Read every other chapter in Ernest Hemingway’s book, The Sun Also Rises. That was an assignment in a high school English class. I began to read every chapter but wondered if I should stop and follow directions. What made the teacher think that an average high school student could not or should not be able to read a novel written in the straightforward language that Hemingway used? When did the educational system begin doubting the ability of American students?
High school history class – draw a map of the mainland United States freehand. I studied maps as a kid for fun. I found interesting, exotic sounding places on maps and globes for years. I drew the familiar outline carefully along with the states and got a B. Sloppier drawings were given A’s. Later the teacher said that anyone with a good drawing got a B since it was obviously traced. It took a few minutes to realize that I was one of the people she doubted. A high school student is not capable of understanding the proportions of a map.
In a bookstore, I overheard a woman asking for an audio version of The House of Seven Gables. The novel was assigned to her daughter to read in school. The mother said that no one could possibly comprehend this book and an audio version is the only possibility. Her daughter was standing right next to her as she said this. It made me sad.
Teachers have expected too little from their students for decades. Parents, a product of this watered-down educational system, deny their children’s abilities. Lay out the challenges and demand achievements. Children are being cheated.