Enough

Enough already.  When will we stop the senseless measuring of young children’s intellect by whether or not they can perform (quickly) mundane tasks that require minimal intellectual effort and capacity?  I sit with children every day who can make elaborate and airtight arguments, design architecturally sound and aesthetically interesting structures, negotiate solutions to complicated social disturbances but can’t remember 7×7.  At 8, 9, 10 years old they learn that this shortcoming is an indication of their intelligence, and thus of the degree to which they can be successful; their future potential as a student and then as a wage-earner.

We think it’s a secret because we don’t say it to them in so many words, but they figure it out.  They know that in the eyes of the adults in charge, there are smart kids and not smart kids.  And they know that it’s the smart kids who go to the good colleges, or college at all, and the smart kids who become doctors and lawyers and all the other professionals we hold in high esteem.  They know that we don’t think it’s smart, or at least not the important kind of smart, to be able to fix something, draw something, see something we didn’t see.  They know that the smart that counts in our minds is the kind that lives in reading and writing and math and science and social studies (and only barely the latter two). So they measure themselves that way, form their opinions and their plans around it, shrink the size of what’s possible and probable for them down to the size of our assessment.

It’s a sickening and tragic waste of life and capacity.  I think we should consider stopping.

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