Saturday, September 14, 2013

On Education

I was reading my buddy, Eaton Rapids Joe, and he has a fairly good post on education.  I don't know if he's an educator, and I'm damned sure not, but while discussing education, he made an observation about teacher evaluations as relates to the practice of tying student performance to teacher retention.
There would also be the temptation to disown those kids.  Those kids are a threat to your livelihood, so there would be a temptation to run those kids down the discipline gang-plank and out of the school.
Again, I'm no educator, but I've worked in a high school for ten years, and I can tell you that there are several subsets of students we're talking about here.  First, and most interesting is that subset of kids who are so smart, so driven, and so dynamic that school bores them.  Think Thomas Edison, or Bill Gates in sneakers.  Those kids are going to excel regardless of what might happen, and by the time they're a junior in high school, they're bored.  The smart ones simply go through the routine and graduate because they know that a high school diploma is a good thing to have.  Fortunately, those kids are very rare.  In ten years, I've met four of them.  They're all doing well, they're all educated and credentialed, and they'll be a success no matter where they go.

There is another subset of kids, on the other end of the spectrum, who resist education at all costs.  They come to school in the morning to eat breakfast and hang out with their friends.  They don't care at all about education, or school.  They don't do homework, they don't complete projects, they don't do anything.  In fact, they actively resist education.  It is altogether fitting and proper that we send these kids packing.  In most cases, those kids have parents who also resisted education.  And note, I'm not talking any particular race, they run the spectrum of skin color.  Think Al Capone, or Tony Spilotro.  They think they're smart, they have some native intelligence, and they're perfectly capable of either doing the work, they simply would rather disrupt the school.  Often they're involved in petty crime, stealing from other students, skipping class, or simply showing up and sitting in the back of the class not doing anything.

That subset of kids is the one that causes the problems in a school, and every high school would be better off if they expelled those kids early and often.  They represent about 5% of the population of any high school and should be identified early.  If you give them enough latitude, they'll identify themselves.  If a school administrator is smart, those kids will be gone quickly.  There's no sense spending resources on bad projects.  I expect an administrator to be able to identify bad prospects and not waste my tax money on them.  The career path they've chosen is to be a field hand in a state prison, and it's only a matter of time before they achieve their dream.

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