The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

The World Would Never Benefit From Einstein’s Genius If He Was Born Today …
April 25, 2013, 6:08 am
Filed under: Comment

So recently I was talking about education policy with a number of parents.

As I’ve said numerous times, while I am a massive advocate of learning, I have a lot of issues with the way certain bodies approach it – from treating it as a profit centre to creating an environment of qualification inflation.

That said, one thing I particularly loathe is how more and more schools are segregating their students into groups from a very early age.

While putting people in the right learning set is obviously important to aid their development, my issue is that it seems to be less about the students ‘pace’ of learning and more about where the school thinks that individuals ‘place’ in the society will be.

Asia is particularly bad at this.

Singapore actively filters students from a young age.

Through a series of exams and tests, they determine who they believe will be the most successful in life and split them off from the others.

In essence, it’s a two-tier – highly competitive – learning system, where those deemed with the most potential are treated – and taught – differently from those regarded as ‘average’.

As I said, I have no issue with people being placed into groups that have been designed to aid their abilities, but I certainly don’t agree with the subliminal – and not so subliminal – attitude and belief that this reflects the level of success a student can – or will – achieve in their life.

I’ve written previously how my [bad] careers officer almost destroyed all my passion, hopes and beliefs because he decided my expected school grades meant I had no hope of ever getting somewhere in life even though my general school grades were good … but I can’t help but feel it’s getting even worse these days.

I was incredibly fortunate that I had amazing parents who instilled in me the belief that if I wanted something enough – and was willing to work very hard for it – I could achieve it, but we now live in a World where people aren’t just judging a book by its cover, but pre-filtering the books so that anyone who ‘doesn’t fit in’, gets placed on a shelf where their chances of success are as impacted as if they had been in prison.

What’s worse is we are accepting it.

We are accepting a system that prejudices from the earliest age.

We are spending ever-more outrageous amounts on schools under the guise of wanting our children to get the best opportunity for life and while I totally understand and appreciate that, the reality is it’s not about having the ‘best opportunity’, it’s actually about having ‘a chance’ to have a semi-decent life which is why for me, the attitude being perpetuated by schools that ‘pace’ equates to ‘place’ is the most terrible things that has happened in society.

Not just for the children – or adults – it affects in schools or jobs, but for all of us, because we are limiting the potential of what the World can be from the very start.

127 Comments so far
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Work very hard for what? Having a job you don’t have to work very hard in?

Why didnt my parents tell me about that when I was a kid?

Comment by DH

It’s been a very long and challenging road, thank you very much Dave.

Comment by Rob

By the way Rob, can you tell me what election you’re running for because you don’t mention it in this post. I won’t vote for you, but I’d like to see how you go.

Comment by DH

This is excellent Robert. I once went to a parents evening where a teacher told me her job was to prepare and equip my daughter for the harsh and competitive nature of life. My daughter was 7 years of age at the time.
I don’t want teachers to prepare and equip, I want teachers to teach and nurture. I want them to help my children be as good as they can be because how they handle life is up to me, their mum and themselves.
I very much like posts like this Robert, you should do more. You should also get on with being a dad, because you will be an excellent one.

Comment by George

And “pace equals place” is an excellent summation of how schools think. I’ll be using that in my next debate at the PTA.

Comment by George

Putting to one side the fact that someone who got excellent grades in science subjects and was the son of the founder of a successful engineering company is exacty the sort of person who would succeed in today’s education system and be able to afford the tuition fees, I agree wioth this post completely.

Comment by John

The John we all know and tolerate is back. Only joking John. Very good point but I thought Einstein ended up leaving school without any significant grades. Is that a myth or am I simply getting my school exam failures confused?

Comment by George

“In late summer 1895, at the age of sixteen, Einstein sat the entrance examinations for the Swiss Federal Polytechnic in Zurich (later the Eidgenössische Polytechnische Schule). He failed to reach the required standard in several subjects, but obtained exceptional grades in physics and mathematics.On the advice of the Principal of the Polytechnic, he attended the Aargau Cantonal School in Aarau, Switzerland, in 1895–96 to complete his secondary schooling. In September 1896, he passed the Swiss Matura with mostly good grades (including a top grade of 6 in physics and mathematical subjects, on a scale of 1-6), and, though only seventeen, enrolled in the four-year mathematics and physics teaching diploma program at the ETH Zurich.” Wikipedia

Comment by John

Owned by wiki. Devastating.

Comment by George

Damn, I thought he’d failed as well.

Well, he did – kinda – but maybe not as much as I did, which basically makes me feel even worse given the only positive thing I was able to latch on to about my terrible level of school qualifications was that I basically ended up with the same grades as Einstein. Except now I learn I didn’t.

Damn you Wikipedia. And John Dodds.

Comment by Rob

I think kids would see your life (achieve nothing at school or life and getting paid a fortune to do nothing and just keep having holidays) as more attractive than Einstein’s. (study hard, die)

Minus the shit clothes and music.

