Some students do not like school because it represents an attack on their senses of self worth, value, and dignity.
Schools are not knowingly designed to attack these senses, but the attacks do happen – unknowingly.
And it is the “unknowingly” that is the most difficult to recognize and remedy because it is, well, unknown.
The attack happens at the foundational level of what, in part, it means to be a human being. All people have a built-in need to belong. And when that need is assaulted, it hurts and it can negatively impact one’s sense of self worth, value, and dignity.
For example, high schools have a one-size-fits-all curriculum. Yes, there are some options along the way, but there is a core curriculum that all students take. And some students, like those in the top 10% of their graduating class, thrive in that environment.
And some students, say those in the bottom 50% of their graduating class, do not do as well.
These students receive occasional A’s, some B’s and lots of C’s, D’s and F’s for their work. The message isn’t intended, but that doesn’t diminish its reality: We don’t fit in like the kids in the top 10% – they are celebrated, we are not. They belong, we don’t.
And it hurts to be in an environment that, on the one hand, you are compelled by law to attend, and on the other hand, you feel as if you do not belong.
It is efficient to design a one-size-fits-all public education system, but it’s not effective. It’s less expensive to design a one-size-fits-all public education system, but it’s not the best use of funds to do so.
Try as one might to make a one-size-fits-all public education system work, it will still fail many of our children, because our students, yesterday, today and tomorrow, are not identical cogs in a societal machine. Our students are uniquely gifted and talented human beings who crave recognition as such and deserve schooling where they can experience a sense of belonging.