“Our children are initiated into the college cult, introduced to the “make or break” importance of getting into a good college, almost from the time they are born, so that by the time they enter high school they are rigid faithful followers, but by the time they are upperclassmen they know the game, one way or the other. They are either insiders or outsiders. Those who have made it onto one of the accelerated tracks, such as AP, have mastered getting good grades and realize that “learning” is nothing but a means to an end. Those who haven’t made it declare the educational system to be a scam and a waste of their time, so they go through the motions but have given up on learning. The cause? Parents begin plotting and planning their children’s futures before their children have learned the alphabet. Schools track. When all a child hears on a daily basis is the consequentiality of getting into a good college, the child’s sense of the rest of the word narrows. From age three these children see life through one lens, college acceptance, which neccesarily blocks out or at least distorts any activity or interest, dream or passion, which is construed as extraneous. Worse, it makes a vocation of their interests. Worse, it destroys any desire for authentic learning.” p. 108, Counterfeit Kids
Ouch! As I read this book my stomach hurt. But I had to keep reading.
Rod Baird, who recently passed away, was an English teacher at what is considered a really good public high school. His story, anecdotes and analysis are compelling, moving and thought provoking.
He challenges us to rethink what we are doing as parents and educators and to change.
Is it really this bad at all high schools? How many have lost any sense of authentic learning?
I cringe at my memories of talking about college from early on. I let this mind-set get in the way more than I like to admit.
We can’t just blame the kids. It’s not just schools and teachers. It’s parents. It’s our culture.
What can we do?
Share your ideas, examples and models for authentic education.
Challenge yourself to look at your teaching or parenting, and think about the underlying message you are giving kids about learning, responsibility and what is truly important.