Comment by Billy Whizz

Watch the PBS video that they aired back in ’05 (see link below) about Einstein. I think it speaks volumes about how schools try to educate people but don’t let them think outside the box or when a person wants to challenge what is “known” by teachers they don’t want to hear it and discourage the student….

Comment by PonderThis1

But I would say that it has always been like this. The filtering education system with a bias towards certain backgrounds bit, not the my agreeing with your post bit.

Comment by John

Call me naive, but beyond numeracy and literacy I view the role of education as being about learning how to learn rather than learning how to pass exams.If you do the former, the latter follows anyway but with passion and enjoyment undiminished.

Comment by John

Excellent point John. That is exactly what school should be for though as Rob has pointed out, in Asia it’s focus is on applied memory rather than the applied learning.

Comment by Pete

Great point John and great point Pete. Though in Asia’s defense – the education approach and policy is improving [albeit very slowly] and in the case of China, when you have a population of over a billion, traditional ‘teaching’ methodologies may not be the best way forward. Maybe.

Comment by Rob

I agree with John that this situation has always been part of the education system. But I also agree that it has escalated in the past decade driven by fear, profit and pride.

Comment by Pete

Do you mean pride = parents, fear = government and profit = schools. Mind you, when I think about it, they’re all interchangeable, which makes it even worse somehow.

Comment by Rob

You don’t need grades when you’re hot. No wonder Einstein needed to invent some science shit.

Comment by Billy Whizz

I’m going to be nice to you and not say a word.

Comment by Rob

I guess you were on holiday when they came to visit

Comment by John


Comment by Rob

There was a piece in the papers yesterday about how poor children do much worse in rich area schools than they do in poor area schools. Shows a worrying case of how attainment seems to take on different meanings for some, and how segregation of all kinds happen.

I think most teachers want to genuinely see their pupils do well, however the systems very often restrict them in that. If Michael Gove gets his way I dread to think how bad things could get.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

As I said, this pace equates to place is a very worrying – and incorrect – viewpoint being banded about by schools and government.

What makes it worse is that children whose speed of learning is maybe slower than others end up being groomed for a life of lower expectation rather than being educated to give them a chance to live the life they want.

I know this is very easy to say when you don’t have to organise it and I know over-promising is as bad as under-promising … but my personal experience shows that if it wasn’t for my parents and a few people who believed in me, I’d be living a very different life, and while that wouldn’t be bad [mainly because I wouldn’t know better], being encouraged to aim higher was a key to helping me be where I am whereas many aren’t so lucky hence the ‘class system’ not only seems to be back and thriving, but it also seems to be being defined earlier and earlier in people’s lives, which frankly makes me feel ill.

Comment by Rob

It takes a couple of days before the penny really drops but from the US to China the international establishment have no interest in a fully conscious, questioning and intelligent population. The way to keep people down is to train them in a school (origin of word ‘school of fish’) whereby they learn to be obedient and responsive to authority and express themselves through consumer desires that if unprofitable are never championed by the corporate med Everyone y one has to pay bills but bear with me). The point is not made in a comment or a blog post but by sitting down with the material, research and work by Charlotte Iserbyt and John Taylor Gatto who begin the story under Plato, through to Spinoza and the Prussian methodology of schooling (as adopted by the post Meiji Japan period) and through to Reagan’s America and Thatcher’s UK. Marmite notwithstanding there are some excellent interviews of Charlotte and John on Youtube but it takes a few hours if not a couple of days before the reasonably intelligent observer concludes something along the lines of ‘dang, they really want us to be cubicle workers, borrowing holographic money, reliant on consciousness dumbing pharmaceuticals and junk diets and mostly concerned with banded consumer materialism and repeating the scientific materialism mantra of it’s a mechanical deterministic universe and we can do nothing about it. Now I know everyone has to make a living but everyone has a choice. Usually more than once a day but the individual knows this better than anyone. Schools of fish less so.

By the way I really liked the Dove Advertising and I think we can toss out a lot of so called beauty brands and champion different ways of looking at what makes humanity so special instead of the typical synthetic views of beauty found in the photoshop department on the ground floor of department stores.

Comment by Charles Frith

Very interesting Charles. That said, I don’t agree with the argument it is being done to keep society quiet, I believe it has much more to do with government quotas, income growth and attracting foreign students and companies.

Comment by Lee Hill

Oh, well said, sir!

Comment by Anne

Great response.

Comment by PonderThis1

Great read.

Reminded me, was drummed into me that I would fail in life, general view from most of my teachers apart from one, who said; ‘you should go to art school’ to Mr. Germaine I thank you.

Comment by Kevin Ferry

Great post Rob. Sir Ken Robinson will be proud. I agree with Dodds: Education is / should be about learning how to learn, and learning how to think.

Comment by fredrik sarnblad

I should point put that education hasn’t done me any good and would now leave it at 18 if I were able to start again.

Comment by John

Reblogged this on Under Darkened Skies and commented:
Too True!

