Dr. J.’s seeing a new trend in elementary and intermediate education at independent schools, and it is not what you would expect.
It was ‘Meet the Witches Night’ at the New Atlantis Bene Gesserit Chapterhouse last night, and Dr. J. enjoyed a 60 minute whirlwind tour of the Lil Resident’s day at the Chapterhouse, sans #spawater. Sorry Marie!
|A typical day at the Bene Gesserit Academy|
There was a theme running through the teachers’s presentations, which was that they want to push the young ladies hard, and they want to see them occasionally stumble, meaning that they don’t want them to understand how to do every problem at first, and on their own. The mathematics teacher was particularly emphatic on this point in that when the students have trouble getting the answer to a problem, or when they get it wrong in a way that is consistent with one or two of their classmates, it can be a springboard for teaching them where their mistake was and how that mistake won’t be made again in the future.
For example, the grading system for homework and problem sets and the low weight of many quizzes creates a safety net such that every young lady does not have to fear that her semester grade is in jeopardy if she tanks a single quiz, or gets one or two math problems wrong. Indeed, Reverend Mother Anruil told Dr. J. last night that rather than his typical use of the Socratic method and working through alternate examples with the Lil Resident when she runs into a bump in the road, such that she can solve the problem for Thursday before coming in, she would rather Dr. J. drop her off early and let the Lil Resident work through it with the Reverend Mother before class.
|There are a lot of helicopter parents. Dr. J. is a gunship.|
The middle school, they explain is the place for the young ladies to safely stumble, and fall and most importantly to pick themselves up again. It is the confidence they gain, dusting themselves off, that helps the to handle adversity independently in the future when the enter high school.
This is advice that is hard for the typical helicopter parent to hear. High stakes parenting has been the norm for a couple of decades now as parents have multiple tutors for their kid, they’ve routinely hovered over and checked the accuracy of their homework, and as a consequence there is an entire half-generation of Gen-Xers called Gen-Y. They’re the John Hurt ‘Doctor’ of the Gen-Xers, the one we’ve denied exists and is part of us. They are also called GYPSYs and they are so overseen, overcoached, and overmarketed by parents, tutors and college-marketing consultants that they can’t cope with a bad grade on their own. The reason for this is that parents fear that any misstep will cost their child admission to The College Of Their Choice™ University.
|Why do we fall down, Bruce? It’s so we can learn to pick ourselves up again…|
Indeed, Dr. J. was a second teacher to the Lil Resident last year as she prepped for her ISEE exam to apply to the Chapterhouse, so he knows of what he speaks with regard to the difficulty of letting go. He’s been successful thus far. She’s only asked the occasional question, however she does still rely on him for ‘drilling’ as that helps her with vocabulary and certain elements of geography. But he has no idea what the heck she’s doing in reading, or, to be honest, math, except what she shares at the dinner table, and when she brings graded quizzes and tests home.
So far she’s been a tremendous success, so he isn’t going to mess with it. There must be something in the water there, right Marie?
But the Lil Resident is not alone. The Jedi Academy has also worked to create an academically safe environment for the younglings to stumble without completely jeopardizing their academic futures. The philosophy which included homework graded for completeness and turning in on time in 4th grade with the meat of the grades based on test and quiz scores so that the parents will let the kids do the homework on their own has extended beyond the three R’s in the lower school. We had an impromptu conference with the Lil Medstudent’s teacher has he’s been known to get into mischief in school, especially with two of his equally impish classmates who are more stealthy in their ways than he.
|Lil Medstudent (second from right) with Thing 1, Thing 2 and a couple of others.|
At the meeting today, I suggested to Master Luminara, his teacher, that the Lil Medstudent, Thing 1 and Thing 2 never sit next to each other in class, and never be in line next to each other. That might reduce the opportunities for them to misbehave. She looked at me and said, “No, no, by doing that, I take the opportunity away from them to learn to behave in each other’s company. That, in the long run is the more valuable skill, worth a few extra demerits this year.”
So, you can see, the future is appearing a little brighter as Gen X educators are melting precious snowflakes, disarming helicopter parents, and giving our children the skills necessary accept the consequences of and learn from their mistakes rather than to pretend that mistakes never happen, or that every quiz and every homework assignment is a high stakes event.
Dr. J. suspects that this will trickle into the good public schools soon, as well.