Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Are Children Valuable People? Who is Allowed to Waste Their Time?
Way back in the olden days, I took a series of tests. In fact, I was taken out of class regularly to do a lot of tests. For months. The tests were to find out if I should skip a grade. Isn't that the coolest, aren't I amazing? I was in 4th grade. The lowest placement on the tests was grade 8 math, because I didn't have any idea what algebra was. The average placement was university, second year. Clearly, skipping a grade was going to be pointless, to say the least.

Spin forward a lot of years... until quite recently, actually. When a person is thoroughly indoctrinated into some idea by true cultural cohesiveness surrounding it, sometimes it takes a really long time to see through it. Or, rather -- gee for someone supposedly smart, it took me a long time to twig to this...

I had essentially finished high school and first year university when I was 9, except I dipped the math.
Now, here's the funny part. Or, rather the part that I've only recently stopped gritting my teeth about: 
since it was pointless to move up a year, and it's completely acceptable to waste any child's time, I got to do the next 8 years anyhow
Nope, I haven't stopped gritting my teeth about that. It still makes me really, really mad.

Now, check your response to that: a 9-year-old challenged and passed the exams to complete first year university, what should that child do tomorrow? Oh, just finish the rest of grade 4. 

Perhaps upon consideration, that's a bit silly. 

But, what, then?

Too young to go to university, obviously (is that really that obvious? Or is it just a really, really ordinary way of thinking about something we simply do not think about much?) 

Certainly can't just 'hang out' -- imagine the dangers to society, having unemployed children out wandering around after they've finished learning everything the schools hope to teach... yeah. Imagine.

Can't work (there are laws about interfering with a child's...uh... education.... um.)

It is acceptable in our society to waste a child's life any way any authority happens to see fit, and this is the perfect example: 9 years old, already done everything (except math) that will be required for the next 8 or 9 years, and, well... who cares? 

It's not as if a child has anything valuable to do with her time.
It isn't like the child's life is valued.
This is the most pervasive form of de-humanizing discrimination in our society today.

Virtually no one will speak up against boring teachers, boring or outdated coursework, poor textbooks, unnecessarily repetitive tasks, waiting around for 6 years while the rest of the class fails to catch up, or spending 13 years floundering over their heads with material they may never understand... 
Because even if it is a total waste of time, so what?
Children aren't important enough to don't have anything important to do.
Imagine a doctor, who'd passed every test and licence exam, being required to continue taking the classes that were designed to help her pass the exams, for an additional 9 years, because she wasn't 37 yet. 

What does 37 have to do with it?


What does 18 have to do with it? More to the point, what on earth does being 9 have to do with it?