from my mind to yours...

December 2005
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Filed under: Family
Posted by: site admin @ 9:39 am

It’s a sad day when people are teased for being smart. Attitudes like that are not only what enable other countries like India and China to catch up and pass us, but also are one reason why smarter kids tend to self segregate. These other kids should hope that they can establish relationships with the smarter kids as a way of improving themselves – it’s sad that not only do these kids not do this, but that their parents don’t appear to encourage them to do so.

The fact is that in today’s culture, intelligence isn’t valued in school. It is, however, valued in the marketplace. These “smarty pants” kids are the ones who will bring us the next Microsoft, Google, or Apple. Encouraging, enabling or even allowing any action that denigrates their potential is tantamount to shooting our society in the foot.

These kids are at Atheneum because they ARE different. The kids from out of district are there because they’ve already experienced the trauma of other schools. Having had those experiences, they have little incentive to interact with anyone who might revive those memories.

It is entirely likely that some (even many) Atheneum families/parents do not try to be part of the school “as a whole”. To me, and I suspect to others, Atheneum is “the whole school” as far as I’m concerned. The fact that Atheneum is housed in the same building as Salem Hills Elementary is a mere administrative convenience. That’s like saying I work in an office building that houses multiple companies. Just as I might make friends with people who work in my building but for a different company, so too my kids might interact with kids in Salem Hills proper. There is nothing inherently good OR bad about that – it just is.

When it comes to volunteer work, it would be a good idea to be careful about how complaints are made. Those who complain about where volunteer work is done may be forgetting that it is, as the name implies, VOLUNTARY. When people volunteer their time, they do so because they receive some psychic benefit in exchange. For many people, this psychic benefit comes from seeing a direct impact on those they love - in this case, their own kids. This is why, when parents volunteer, they tend to volunteer in the classrooms where their kids are. The statement that Atheneum parents should be volunteering for other duties is not only unnatural and ludicrous - it also hides the implied fact that the parents of the Salem Hills kids are apparently not volunteering enough to cover the needs of their kids. I suspect there would be no need for volunteers in Salem Hills proper if the parents of those kids volunteered at the same per capita ratio. It is not my responsibility to do for others what they refuse to do for themselves.

I too have volunteered my time, not just in this school but in every school that my kids have attended. When I am able to volunteer, in most situations I have chosen to spend my time working with my sons’ classrooms. That is no less (and no more) valuable to the school than running a booth for the spring carnival- which we attend and support every year. I resent the implication that classroom participation isn’t as valuable as other forms of volunteerism. BTW, I have also volunteered for other programs, Math Masters, DI, etc. And some of the things that I have offered to do, the school has simply declined to take advantage of. I assume by that there are plenty of people waiting in line to help out.

I must say I find the comment “the school and the teachers go to great lengths with the Atheneum kids to be inclusive with the rest of the school and not to segregate the kids” to be bizarre, untenable, and counterproductive. The fact is the Atheneum kids are physically segregated by classroom and educationally segregated by curriculum. And all of this is intentional. And rightly so. Segregation is not an inherently bad thing. We already segregate children by gender and age at school. In this case, segregation allows the kids in Salem Hills proper to excel without having to compete head to head with the Atheneum kids, who might easily trample them, and allows the Atheneum kids to compete with each other, thus sharpening themselves.

Does this make me an elitist? Hopefully. I encourage my children to wear the label “smarty pants” with pride. This label is a tacit acknowledgement that the labelled child strives to learn and apply that education - something that EVERY school should encourage. The label “elitist” implies that I want my child to travel in the best parts of society - something every parent should encourage.

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