Monday, February 22, 2010


So, I've noticed a disturbing trend in classrooms lately... OVER-education. It seems to me that we are demanding more "advanced" learning at younger and younger ages, and while we're raising a generation of students who can regurgitate more and more language and mathematical facts, we're also raising a generation that lacks the ability to wrap "knowledge" into concepts, or to really UNDERSTAND what they're learning. Regurgitating factoids doesn't show command of concepts, and I'm truly concerned that we're raising a generation of (forgive the term, I mean no offense) idiots.

Today for example... I was teaching 7th Grade Language Arts, and they're working on a short-story by Kurt Vonnegut, HARRISON BERGERON. Vonnegut is a master, certainly. And HARRISON BERGERON carries some serious political and social implications. But can a twelve year old really understand and GRASP Vonnegut? I didn't encounter Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. until I was sixteen! As a reasonably intelligent student, I STILL don't think I understood the implications of SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE. The blank faces on these seventh grade students just makes me wonder... is all of this "Advanced" education really helping? Or are they losing basic conceptual building blocks? Will they ever have the ability to really understand writers like Vonnegut if they're introduced to them too early?

I don't really know. But I am concerned.

One hour later....
Then there's an honors class that blows the whole idea out out of the water... They start asking super intelligent questions about the story. Questions that I believe Vonnegut intended the reader to ask. Deep questions that there are no real answers to. So... who really knows?

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