Comment by mw5868

I was born with PDD-NOS, a condition similar to autism. Because of this, most people would assume that I might not ever get to where I am today. But with tutoring, plenty of patience, and a whole lot of work, I’m finishing my second year of college with a 3.2 GPA, I’m publishing a collection of short stories, and I’m working on two novels while working two part-time jobs for the summer. If I can do all that, who’s to say supposedly “average” students can’t do better?

Comment by rami ungar the writer

There is actually a great deal of evidence that indicates average and low-performing children do better in heterogeneous groups. (High-performing children are the only ones who do better when split off from others). But we persist in doing it.

Although I agree with the major concerns stated in your post, the premise is demonstrably false. Education was much more elitist, segregated, constricted, and unimaginative in Einstein’s day than it is now. There is an unfortunate habit of assuming things were better at some past point. That’s rarely true. It is not the case in education, although there tends to be a pendulum swing in education between a focus on skills/knowledge and a focus on thinking and imagination.

Comment by Ashana M

I don’t think I totally agree. There is also an unfortunate habit to try and compare the past and the present and ignore changes in context, structure and culture. Sure, the past was also full of elitism – for example university was for the truly smart or truly wealthy – but I’m not evaluating modern schooling under that criteria, I’m saying, there is seemingly an attitude that pace of learning implies place in society which means children are being penalized even earlier these days which means potential may never get realized because of a focus on grades, not learning.

Thanks for commenting though.

Comment by Rob

The education my parents and grandparents received was entirely about rote and repetition. That is the kind of thing I mean. Learning meant recitation and parroting the teacher. That is the kind of thing I mean. Concern with creativity and critical thinking really only came with my generation. We are actually much better at it now than we ever have been before. But our memories are incredibly short. That is not to say we are doing it well, but it doesn’t make sense to compare it to a past when schooling for ordinary people would be, by our standards, entirely barbaric. A focus on grades at the expense of learning is nothing new in this country.

Comment by Ashana M

Of course there are differences in education approach over the years and decades … and the point about Einstien was merely to exaggerate the point … but I disagree that we are teaching creativity in modern education. There might be some classes “dedicated” to it but the whole infrastructure of school and society (in many countries) has been set up to devalue it … preferring to promote grades and rationality which is why I absolutely believe there is too much of a segregation in modern schooling for kids today.

Have you seen Sir Ken Robinson’s speech on TedTalks about schools killing creativity? It’s very good.

At the end of the day, this is not me trying to convince you – or others – to change your mind, it’s how I feel based on how I experienced my education and fortunately for me, I had parents and a couple of excellent teachers who understood pace did not equate to place.

Comment by Rob

At my school, the sets (class’, or groups) that you’re put in depend alot on your target grade. These target grades are based partly on the grades you got at the age of around 8 or 9, in what estate/village you live in, and how much money your parents earn.
If your parents earn less, you are likely to have a lower target grade, and are likely to be put in a lower set.
I don’t understand why they base things on that.

Comment by billierard

The schools I’m familiar with are attempting to increase integration of special needs students with the rest of the students. Einstein shows signs that maybe he had Asperger’s. Had he lived in the 21st century United States, he could have been diagnosed and been given aid to help him be successful in a classroom.

Comment by vaughtgn

Reblogged this on Sajie27.

Comment by sajie27

Einstein actually did well in school all his life.

Comment by Sam

Hi Sam, thanks for commenting. Without doubt, Einsteien did well in some subjects – excelling in things like physics – but to say he did well at school all his life isn’t correct because in many criteria, he failed to reach the minimum level of standard required by the class he was attending.

Comment by Rob

It is the way everything in society has been structured . School to job . Friendship to relationship . Past to present and the future . However your parents taught it wisely . If you want to have something . You must try for it irrespective of the grades. Effort is all you can do while the results you can’t really do much about them. Important is to learn to have satisfaction . This should be taught to kids amid the competition and segregation . It’s a pitty the division of kids into good and average . The idea should be to eradicate good and average , have patience while the kid realizes what is he/she good for and not the average .

Comment by snandan

@The World Would Never Benefit From Einstein’s Genius If He Was Born Today …>>I co-sign and approve of this message!!! Quite a bit ago I encountered a teacher/system that wanted to DENY my son of the very thing you’re speaking on..A chance to excel. A chance to elevate to a level he was capable of. A chance to take advanced/honor classes in a program designed for students who were bored in class; at their grade level. Reason why he was bored? He was so far ahead of the class ; he had time to move forward (on his own) and twiddle his thumbs. I requested of his teacher to recommend him for Gate classes(advanced) She flatly refused..She put up such a fight(while belittling my son in class) that I had the fight of my life; fighting for my son’s chance to what he deserved. And all I was asking for? A chance for him to take the Gate class to be placed in the program…After a battle with a demon from Hell; he took the test. He not only blew the test out of the water score wise; he was also advanced an entire grade . After that? I enrolled him in school every single summer; so he was never without a long break in studies. He’s always been honor roll and an over achiever. May 2014 he will attain his PHD from a very highly ranked University in Michigan. He’ll be the first in our family, on both sides, to receive his Doctorate. Note to parents: NEVER let someone deny your child’s right to an education. Teachers in a public education system are not parents. Parents working with teachers is the only way to guarantee or afford your child; the chance to mayhaps be the next Einstein…

*For the author of this post. Outstanding write that I hope makes folks out there..think. 2 thumbs UP

Comment by bernasvibe

I’ve felt for awhile that perhaps a good approach to education is one that is led by the individual student- at their pace and where topics of their interest is integrated into each lesson. I’d love to find something like that for our daughter when it comes time.
Thanks for sharing!

