinking and by fifteen, only 10%.
Our children are being made to fit into the cube. We often fit into the cube. But if you know, really know your identity and that of your child, you can stand up to this notion. I often ask myself this about my children: Who created them? Who are the created to be? Am I seeing this perfect creation? Am I accepting it my thinking? If so, it will be manifested in my life. What we accept in thought is what we see in experience.
There are educators who know this and go the extra mile. Our children's first education is from home. Be clear on his identity. Know her strong qualities. And fight for them to be properly distinguished in the classroom.
So, at your next parent-teacher conference ask yourself: This group? That level? This concern? That structure?
No thanks. I choose - Limitlessness. Divergence. Expansiveness.
RSA ANIMATE: Changing Education Paradigms