Stupidity in Education

The seventeen-year-old, high school senior spoke with a heavy French accent that did nothing to diminish her poise and confidence. She spoke before a large group of assorted professionals. Her presentation at the podium detailed school life in her rural village in France.  Her name was Nicole, and she was not a stuper (short, once again, for a prominently stupid person). Nicole attended an American public high school for her senior year, as an exchange student.

After her talk, an audience member asked what she thought of going to an American school.

“Oh, it’s so easy!” Nicole explained. “Here, it is very short. There are many breaks and P.E. We have no P.E. in my village school.”

She was asked what school in France was like.

“I go from eight to five with no breaks. All we do is learn.”

Then she was asked what college she will go to when she returns to France.

“I will not go to college when I return. In France, we do not recognize this year I take here. I must retake in my village school.”

Okay. Are so-called educators training high school students in some of our nation’s schools for stuperhood?

Meanwhile, my local public high school has declared a holiday this coming Monday. Why? For a special teachers’ meeting. You know. The one they have once a month or so. Where they walk around campus in circles, patting themselves on the back. Back patting is a heavily indulged-in stuper activity.

For the past few years, students, 10th grade and up, at this high school typically end the majority of their days at noon. But I don’t have cause to complain as I’ve not had any children attend this educational institution. Instead I’d like to point my finger toward an exemplary teacher and what it takes to train our students to think.

Many years ago I read of an educator, Mrs. Prentiss, who taught at a public elementary school in a lower income section of New York. Kids had trouble making it past eighth grade, and if they did, the high school drop-out rate was high. Mrs. Prentiss singlehandedly wrangled with city and school officials to upgrade the curriculum to one used by a small private school in Baltimore. She was successful.

The makeup of the school dramatically changed as students, once regarded as stupers, began to shine. Students willingly spent more time on campus because they were eager to learn. Many soon started reading at two grades above their class. Gradually, one hundred percent of these once considered hopeless students finished high school and many continued on to college.

Idiots tend to perpetuate stupidity. Little to no effort is made to change things, as the mere thought (if it were to occur) of doing so is exhausting. Hence, they walk around in circles.

To ensure we do not fall in with the stupid among us, we must make an effort in whatever we do, to give it our very best. Generally, our best happens if we just take the time to carefully think.

No problem can withstand the assault of sustained thinking.  ~ Voltaire


6 Responses to “Stupidity in Education”

  1. Suzie says:

    We let them get away with not working and always complaining
    not enough money and too much work. What work? They give students so much home work to bring home and do it. They should help them at school to do it. That is what they do in Europe and Asia. They don’t even get as much money.
    So we are the stupers.

  2. Onedia says:

    Keli, We hosted 3 exchange students so far from Hungary, Switzerland (German speaking Canton) and Tajikistan. All had to take an extra year of school when returning home. Our daughter, Lydia, did an exchange year in Epinal, France in eastern France. She completed all her graduation requirements at the end of her junior year and did her senior year there. Otherwise, she would have taken an extra year to graduate. The exchange year does not count in most cases .

    The students who came here did not work as hard as they did in their own country and took courses they would never have been offered at home. Two were absolutely brilliant. One struggled with English (the Hungarian) and math. The Swiss and Tajik each spoke multiple languages including English beautifully.

    Lydia had a rigorous senior year and her English course was the most difficult she had ever because it was very technical. She went to school half days on Saturday and sat for one of the Baccalaureate exams. (She was not a senior in her French school).

    I cannot recommend highly enough an exchange experience for American families and for American high school students. They are rewarding and eye-opening and good for the global perspective. It trickles out from both sides and serves the world well.

    We will host again but not until we are not surrounded by stupes.


  3. Ferd says:

    It’s been a long time now, but my college educational experience wasn’t much better. Expectations were low, and dropout rates high. If a person wasn’t very self motivated, it would have been easy to drop out or to get a mediocre education. I wonder if things have changed much. And yet the cost is astronomical.

    We do not value learning as much in this country as it is valued in others. But at least nerds are for some reason starting to get some respect. There’s hope for me yet! : )

  4. Aja says:

    In my early 20s my parents took in foreign exchange students to expand our knowledge about other cultures. Two young students from Taiwan stand out in my mind. They, like this French girl attended school 5 days a week from 8-5. While they stayed with us, school was over at 3 pm.

    This was the first time in their lives that they had free time. Sadly they did not know what to do, they had no hobbies or interests. When we would come home from work we would find the house a mess and see them jumping on the furniture.

    We need to find a balance between school, work, and play. Otherwise the outcome could become disastrous.

  5. Keli says:

    Yes, we are the stupers. If only I could rule the world…
    Well, thank you for clarifying that it’s not only France that believe the US doesn’t properly educate their children. It’s disheartening. Too late for my kids, but if I should have any more…
    Wise words, as usual, my friend. Yes, nerds are very cool today. I see a bright future ahead for you!
    Balance would be wonderful, wouldn’t it?

  6. Jenny says:

    Yep. Nothing is to be gained by talking down to anyone at any stage in their life. Our conversation (like your blog, Keli) should elevate the thoughts of the listener (or reader)! And a great deal should be expected of students. They should be made to read and write for two to four hours a day! And practice their penmanship! If I had my four to raise over again, I would demand more of them. If any of them read this, they would faint!

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