Friday, May 18, 2012

Young Writer Slams Schools ... Nicholas Nickleby Part 2

This one really scares me.  You have a very successful fifteen year old writer who is writing a story about how bad schools are today  Not just one class or one teacher, but the entire system.  I know many of the better students in K-12 today sometimes find themselves in a class that is completely unproductive for them, but the fact that he is speaking against the entire system and not just one teacher makes me wonder what teaching to the test is doing to our culture.  Does he ever get to just write in school? When did he write Truancy and Origins? Was it all in his spare time? Isn't there a classroom in the school that chills him out? Some safe haven where his mind escapes to word play and storylines? Or has NCLB or Nickleby as I like to call it, completely ruined a chance for an exceptional creative writer to write.

Dickens calls out the education system in Nicholas Nickleby,  Fukui calls them out again today.  What changes would Fukui make to the school day?  What could make a school day worthwhile to him?

As a teacher, I know that schools need to continue to improve.  Legislation seems like a great way to go about creating structures for students to succeed.  But all schools and all students are not equal and designing curriculum around every student turning into a doctor is a poor direction to aim for.  Not all students can become doctors, not because of lack of effort or intelligence, but because there simply aren't enough positions available.  And so laws and teaching to the test muddle the pursuit of creating a school that allows each of our students to grow and mature intellectually and as people.  I've loved my organic chemistry and differential equations classes, I'm not saying we dumb things down, but we need to create additional pathways to success.  Not everyone needs to know how to turn a aldehyde into a ketone.  They just don't.  And maybe they just need a chance to write. 

So, how does a fifteen year old who loves to write hate the entire system? What classes are being offered at his school? Is there creative writing? I mean there has to be some part of the day where his love of writing shines through and breaks apart the grey clouds. Doesn't there?  I kept expecting some part of his main character's day at school to be positive, but it wasn't.  It was a series of one bad event after another.  Angry administrators and abusive teachers.  And hallways filled with bullies.

He loves to write, but doesn't like school.  Hunh? No comprende! Me gusta escribe! Por favor, let him write.  Just for fifteen minutes.  It will change the way he looks at his day.  It will change the way he looks at teachers and administrators.  Most importantly, it will change the way we look at students. 

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