Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Dumbing Down

According to one of the commenters at this ABC post on gifted students, there aren't that many gifted students because they aren't being schooled in a "classical" education. Since he is obviously not one of the gifted, it needs to be explained to him that just because one doesn't have the opportunity to learn, much less master, what he considers to be important (Greek, Latin, Philosophy, Art) doesn't make one less gifted, it means one didn't have the opportunity or the exposure.

Meanwhile, back in the real world, someone has come up with a solution for those kids who are gifted but are forced to wait for their classmates to "catch up". A public school where they can go at their own pace. We make allowances in society for people who are below the norm, the same should be done for those who are above. It should be obvious that the farther you deviate from the norm, the harder it is to get along.

I'm not "gifted" but I will admit to being above average. Twice in my life I have been put on answering restriction. When I was in fourth grade I wasn't allowed to participate in the spelling bee, because I read at a college level. It wasn't my fault, I had been a very sick toddler and my dad read to me (I'm a firstborn) and I picked it up rather quickly. Books were much more pleasant than people, there were worlds where I could observe but didn't have to participate in. I'm actually not much different today but that isn't the purpose of this post.

When I was getting my Masters in Traditional Chinese Medicine, it happened again. Concurrent with my schooling, I had a full time job working with a very busy acupuncturist. Since I was almost forty at the time, I had already figured out that book learning had nothing to do with real life and I was determined that when I graduated I wouldn't look like I had just graduated. So, it's now a few years into the program and we were to spend a year following around a teacher in clinic and answer questions in front of patients, to sharpen our skills or embarrass the crap out of us, I never could tell which.

One day there had been this really interesting patient and our teacher asked several questions and nobody knew the answers, except me and I was trying to hide against the wall. Our teacher made me answer (the patient was getting worried that the people treating her were clueless) and we left the room. Just outside the door one of the other assistants bursts into tears. She starts blubbering to the teacher about how she is never going to be as smart as me, etc. The teacher tells her that it wasn't that I'm smarter, it was because I had been apprenticing. Then she told me I wasn't allowed to answer any more questions until the rest of the class caught up.

I was talking with a friend of mine who was a therapist and she got really upset and made me promise to go back to school and object, her reasoning being that they might never catch up. Which I did, then I changed teachers. As our school system leaves more and more children left behind, maybe some changes should be made that don't include standardized testing for every level and allows those who are different to pursue what interests them. Have you tried to find a good mechanic lately? The dumbing down of America is proceeding with breakneck speed and pretty soon the smartest guy in the room is likely to be Chauncey, not that anybody would notice.


  1. well said...just found your blog and i like it!
    ~best, GL HOFFMAN, Minneapolis

  2. Thank you, I appreciate it. I added your site to the blogroll, very enjoyable.