Comment by The Lily and The Marrow

Nicely said

Comment by Susan Sassi

I don’t know about Singapore… but Germany is pretty harsh in this respect, too. They segregate and stream from a very early age. This produces excellently trained monkeys who perform their specific jobs very well, but kids who don’t tick the right combination of boxes get a rough deal. Needless to say, I did not have a very good time 😉
But don’t wait for me to come up with cold fusion, I can barely get a bowl of porridge to the right consistency.

Comment by ladyofthecakes

Who are all these new commentators? What are they doing with all their serious comments? Don’t they know this blog isn’t for that? Rob. What have you done?

Comment by DH

I don’t know Dave, it’s very strange and I’m not quite sure if I like it.

Comment by Pete

Potential doesn’t always come from learning. And segregating children at such a young age (actually any age) contributes to a caste system. Maybe not now, but in the near future. We have a caste system in America, its called being rich enough to afford a decent college.

Comment by thepressurevalve59

Many teachers have only one teaching style, and they expect all of the children to learn in the same way. Maybe the only way they know… their way.
I was always terrible in math. A lot of the symbols and concepts, I just didn’t understand.
In 2nd grade, I was taught that a quarter was 25 cents. Then, the very next day, the teacher said that a quarter after 10 was 10:15. That made no sense to me, because I had just learned that a quarter was 25 (not 15).
When I insisted that quarter after 10 should be 10:25, the teacher did not ask how I came to that conclusion. She just yelled at me for not listening and belittled me. This happened on many occasions, so over time, I learned to fear and hate math.
For many years, I thought I was stupid.
But then one day (in college), a math professor took me to the side and asked me to explain my answers (mostly wrong) on a math test. After she listened to me, she said, “Oh. Now I see the problem. When I explained these symbols, you misunderstood my words. I see I have to choose my words carefully because you are taking them literally! Let me try a different explanation, and then let’s see if we can apply it to the symbols.
When she came to where I was and unveiled the meaning of the symbols, I finally understood. She didn’t expect me to find her, because I was the one who didn’t know the way. She knew her subject so thoroughly that she could teach math from any direction, without getting confused or annoyed at a questioning student. That professor was a GREAT teacher. I passed with flying colors. Turns out, I wasn’t a “failure” after all.

Comment by Mary Strong-Spaid

You are totally right. I recently heard a story from a friend. A mother of two, started shouting at her kids playing football with a smaller kid “you better beat that kid! I’m paying so much for your training, you should give 110% for every game you play … ”
I would say be a Guide but NOT a Dictator for children.

Comment by Through Vin's Lens

I totally agree with you. Some kids are late bloomers or do better in one subject than in another. That’s no reason to limit them for the rest of their lives.

Comment by My Camera, My Friend

I could not agree with you more. Good article. It’s been said that education is the new caste system. Degree is equivalent to access to better knowledge, but often does not mean creativity or individual thinking- it means conforming and having access to the funds to pay for your degree.

Comment by Hitchiking Colorado

You know something is wrong with government-funded education when most research findings are demonstrably false–e.g., Google: Dr. Ioannidis, Atlantic and David Freedman.

Comment by Wagathon

I so agree, students are pressured not for learning but for scoring, not much long term perspective – being herded in categories is also another new norm wherein we are just typecasting the kids of today.
excellent post. congratulations!

Comment by moodsnmoments

Reblogged this on Jewel James and commented:
Just what I have been planning to tel..

Comment by jeweljames11

Interesting post, congratulations on being freshly pressed.

My thoughts in no particular order…

North America can’t even begin to compare itself with China or Japan. Students in those countries are funneled, filtered, and pressured in ways that would make our educational system look like a field trip. That said; North America funnels and filters for more insidious reasons. I’m Canadian so thankfully escaped the funding based on performance debacle plaguing America.

When in grade three, (late sixties) the school board launched an “experimental” program. They gave all grade 3 students a standard IQ test. Those scoring the highest were taken out of the regular school system and sent to the “major works” school. I spent grades 4 – 7 in that place, instructed to learn what I wanted. I spent those years reading books, missed basic math, science, and grammar lessons – a resounding failure, the program was cancelled – all students entered high school struggling to catch up.

