Friday, October 14, 2005


Awwww. Isn't She Special? Part One

So occasionally at certain social gatherings, I get a little update from our official education correspondent. There's this practice called mainstreaming, where kids who were once in "special" classes (of the lesser kind) are now lumped into regular classes. Probably has something to do with making someone feel good. Thing is, they aren't expected to actually perform at the level of the class. They're expected to sit in the regular class, and then do lesser stuff while still getting the same units as the kids doing the regular work. Which to me sounds like the special girl getting a free ride or bonus, which is another way of saying the others are doing more work for the same credit, essentially being penalized. But what are these special favors?

In six categories, there are a total of 58 special treatments. This girl has been granted 31 of those special treatments. Some of these might be reasonable, but most of them don't seem to be. And some of them even seem to punish other students, of which Herr Professor has usually in the thirties in each class. Let's take a look.

Arrangement of Physical Space. Herr Professor (HP) is directed to do the following:
1. Keep this girl away from distracting stimuli. Examples include the air conditioner or high traffic areas.
2. Stand by the girl when giving directions. AKA stay away from the other students when giving directions.
3. She must sit near HP. Which seems like it would contradict the stay away from high traffic areas. Wouldn't the low traffic area be the corner farthest from HP and farthest from the door?
4. She must sit near a positive role model. The goal of this seems to be that this girl can then ruin not only her own education, but also the education of someone who actually wants to learn.
5. Increasing the distance between desks. HP informs me that the rooms are overcrowded as it is for the official acceptable number of students per class; this class has even more students. HP informs me that this ignorance of reality on the part of the high command is typical.

In education, edicts that "sound good" are commanded by upper echelon people who almost always have no idea of the characteristics of the environment in which they expect their commands to be carried out. The people on the front lines interacting with students on a day to day basis are never consulted and are routinely ignored in favor of some fad that some bigwig heard about in some conference in Hawaii or someplace. The damage might not be as bad if the bosses would just stick with something. Instead, the bold, innovative, ideas last for a couple of years, until the grant runs out or the next new fad comes along, and then they're tossed overboard in favor of the new flavor of the week.

Whoops! Threshold is on. Gotta run. Next time: Presentation of Lessons!
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