Every once and awhile, I happen upon a book that changes my mind dramatically—that changes my viewpoint so much that I see life through a new lens. Real Education is such a book. It takes such a stark departure from America’s traditional view of education, that I was hungry to read and read and underline and reread, to grasp it so I could make changes accordingly.
Real Education declares, and proves with research studies and statistics, that:
1) Ability and intelligence varies
Although the idea of “no child left behind” may seem compassionate, the truth is that each of us is unique and vary greatly in our intelligence level. And there are several measurable forms of intelligence, from mechanical ability to mathematical reasoning to social skills. But we are not all equally endowed—by any stretch of the imagination.
I cannot sing while my husband has a wonderful voice. That is just a fact. We seem to be able to accept differences in talent as expected, but we have bought the lie that we are capable of “leaving no child behind”. Which is impossible. Those blessed with high intelligence will always leave the rest behind. That is their gift, and if they use it to bless mankind, all the better for everyone! If Einstein had to wait for the rest of us, we would all be living in a much less scientifically advanced world.
2) Half of us are below average intelligence
I guess that is obvious, since the definition of average is right smack in the middle. Which means that 50% are smarter than average and 50% are lower than average intelligence. Yet we seem to think it is our task to bring every child, including our own, “up to grade level”. Our true challenge is to give our kids every opportunity, and help them progress in the areas in which they excel, and find their place—rather than encourage them falsely by telling those who are not gifted with high intelligence that if they just try harder, study more, and apply themselves, that they can become a doctor, lawyer or Indian chief.
3) Too many people are going to college
It was shocking to me to read the statistics and realize that most students graduating from high school would do better gaining skills in a different setting than a 4 year college. Based on SAT scores, about 90% of graduating seniors will not do well enough in college to gain the skills they need to make a good living and contribute to society from taking the costly and lengthy college route. We seem to look only one direction—towards college—thinking that will transform ordinary students into “college graduates”. So many cannot get jobs, even with a college education. But the statistics prove that there are many who are mechanically gifted who would be much happier and earn more money becoming a car mechanic or a computer repairman, for example, and yet they are urged to trudge through 4 years of college and get a BA degree. It seems to go quite against the grain of American thought to realize that the majority of students would do better taking an alternate route to gain marketable skills.
I can see why the Washington Times reports that Real Education “takes a moral sledgehammer to our one-size-fits-all education mind-set”. The New York Times claims it is “the most talked-about education book this semester”.
4) America’s future depends on how we educate the gifted
The gifted, those with high intelligence in the mathematical, science and thinking skills realm, have the potential to change everyone’s life. And those with truly exceptional intelligence can benefit mankind dramatically, given the opportunity. Where would we be without Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, and Henry Ford? In the dark, with no phone, and no car. If you have a gifted child living in your home, you may be homeschooling because you recognize that your child needs an opportunity to soar. American schooling, by trying to make sure nobody falls behind, also prevents those who would leap forward. In order for the gifted to excel, there must be high expectations and excellent training for those who have the intelligence to go far beyond the norm.
It is hard to let go of deeply entrenched cultural values, such as “every child should go to college” but it is so exhilarating to see clearly, and make decisions based on fact, not wishing. Take time to read Real Education. Especially if you care about education, your children, and America. It will change how you think, for the better!