Monday, June 11, 2007

Miseducation of tomorrow's leaders

"The traditional subject areas have been hijacked to promote fashionable causes such as gender awareness, the environment and anti-racism, while teachers are expected to help to achieve the Government's social goals instead of imparting a body of academic knowledge to their students,"... snip

The above could have been written about US public schools. But, as we oft find ourselves parallel to our UK chums, this particular excerpt comes from a scathing column written by the Telegraph's Education Editor, Liz Lightfoot titled "'Political meddling' ruining learning in schools. Ms. Lightfoot's analysis comes based on a study called "The Corruption of the Curriculum".

Civitas casts doubt on the value of much of what children are now "taught". History has become so divorced from facts and chronology that pupils might learn the new "skills and perspectives" through a work of fiction, such as Lord of the Rings, it says.

Teenagers studying for GCSEs are being asked to write about the September 11 atrocities using Arab media reports and speeches from Osama bin Laden as sources without balancing material from America, it reveals.

In English, the drive for gender and race equality has led an exam board to produce a list of modern poems from around the world without a single poet from England or Wales being represented.

The new 21st-century science curriculum introduced last September substitutes debates on abortion, genetic engineering and the use of nuclear power for lab work and scientific inquiry, it says.

Contrast this decline in the effectiveness of both English and American schools with the latest National Spelling Bee contest where, not only the winner but a high percentage of the entrants, were home schooled.

Let's hear it for the home team -- they have done it again. Last month, 13-year old Evan O'Dorney of Danville won the National Spelling Bee; Evan is homeschooled. Of those who made it to the finals in Washington, 12.5 percent were homeschooled; of the top seven finishers, three were homeschooled. Last year, 13.5 percent of those making it to Washington for the Spelling Bee finals were homeschooled.

Evan is not alone as a high achieving homeschooled child. The 2003 and 2005 National Geography Bee champions were homeschooled. In 2005, a 16-year-old homeschooled child won the U.S. Chess Championship, making him the youngest player to claim the title since 14-year-old Bobby Fischer won it in 1958. And, they're athletic to boot; the 2005 girls Gatorade high school soccer player of the year was homeschooled. These results are from a sector that enrolls only a small percentage of America's children.

Enterprising American parents are finding ways around the flawed US public curriculum by taking control of their children's education with the home schooling model. It may be something the British should also embrace if they want to nurture their future leaders.

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