Getting Through

Parents and teachers should do everything possible to help kids get through high school without hating it.

-Gary Stager

Saw a recent tweet from Scott McLeod referencing this post by Gary Stager.

Wow. That is exactly what I’m facing right now with my 16-year old. How can this be? How can Gary Stager know this?

I don’t know the context of the entire post (great bits of wisdom he is sharing with parents from a Colorado school) but this bit really hit home. While I’m grateful that it appears that I’m not the only one in this situation, it is dreadfully sad that this is even an option!

My daughter (a junior) already hates high school. And honestly, who can blame her? Her every movement is questioned, regulated and controlled. She is told what she is supposed to learn, how she should learn it and how she has to demonstrate that learning. It’s even worse that the type of learning/assessment expected is largely rote, heavy reading and standardized multiple choice testing — all of which is difficult/boring for most kids, not to mention kids with attention deficits and dyslexia. For creative kids, this is enough to suck the soul out of learning and kill their spirit.

Yet, she’s blamed for not working hard enough.

Huh — have you ever seen her work on the lines to a play? unwrap a very difficult passage in a choral piece? curate visuals for her blog or develop a playlist? Watch her taking pictures sometime. She can work, she can focus. She just can’t do it on stuff that isn’t interesting. But she’s told that all the things she finds stimulating aren’t valid. Not explicitly, but truly, that’s what traditional schooling tells us all the time, everytime you enter a class, take a test or do homework.

I don’t blame the teachers. Most of them have their heart in the right place. They just have unrealistic workloads, too many standards to teach, and ridiculous pressure for these tests. Please give them some space to do what they want to do, why most of them went into the profession.

So, Gary Stager, how do I get my daughter through these last two years of high school?

2 thoughts on “Getting Through

  1. Take classes she loves, as many as possible. Don’t worry about “Carnegie Units.” She probably has enough classes she hates to graduate. Be excellent in stuff you love. Be an interesting kid. Apply to higher-ed opportunities that value what she loves. Understand that there is a great deal of diversity in higher-education. Kill-off courses she’s not happy with online or during the summer at a local community college.

    There are 20 schools in America hard to get into and 4,000 other really good ones.

    I’d be happy to make some recommendations when college time comes around.

  2. crossons says:

    Whoa — thank you!! Appreciate the affirmation that we are doing the right thing. It’ll help immensely when she’s in an academic community that values her skills, and not just the traditional education/multiple choice/non-creative stuff that she sees valued now.

    I will use your quote about schools — it’s powerful for lots of kids to remember. I will absolutely take you up on recommendations.

    I am curious about the context of the original comment — do you see this as a common problem? Would so love to have you come speak at her district!

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