The high school my children attended averaged around 3000 students. All but 3 – 4 hundred each year were Asian, mostly from China, almost all without English as a first language. Many students were in Canada without their parents – sent to gain a western education and access to western universities. Services sprung up catering to their needs; everything from laundry and grocery services to homework clubs. It reached a point where families (Asian) who wanted their children to learn English pulled their kids from the school, sending them to more balanced, less affluent schools where kids did their own homework in English. Truly strange

Canada has 2 official languages – english and french.The fact that there are waiting lists to get into Mandarin or Cantonese classes speaks volumes for a wacky system. 🙂

Comment by Notes To Ponder

I taught bilingual classes and found that my Asian students did far better than my regular students. I told my regular students that one day when my Cambodian and Vietnamese students are taking their jobs, they’ll scream discrimination and affirmative action when in fact they worked harder. There response? “Yeah, but nobody likes them.”

Comment by Duke Pasquini

I’m not a complete cynic of the system although you do make somevery valid points here. I do believe that these groups can also aid in encouraging a child to want to do well, as they may want to ‘move groups’ which ultimately leads to them working hard, getting good grades and gaining lifelong skills. But when saying this I am aware of a childs individualism and that this technique and system will not benefit every child and may in some cases be detrimental, as you say, to their outlook on life.

Comment by jodieneville

📌Great writing, and I can really see what you’re getting at! I can mostly really see both ways of it, though.

Comment by Charlotte

Come to think of it,many of the points above are completely true.

Comment by Charlotte

Can any of the regular Rob commentators explain what has happened on here in the last 24 hours. It is insane.

Comment by George

There’s a wordpress logo that’s magically appeared on the right hand column so I’m guessing it has to do with that. Good job Andy’s on holiday, he’d have an aneurism if he saw this. I just feel sick.

Comment by DH

Couldn’t agree with you more. I would like to quote an incident from my own school life. My school arranged for special classes to train the kids who failed the pre-final exams. While making a list of their names, my class teacher actually called out like this, ‘Failures please write you name in the list’. And every time they addressed the kids as ‘failures’. It was outrageous. They teach about equality and everything in the classroom but practice some opposite. Irony !

Comment by vandysnape

Reblogged this on bizmtaani.

Comment by thekendoe

One of my ways to teach my Freshman Comp students to learn was to show examples of etymology searching and then expect them to do six or more words each week on ttheir own.

Comment by aslak122

You have my thought. And the title of this post is just so true and real.

Comment by Himani Gupta

I don’t know if I agree with you on this, I think that the world would have openly benefited if Einstein was born today. Sorry!

Comment by segmation

I wonder if the people commenting solely about Einstein have read the post or are purely making comments based on the headline. I’m certain they have not read the comments because if they had, they would know Robert acknowledged Einstein was not the best example to use in this post when John Dodds submitted some additional information on the academic achievements of young Albert.
Regardless, this is not a post about Einstein, it is about the values modern education institutions subscribe to and those who have not understood that have failed to appreciate the importance of reading before judging.

Comment by George

Well said George. Not reading the comments is scandalous. They’re the only reason to come here. As for the new plague of commentors who have ignored what Rob’s ranted about under the headline. They have a point. At least more than Rob ever manages.

He’s going to freak when he comes back from his holiday. That is if he has enough time to check this out before his next holiday.

Comment by DH

Good grief. This looks suspiciously like spamblogs reblogging this post. As for the comments just imagine what would have happened if Andy had not been on holiday.

Comment by John

He’s been through enough this year without having to deal with this.

Comment by DM

And now my computer makes me spell my name wrong. I don’t know what’s happening on here but it’s scary stuff.

Comment by DH

Good read. I do believe parenting and engaging in good developmental skills at a young age can set the standard. It has to start with good parents and not to resort to what the child will learn in school. It’s hard to come by time taken to approach a child in a direction that is in their best interest. Still we have to make it work. Schools will continue to do this because it is a more efficient way to reach the natural learning curve in individuals but I think you are implying things are just as bad here as they are in Asia and I don’t think they are. They’re worse. Our IQ sucks.

Comment by betiyo

I had remarkably average grades throughout school and did even worse in high school – though I did score very well on all the standardized tests. I dropped out of high school in my senior year, so I was not a poster child for life success. But 10 years after high school I earned a master degree, and I’m doing OK in this world.
Had I been judged and re-tracked as happens in some countries, I fear I would have been “encouraged” onto a very different, and much less interesting life.

Comment by Adventures in Kevin's World

Just get the one-size fits-all state dictates out of the way and quit interfering with the parents deciding their kids’ education. Home-schooling is the best, next best is private school. Let people have their natural freedom and you’ll be shocked at how well they do.. Ben Carson case in point..

Comment by trutherator

This was a really interesting comment. People develop differently and can excel at various ages. This year’s ‘average’ pupil may excel next year but ONLY if they are given the opportunity.

Very well written too. You might enjoy my blog: The latest post is a tongue-in-cheek assessment of scientific acheivements.

