Thursday, November 26, 2009
If I Were King of The Forest:
Free! Not dependent on a group, but free to progress as an Individual; that’s what the King is. Not so for the rest of us? Why should we be sheep, or mice, or myna birds? Why should we be flocked, herded, given roosts, rooks, caves, clans, classes, phylum, and labels? So what if the elephant does better at football, the giraffe plays the musical instruments, the mice control the computers? After all, the mice on the football field are jeered at, the elephants in the music room are too cumbersome, and the giraffes do not always make the best basketball players. Yet in the education system that makes up this jungle of ours, we take giraffe, elephant, mouse, and the orang-utan for that matter, and put them all on particularized playing fields for the same amount of time, blowing referee bell for blasted bell, with only the respondent’s relative age as the real qualifier for being in the grouping, grade by grade.
But Penelope the possum really lives in a rarefied existence, except when in the jungle of the curriculum. She conceptually can get quadratic equations within minutes; Billy the goat simply couldn’t care for them. Billy the goat, however, gobbles up art supplies, Penelope possum doesn’t enjoy those. But both babies were placed in an age-relative grade, under the same canopy of the cellular curriculum, dictated to by the Curriculum King’s time-worn expectations. Time is the real problem. Possum or Goat, both must stay in the same field until the King passes them by Exit upon Examination. And not only is there a possum or a goat in their field, there are roughly 30-plus other types of creatures too. All must graze on the same “essential” fodder, for the same amount of time periods, fed-up or not.
If I were King of the forest I’d change things. I’d have me a gathering of all stakeholders and I’d lay down the following proposal. “From this day forth,” I’d say, “we attend to the individual. We differentiate. We devise units whereby we can accelerate, telescope, harbour, or invigorate, but we ensure that each one of us is provided for as is proven by our productivity.”
“Sounds like animal farm,” I can hear someone cackle. “The Devil’s in the details,” I hear another demur. “Wake up! Who’s paying?” I hear the rooster crow.
“Well, you’re right,” I purr. And I leave it to them to sort out how the committees and subcommittees will see to it that we no longer have cells of time in which cells of learners are constricted to cells of the curriculum toward sitting in cells of exams for cells of marks leading toward cells of graduation. I trust that a unit of productivity, or of achievement if you will, will determine that any given one of us may progress to the next level irrespective of our age, type, group, or sub-group. In fact, I trust that each of us, given truly individual attention, may truly become better citizens of and for the whole.
Then again, given the resultant responsibility, thank goodness I’m not the King!