Thursday, June 17, 2010

A Rant

Three weeks before school let out #5 came home with an important 3rd grade assignment. He was asked to choose from a list of famous Americans then write a report on his choice.

For #3 the choice was obvious, he would do his report on Nicola Tesla a Croatian born inventor who was a contemporary of Thomas Edison and who WAS NOT (for some odd reason at least in my third graders mind), on the list of famous Americans.

That darn educational TV teaching 9 year old's about inventors and history and crab fishing. How do you tell a nine year old who has taken up the cause of a man who did become an American citizen and who really should be equally as famous as Edison, that he just can't do the report because it isn't what the teacher wants.

So we compromised. My passionate, intelligent third grader and I, wrote the report,(his ultimatum involved not writing a report, picketing and possibly a hunger strike), followed all the guidelines, for the Edison paper then added our own twist by comparing the lives of Edison and Tesla, concluding that if both men had been willing to use their ability to see things in new and creative ways, to work together and get along with each other, the results could have been phenomenal.

At the conclusion of the last day of school when I went through #5's box of papers I came across this note attached to his third grade report.

Wow, I learned a lot about someone I had never even heard of. Next time please follow the instructions.

People, I have loved this teacher. #5 would not have made it through the year without her loving, consistent patience with him.

But, WHAT THE...

I don't know who the other Famous Americans he could have chosen were. I do know that not one of them followed the instructions as outlined. They were free thinkers, visionaries, rebels even.

Edison made it through three months of formal schooling, before the teacher called him, "addled". Tesla would have "sick" spells and do nothing for weeks then wake up with the entire working model for his next invention envisioned in complete detail.

I do know that Paul Revere was one of the choices, I wonder if the British teacher of his day would have pointed him out as a role model for following instructions.

In fact weren't most famous Americans once infamous Americans.

As I said, I have loved this boys teacher. I don't believe she is the problem just symptomatic of a larger problem.

And thus my rant.

If a third grader cares deeply enough about any subject to think outside of the instructions and fight for his right to express his beliefs by going where most third graders don't go... Shouldn't we be celebrating that?

Does our current system of education encourage and support the next generation of famous Americans.

Have we gotten so mired in trying to follow set after set of instructions that we have lost the meaning of life?

Do we think ourselves above those who follow different sets of instructions then ours or who throw out the instructions all together.

I don't have any answers just my little rant here.

I believe people and relationships are more important then the instructions.

I believe the only set of instructions that really matters is to Love God and others. And,that it is these instructions, purely lived which create the only basis for true teaching.

As Thomas Edison said of his mother who became his teacher. "My mother was the making of me. She was so true, so sure of me; and I felt I had something to live for, someone I must not disappoint."

Rant over. Now let's just hope his teacher wasn't referring to the fact that we didn't type his report.... a rant for another day.


Kristina P. said...

That is so frustrating!

JoAnna said...

Agreed. Years ago, my older brother (and my mother) had a similar issue with a teacher when my brother chose Dickens for a book report. Apparently, it wasn't on the approved list (yet he comprehended the novel and it inspired him). Disappointing!

S'mee said...

and there you go.

Poor child is a few years ahead in his studies I presume as each one of my kids learned about Tesla in HS. ugh. This is one of my frustrations with public school, one must not free think but regurgitate what the instructor places before each student, nothing ventured, nothing gained. After 13 years of education the key to earning an "A" is to know one's audience and give them what they want. Your son's teacher really wasn't looking for your child to learn, but to vomit forth a tender page with minor observations and little insight.

All I can say to encourage you is that evidently *your* family is the primary source for his education and curiosity, that and school will be over eventually and then the real fun of learning can begin! Yea for "higher" learning.

Child, "A" for going above and beyond.

Teacher, "F" for failing to see where she could have launched a real learning experience.

Barbaloot said...

Wow---first off, what a brilliant kid you have to know about Tesla and write that report! The only things I know about him I learned from 'The Prestige.' Too bad the teacher wasn't real open-minded about the report. Maybe it should be a famous American report without guidelines----just the kids say who they want to write about and go for it.

Mummy McTavish said...

I feel like we just had a coffee and big fat piece of chocolate cake at your kitchen table with the kids playing around outside. Sometimes you just need a rant.

Yay for kids that want to know more! and YAY for mummies that feed that thirst for knowledge!

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