Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Wednesday with Words: The Myth of Ability

I just started reading The Myth of Ability: Nurturing Mathematical Talent in Every Child by John Mighton. The introduction started with a parable of education, and I thought I'd share it because it reminds me of several things I've been reading recently, both in Charlotte Mason's 20 Principles and in The Spark by Kristine Barnett.

"Imagine a school where the following ritual is observed. At the end of the year, after several days of coaching and preparation, the children are led to a cafeteria where tables have been set with plates of food, one for each child. A government official has inspected the plates; for a given grade each plate holds exactly the same foods, in the same proportions, at the same temperatures... Afterwards, the children are given a battery of tests to determine how well they are digesting their food.
"Now imagine that only those children judged to be superior eaters are allowed to eat a full and balanced diet at school the following year. The teachers at the school, though well-meaning, believe only a few children are born with the capacity to digest food properly; the rest, depending on what kind of stomach they've inherited, can eat only one or two kinds of food, and even then only in small quantities. When challenged to defend this belief, the teachers point to the vast number of weak and unhealthy students at the school: even those singled out for special attention continue to complain of stomach disorders when placed on restricted diets.
"One day people will look back on our present system of education as only slightly more rational or humane than this..." 
Mighton then focuses his attention on a solution for the state of math education in the school system. I am hoping it will be helpful for me as a homeschooler as well...

Sharing with Wednesdays with Words today. Click through to see what other people are reading this week!