“Our” Julia has a rich vein to mine of human folly in the PC line. I’d like to direct her to Randy Cassingham’s This is True, which you can get emailed to you regularly.
Here’s an example:
Tyler Weaver, 9, is the self-titled “king of the reading club” at the Hudson Halls, N.Y., Public Library. He’s won the annual “Dig Into Reading” event for the last five years.
His reign was threatened, however, when the library’s director, Marie Gandron, declared Weaver “hogs” the contest every year and he should “step aside.” Gandron claims that “Other kids quit because they can’t keep up,” and announced plans to change the contest to choose a name at random from all the participants to select the winner.
One library aide, Lita Casey, disagreed, and called the library’s board to complain. “My feeling is you work, you get it. That’s just the way it is in anything. My granddaughter started working on track in grade school and ended up being a national champ. Should she have backed off and said, ‘No, somebody else should win?’”
Gandron and Casey were both fired soon after the incident, but Weaver will have to settle for four years of victory.
“There was a flyer in the library congratulating everyone on the summer reading program,” the boy said. “It had all the readers listed, but it didn’t say who won.” (MS/Glens Falls Post-Star)
And Cassingham adds:
…And thus the push of our students toward mediocrity expands.
At my place, I asked whether it is stupidity or “unused intellect” which is behind such things but clearly it’s also narrative. This sort of thing about not letting one child win all the time I had to put up with at school. I recall battles royal with the other pointy head in the class for the top spot and we did tend to hog the limelight.
Then things changed, became more matriarchal [or nannying if we prefer to be politically correct in our terms]. Now, whenever the hand shot up in class, we’d be ignored and some other kid was made to speak up, which was most frustrating because about four or five of us had the answer, it was bleedin’ obvious and here was this kid being forced to answer and he simply didn’t know.
I can’t see why the natural order of things can’t be allowed to prevail. A teacher can structure a lesson such that it didn’t require this hands in the air thing and the kid can “discover” the answer for himself as part of the materials – this is just basic teaching practice. And kids do get a buzz out of “discovering” the answer. The inverted commas are because of course it’s structured.
But there are things he or she is good at outside of class and any good teacher elicits and encourages the kid to speak of them outside and then tries to get him to give a little talk on them or else does it as a topic, knowing the kid will like the topic and be an expert.
There are ways, in other words. It doesn’t require exclusion in order to include. It doesn’t require the narrative. It requires the teacher, rather than being steeped in the “all must have prizes” narrative, to start using that unused intellect and go back to the good teaching manual of 1950.
But he can’t because he’s been through training college, headed by narrativists, school appointment boards are full of narrativists, the fellow teachers are now narrativists – it’s a vicious cycle towards, as Randy Cassingham says – mediocrity and I’d add the unused intellect.
And then there is OFSTED over here, dedicated to mediocrity and compliance.
Thank heavens for the Lita Caseys still but even there, it was only because of her son’s prowess that she acted and then was sacked for her trouble.