Inspired by Stephen Collins post Connect.ed
Once upon a time there was a boy.....
He was the usual sort of boy - gregarious, funny, busy, heavily into constructing things and with a few weird and wonderful passions... e.g bouncing in a tiggerish fashion, assisting a family friend construct dry ice and plastic bombs for launch at remote campsites, snorkelling and collecting rocks...
He had a big heart and a big head and was fascinated by the world he lived in...
Then he went to school.
Fun, fun, explore my world, get excited, move around, touch stuff, experiment - ooooo yes, education is FUN.
Being into stuff that other people don't like is uncool.
Small sparkly boy is date stamped and filed according to production date.
He protests that he was quite happy playing, but is assured that it's time to start 'real EJUCATION'.
Sparkly boy hates drawing 'things', but loves drawing how things happen - he creates reams of complex mono-coloured action pictures. Ask him what they are and he produces lengthy intricate stories.
Unfortunately they do not make the classroom look like a warm inviting place to attract future business, oh and the portfolio looks ugly. The work is sent home without dignity.
He loves to describe things, but unfortunately describing is not recognised as intelligence, and instead he must INVENT stories. The sparkle begins to fade.
The wild imagination which creates such complex images, stories, songs and machines is becoming a problem. If you can't fill in worksheets then you can't be intelligent. As a result, the small sparkly boy escapes to more interesting places in his imagination.
He is officially becoming a 'problem'.
Small aside - get a coffee or alcoholic beverage while the progress of EJUCATION is put on hold.
The boy's parents concerned with the loss of sparkle are told that "school is a sausage factory, you either learn to fit in or you fail". We have too many kids to look after to give individual treatment to those who won't fit in.
Small interplanetary war breaks out at home.....
Parents, who are accustomed to 'not fitting in' and who make very good livings out of precisely this problem decide to fight...
Testing occurs, and small, no-longer sparkly boy does extremely well, well enough to catch the eye of the school.
Sparkly boy returns during school holidays. So Year 4 commences with hope.
Angry alien parents "INFORMED" that sparkly boy is eligible for gifted education - but there's a small problem..Disorganisation. It is apparently impossible to be intelligent without being super organised, being able to multi-task, track multiple subject areas, and reference officially.
Alien P's acknowledge fact that above guidelines define them as non-intelligent. With the gifted planet somewhere over there, it's back to the worksheets.
Coffee Break again - you will need caffeine for this next stage
The sparkle has gone. The not-quite-so-small boy is dusty and a bit dishevelled. FINALLY planet education decides that the Alien P's should get once sparkly boy tested by an Educational Psychologist - which of course they do at vast expense as it is not covered by the school.
I'd like to summarise...
One small sparkly boy of above average intelligence
Capable of producing a podcast, orchestrating a song in Garage Band, and fascinated by the solar system as viewed on Google Earth, but driven insane by worksheets
Intelligent, creative and exicted by the world
How many other small sparkly boys (and girls)are there with wonderful untapped intelligence and creativity - many of us have been inspired by speakers such as Ken Robinson of the moves towards creative intelligence.
Many of us are involved in this wonderful creative, innovative hyperconnectivity. And yet, in many schools, time stands still.
How long will it be before we recognise that great teachers are not produced by academic study but by the love of subject they are passionate about, and great connected skills.
The Happy Ending
JOHN MARSDEN: The idea of engaging with intellectual and challenging topics and ideas and questions is good. If we start from those principles, then it becomes much easier to get a sense of how a school should function. You start to realise that there shouldn't be a kind of enmity between adults and young people, there should be a wonderful alliance, where we're all moving creatively towards understanding things in as profound a way as possible.
By learning to build bridges he is able to use his intelligence and skills to connect people. The world is once again an intriguing and fascinating place. He has confidence in his ability to make a difference. He feels his own place in the world and works collaboratively on issues which he feels are important to his world and himself.
His adventures and his risks are real, exciting and relate to the future he is constructing for himself. He is too busy living to get involved in self destructive behaviour... he has a world to explore.
The Un-Happy Ending
The sparkly boy continues to hate school. He is almost never sparkly any more. He begins to believe that he IS a failure. He becomes angry, bitter, disillusioned and bored. He distrusts people, and as a result they distrust him. He medicates with alcohol and perhaps some drugs now and again to revisit the magic he used to feel. If he's lucky he meets someone who can show him other ways to live, but it's a long hard slog.
I agree with Stephen Collins, we have a voice AND a responsibility. I can no longer sit back and trust that weak minded politicians and entrenched old school values will qualify people to create the world I want my kids to be part of. What shall we do - and can we start it now?! Please.