Comment by MattinValencia

They have been doing this in Europe for years. Especially in Holland and Germany, many kids are ‘filtered’ or rather “track” them through examinations. Some kids become doctors, others are “tracked” into other fields based on testing. They do not really have a ‘free’ educational system in a stricter sense.

Comment by The Blog Identity

I’m trying to figure out the connection with Einstein. He did fail Mathmatics. However, genius is something you can’t contain, it will come out regardless.

Comment by The Blog Identity

There does need to be higher level courses or advanced tracks for students who want them, but they should be available based on the students’ desires, not by the judgment of some fool reading a paperized child.

Genius is not genetic blessing. It’s drive, it’s effort. Students who work hard and WANT the higher level courses should be able to take them. It’s really disgusting when some pompous adult takes a momentary glance at a five-year old and declares their potential “limited” because they’re not dividing and multiplying years ahead of their level.

Filtering is a flawed system, because I would have been filtered into the advanced track and then busted. In eighth grade a professional group was doing a study and took IQ tests of students at my middle school. I rated 136, and scored so far off the charts on some tests that my testers told me I’m more like 146 IQ. These silly ivory tower heads would have deemed me “special”, despite the fact that I was lazy, insubordinate, immature, and unmotivated, and those negative attributes showed on my record. Meanwhile, someone with so called “normal” traits but loaded with drive and a will to succeed would have been denied…

…to make room for me….

I am learning what it means to work hard, to love working, and to have passion, but until I master those traits I don’t ever, ever want some stupid Ivory Tower head calling me a genius and that I’m special.

Spend a country’s resources on those who WANT to work hard. They are the real geniuses in life and the people who drive our country forward.

Personally, I’d always allow a student the opportunity to jump from the normal track to the advanced educational track, at every grade level, no matter what their record or perceived ability states. So long as they prove their desire and succeed at the advanced level, there’s no reason to get in their way or “project” their potential.

Comment by Gibble96

Who are you all? What are you doing on here? Get the fuck away before its too late.

Comment by Billy Whizz

Great post. I definitely agree with you that there is something very wrong with our modern education system, particularly as I have the pleasure of being subjected to it (albeit attending a very nice school).There will be students who end up being number one, and many who will not, but most five-year-olds don’t reflect their adult selves.

Comment by imagineastylishworld: Kat

Reblogged this on LeXie.

Comment by lexieaguillon

I’m a college student here in the Philippines, and I’m transferring to a University because the college that I was enrolled to last school year was investing on it’s buildings instead of educators (which were debatably horrible).

I think the education system now is being competent on the facilities instead of the character-building.

Comment by Sharpened Wit

I’m fifty-five, so my school years happened before all the fancy and fashionable concepts now tossed around to ruin the prospects of children. They did their best to shape my future by trying to shame me into working more diligently.

Always a terrible student, I was bored, continuously reminded that I wasn’t working up to my potential. In my mind, the classes weren’t in the least interesting, and I would rarely study more than necessary to pass an exam.

Fortunately for me, they didn’t kill my natural abilities and interests, as I went on to design IC’s (integrated circuits), a few of which are in satellites, and a couple in craft headed for the edge of the solar system. Went on to design devices for most industries.

Somehow, I succeeded despite their tests and early prognostications.

Because of that success, I was able to build an international company that grew to 3500 employees. A lot of people have been employed and earned good money because I wasn’t shuttled-off into some low-achiever program.

Don’t count anyone out of the running, and particularly not so early in life.

Comment by Richard McCargar

Yeah! I agree. If we regulate failures, we are also regulating brilliance and creativity. Every one of us has an equal chance of changing the world.

– knight of January

Comment by knightofjanuary

The problem is that children came before education system got evolved into what it is now,: duty is to learn theory, and keep your creativity as your hobby. Gladly, it´s changing, for example in Sweden there are schools who only teach children subjects they like and are naturally good in it with no need to be pushed to get good grades.

Comment by M.Borgarbúi

probably, life is just like that. It’s so sad that there is a segregation in education but I believe those who are labeled to be average or less are only challenge to keep striving and giving the best.

Comment by ellerj

love this post.. i definitely agree..

Comment by Mikayla Rumpf

Reblogged this on IN MY WALK OF LIFE and commented:
We are accepting a system that prejudices from the earliest age.

Comment by ojbrian

Reblogged this on Josh Rivera.

Comment by jrivera211

And still they keep coming.

No offense Rob, this post is good but it’s not as good as some of your others so this endless stream of new commentators is amusing and a bit disconcerting.

Comment by Pete

Thank you for all the comments, to be honest I’m a bit overwhelmed by it all … but seemingly not as overwhelmed as the people who have been commenting/abusing this blog for the past 7 years. Ha.

Comment by Rob

Do you think they’ve mistaken you for the Robert Campbell with the big ears?

Comment by mediacraftsman

They’ve certainly mistaken Rob for someone.

