Does the Dumbing Down of America Start With Our Children?
As usual, public education is in the news. We complain about it, worry about, propose solutions to improve it, but the story is still a sad one.
LA Unified has proposed yet another set of budget cuts. This one would remove all art programs from elementary schools. Sigh.
The district is so bad off that without a major overhaul it will never improve, but I know LA Unified is not the only public school system in this country with problems. Patterns across the nation are changing for the worse. The “standards” are supposedly rising, and yet kids are entering middle school without basic math skills. Our high school students are being outscored and outplaced by their counterparts overseas. It won’t be long before we see #omfg in the dictionary.
And still, I keep hearing that elementary school is much more demanding now. “They” have high expectations. It’s not like it used to be!
Really? Because When I was in elementary school I can remember actually being scared of my math teacher. Yes, I had a separate math teacher because in my PUBLIC elementary school, beginning in the third grade we changed classes like the middle schoolers.
Nearly twenty years later, when I became a sixth grade teacher I was repeatedly called out by both parents and administrators for being too strict. For giving students low marks. Shit, they can’t remember to bring a pencil to math class?
And now, nearly twenty more years have passed. I am no longer teaching school, but I am a parent, and education is constantly on my mind. Hayden is in a pre-K program and will probably start kindergarten in August. He will undoubtedly be the youngest in his class since the state has changed the cut-off date for kindergarten age requirements. He will be in a kindergarten class with kids who look like they are in second grade, which is the single reason why I would even consider “holding him back.”
Because I do feel that by not sending him to kindergarten this fall I would be doing just that- holding him back.
As parents and educators and politicians and “experts” we have initiated the trend to hold our children back in everything they do.
Kids are being swaddled until they weigh more than the family dog. They are drinking from a bottle and wearing diapers until they are five years old (hang on, I have to gag). They are encouraged to delay kindergarten until not five, but six years old. They must now ride in carseats until they are in the fifth grade (because that is how old my son will probably be by the time he passes the weight limit for a carseat).
In some ways, we are expecting less and less of our children. And yet, we as a nation are DUMBING DOWN.
I tell you, if my son at the age of three can be shown one time how to play the Sonic racing game on a iPad and beat his father every time from there on out, he can hold a pencil and learn to write at age four.
Am I missing something here, or have the expectations for children changed considerably? And if so, why?
How do you handle these issues with your kids? Do you follow the “experts” recommendations, or do you follow your instincts and cues from your child?