Most people, including educators, don’t know what’s important about schools.We think we know what we want from schools, but we’re mostly wrong in our analysis.
By way of illustration, I offer prototypes of two 18-year-old school grads. Their qualities are different and not mutually exclusive.
I realize this is an extremely hypothetical exercise.
Still, play along, as I offer you two school system graduates, with a few guaranteed circumstances. Which would you choose, given the guarantees attached?
First, I offer you a young woman who was the top Physics student in grade twelve and the captain of the basketball team.
She was voted top athlete in her grade 11 year.
She is physically attractive and has a 4.0 grade point average.
She scored in the top decile on standardized tests in numeracy and literacy.
She had perfect attendance throughout her schooling and never missed a homework assignment or “extra mark” opportunity.
She never missed curfew or got into any difficulty with any school personnel.
I offer you a young woman who is happy and well adjusted.
She is a hard worker and loves learning.
She is tolerant, kind, and considerate.
She is accomplished at working with others and accepts personal responsibility for her actions.
She is a good citizen and a self-starter.
She is willing to stand up for herself but also capable of compromise and collaborative discussion.
She has a social conscience and is a champion of the underdog.
She is comfortable with peers and adults.
She has many friends, loves her school, and is confident and enthusiastic about her future.
Which of these two hypothetical grads would you choose?
The problem we have in education is that too many of us think we want student one when we’d actually prefer student two.