Comment by Bazza writes: Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed. I enjoyed reading your post and will spend some additional time on your blog in the hopes of experiencing some more of your talented and “authentic” voice. Thank you for sharing this with all of us. It was fabulous!

Comment by dmchale

I haven’t read all the comments but I’m guessing I won’t be the only regular scratching his head in shock.

Comment by Bazza

I started reading your post prepared to defend the changing world of education. A great shift has occurred in which children are provided opportunities to demonstrate higher level thinking. All children are pushed and challenged (in good schools by good teachers, but this change is widespread). However, I do see your point. My second oldest stepson is a smart kid. Give him a problem and he won’t quit until he solves it. But he’s suffered from ADHD. Most teachers can’t stand him. I know he’s difficult. But he’s been placed at the bottom of the barrel. He has low self esteem. I’ve been pushing him, reassuring him, emailing teachers and keeping up with his school. I know he can do it, despite the flawed system. And now, as a freshman in high school, he aspires to attend the Citadel as ROTC for Marine Corps. Each child deserves opportunities, even if they don’t test a certain way, learn a certain way, or develop by a certain pace.

Comment by kzahm

I agree with you there! In the UK you do a test when you’re 11 to see who goes to grammar schools (the supposedly better schools) and who goes to secondary schools. I think that instead of focusing on the smarter pupils, they should put in a bit of effort to help the others to get up to their standard!

Comment by LucyBre

Making the 100th comment on this post brings with it a great responsibility, so I’m going to quickly glance at the headline and use it to justify rambling on about my unrelated prejudices. Hope that’s OK with everyone.

Comment by John

Thank you for this post. I have a son I now must share this with. I so appreciate it.

Comment by David J. Bauman

I’ve just come back and seen this.

I think I need a cup of coffee to make sure it’s not jetlag or the final effects of my good poisoning.

Thank you in advance for all whose written, I’m sure whatever’s been said, it can’t be worse than the normal comments written on here.

Comment by Rob

I am enjoying this immensely

Comment by Northern

The real test will be when Rob posts something new. If they start commenting on those, we’re doomed. But then so will they.

Comment by DH

All of what you say is sadly true. What’s terrible is that in America we only are talking about the crisis of education in terms of employability when leaving college. We seem to fully have accepted the model of education as a for-profit business that primarily exists for credentialing. Education does exist to equip and discipline a labor force and to provide a social environment for tomorrow’s aristocrats to exchange business cards, and our schools should reflect that truth.

Comment by History of Capitalism

Public schools are in the grips of Big INC which is also moving into the private schools, all to clone the education sector into a farm system to raise suitable working stock to be herded to market.

All this accelerated when the Japanese started building better cars than Americans and were typically “better” engineering students. American business “leaders” suddenly had a major inferiority complex going, and the above/\ is the net result.

Facts are, no matter how far you go back, most of your great inventors were inveterate tinkerers poorly suited for stultifying, mind numbing work or higher academia, AKA Einstein who was quite fortunate to be at the right place at the right time. Could have easily been born later in life to be herded into concentration camps to be lost forever as could any of us.

Americans are the lucky ones, always getting to vote for republicans and democrats who start new wars for their parties to feather their nests in their never ending game of dividing up the spoils.

Who to thank?

Comment by roberto00

It seems to be typically American to ignore what is working and start tinkering with it. You find that with computer programs. A company will take something that works well and every loves and change it so it’s worse. Of course much of it is about making money. Programs are redone so people will put out the money to get the new thing. So in a way, the money motive can sometimes make things worse instead of better.

I love how the politicians cut education spending while at the same time creating school programs that stifle creativity. Education in this country has never been equal, but at least we used to encourage kids to be creative and try new things and new ideas.

Now, we want everyone to think alike. People don’t even discuss politics anymore because they are so stuck in their beliefs. How can such a society become better? I love to tell my friends who refuse to discuss politics or religion or any controversial subject, what’s the sense of having freedom of speech if we don’t use it?

Comment by Duke Pasquini

We seem to flip flop between an education system which ‘nurtures’ and thereby drops everyone to the same level of mediocrity….remember the bizarre circumstances where during sports day, some schools in the UK actively pursued the policy of not having a winner at all….and active streaming which takes place in Singapore, my home, where its not individual subject excellence that’s required but rather excellence in a broad range of subjects including maths, science, English and interestingly, one additional language. Hence you find some incredibly talented and artistic students in the bottom set because their maths is not up to the standard required. Neither approach is appropriate for preparing children for the world they will go into…

For me, the key point is one which Ken Robinson has made as often as he gets the chance to(!) School is the only situation in life where humans are managed on a batch system basis…ie the class of 2001 / 2002 etc. In all other walks of life, we operate on success or failure…these are the criteria that decide our fortune. The obsession with graduating from each stage of school with ones peer group is driven as much by parents as it is by teachers. Given the fact that our children are going to be working until they are 70 and above, and that they are therefore likely to have at least 4 or 5 ‘careers’, does leaving school a year or two later make any difference? I don’t think so….only with an acceptance that this is not a stigma but rather a reflection that humans don’t learn in a linear fashion but on a non-linear basis, will this batch approach change.

As I write this, I’m thinking about my potential reaction to one of my children being left back a year….it’s not an easy pill to swallow but you know what…beyond the initial embarrassment factor and a need to truly support the child through the process, it is something that we can all do and should indeed do as responsible parents if necessary.

Comment by bendehaldevang

I stayed back in the second grade and it was the best thing that ever happened to me. You’re right, it did hurt at the time, but I was soon over it and finally able to do the work which led to my being able to get into college and graduate. I don’t think it would have happened if I hadn’t stayed back.

Comment by Duke Pasquini

Very true. Many more inventions world make d world scientific.

Comment by wonderland1596

When I was growing up in Russia the psychologist picked out the leaders from the class; then she organized a variety of interesting and fun activities for only those people. I still think that it was wrong since I believe that you don’t have to be born as leader. Surely being a leader is part of personality but I also believe that any person is able to acquire leadership skills.

Comment by Yelena

Actually, we have been spending less and less on education, so schools are fighting over less and less money. Coke, Pepsi, potato chip companies et al have come into our schools to help them raise money that should rightly becoming from the American people. It’s almost as if these companies created the financial crisis so they could come into our schools and help them raise money, provide score boards with their ads on them etc. and of course make a huge profit.

Europe doesn’t start filtering until a child is around 12 or 13, but at least they provide a trade school or some type of education that will give them a skill.

We’ve been cutting school budgets in this country for years and a lot of shop class and homemaking classes don’t exist anymore. It’s all academic classes and of course sports. I’m a coach and teacher and believe sports can play a big part in the life of the school whether you play or not, but wood shop, metal shop, auto shop, and homemaking, provide a broader range of students access to important skills. After all, we will always need plumbers, garbage collectors, auto mechanics, carpenters, etc., and as long as we consider all work honorable, then it shouldn’t make any difference.

If you don’t work in this country, you are looked down upon, so having a job is important. If you have a chance, check out This American Life on NPR for a segment called Going-Big. It is about a program called Baby College. It’s an eye opener. Here’s the link

Comment by Duke Pasquini

Reblogged this on esquareblog.

Comment by junaidrpk

Reblogged this on youngestrichkid's Blog.

Comment by youngestrichkid

Sociology classifies schools an an institution. The purpose of institutions is to pass on the cultural values of a society. Yes, they also make it possible for students to function as adults in that culture. What I find fascinating is that the No Child Left Behind act didn’t bother to put history into the mix. After all, “Those who do not learn from the past, are doomed to repeat it.”

Comment by Duke Pasquini

Reblogged this on By the Mighty Mumford and commented:

Comment by Jonathan Caswell

Reblogged this on अशंक्य (Ashankya).

Comment by ashankya

what the fuck is going on? who the fuck are you? why the fuck are you wasting your lives on here? are you all prisoners and this is part of your fucking punishment. there is no reason to be here, get the fuck away. campbell is not worth commenting on unless youre the fashion police and then thats only to pass fucking sentence on crimes to eyesight.

Comment by andy@cynic

We are saved.

Comment by Billy Whizz


Comment by toto

I’m very much against the education system but very much in favor of a life of learning. People learn for all the wrong reasons these days. I just dropped out of college because I was disgusted with where it was taking me and where it is taking the rest of our society. Good post!

Comment by carrickjason

This is so true. And in India, it is truest.
I have seen such a thing, Lived it. People are segregated on the basis of their “intellect”, and then taught differently. Here in India, people literally worship marks and scores, they have almost nothing to do with real knowledge of the real world that they live in. If a person scores good, he is the god. And if he doesn’t, well then he is loser and a burden. Oh god, i literally die inside when i experience such things happening around me. How worse can it get than this, where there is no respect for real education, where all schooling has become is a business where people want to see themselves profit!
I pity wherever such attitude is taking us!

Comment by Shruti Trivedi

Agree that selection in the classroom into groups is a very bad idea – kids are sensitised to what are really quite small differences. A teacher I know says it actively discourages the ‘slower’ pupils and creates a self-fulfilling prophecy . An environment conducive to learning will allow all children to grow but I feel sometimes some teachers want to sift out a few trophies and just do the bare minimum with the rest. The theory side of teacher training is a bit worrying too with ‘differentiation’ a buzz word. It has unintended consequences and I suspect implicated in poor literacy being seen as a problem in recent years in UK. Good debate, thank you

Comment by Roberta McDonnell

I appreciate this perspective… I am preschool teacher and am all about nurture and growing the child to be the best that they are… To recognize their strengths and own their learning style… This seems to be met at times with coldness and a lack of nurture as they enter school and instead of having the opportunity to grow and learn as they would best, educators decide how they will learn and the beautiful growth that child had embraced is traded in for someone else’s convenience…

Comment by what's that shiny thing

nice post!

Comment by Kai East

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