English: Albert Einstein Français : portrait d’Albert Einstein (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
My Taylor Wilson post has started to make me wonder. Taylor is a young man who recently graduated from highschool. During his highschool years he built a nuclear fusion reactor in his parents garage. Clearly he is a genius.
When I was in highschool, there was a genius in our class. Frank was a tall big-boned, heavy-set kid. The toughs would give him verbal shots, but nothing physical. One good smack in the head from Frank and the big mouth would have been out cold.
Not that Frank would ever stoop to violence. The toughs did not want to push their luck and find out. It also turned out that Frank was a wrestling fan and when the gym teacher started to teach wrestling, Frank was undefeated. For some reason, after seeing a display of Frank’s wrestling skills the toughs never bothered him again.
I think it was in Grade 11, Frank was not to be seen in school. A year of two later I was in a Beer Store and yes there was Frank behind the counter. We spoke briefly. He seemed to be embarrassed. I found out that an accident had happened to Frank’s Dad and he had to quickly become the bread earner of the family. Any thoughts of him going to University were gone.
That got me thinking about my sibling’s kids. I believe that each of them is a genius. Sure I’m biased, but that does not diminish the fact that they are extremely intelligent. Their parents wanted them to attend a certain highschool, which had a unique program. Unfortunately, kids get dumped into schools within a small and specific geographic area near their place of residence. That school was past the boundary line.
Why should your kid be limited to the highschools in his or her area, near their home? What about the really smart kids in the high welfare parts of town? Too bad for them, as some bureaucrat would prevent them from attending a highschool in a far better part of town.
I won’t beat around the bush. Teachers teach so as to bring every kid in their class along. They do not teach to challenge the really smart kids to further develop their genius. In a poor part of town, the kids do not have the resources at home that wealthier kids have. The teachers are stuck trying not to leave any kid too far behind.
I am not being prejudiced. I know all about prejudice and have a nice lump on the top of my head from being slammed into a brick wall by some white Anglo-Saxon kid, all because I was the kid of a very recent Canadian immigrant. It may been long ago, but that lesson about prejudice was never forgotten.
Just because someone was unfortunate enough to be born into a very poor family, does not mean that they are not intelligent. Intelligent poor kids should be given the same opportunity that less smart kids, from far wealthier families, get.
Highschools should be organized into two levels. The levels would be defined by grade requirements. The lower level would remain as it is presently. The higher level would be for the kids with the highest grades. Yes kids from wealthy family have better support systems at home. They could get private tutoring. The key is that if a smart kid from a poor family can get the high grades, they should be given the opportunity to expand their knowledge and grow their genius by attending the higher level highschools.
In my highschool classes, you had one or two kids who in hindsight were clearly at a superior intelligence level. For instance, Frank no doubt was. Unfortunately he was stuck in classrooms full of other kids (like me) who were far less smart and some who never developed any ambition to better themselves. There were also one or two, whose claim to fame was their ability to easily procure drugs, sell drugs and get high during lunch.
As a society we should be nurturing our most vital resource. If the smart kid’s grades were to allow them to go from say Scarborough to a highschool in Thornhill, we should help and encourage that. If the kids parents do not have the funds, then the City should provide free Metro Passes for public transit.
That leads me to University. Yes is it rather more democratic on the surface. You get the marks and you may get accepted. Of course kids from wealthy families spent years at private highschools. The kids in the high welfare parts of Toronto were not so blessed and yet some of those poor kids could be far more intelligent.
Finally the cost of University. Very smart kids should be given free university educations. Does not matter if the kid is from a rich family or a poor family. The benefit of leveling the playing field by using grades is that poor kids would be in contact with wealth kids. Those networking personal connections will come into play after they leave University.
At present wealthy kids know other wealthy kids. Poor kids know other poor kids. Never the twain shall meet.
Franks’ story is sad. We, as a society, lost out on the things that he could have accomplished and created. We as a society should have been there to help in his family’s situation and helped him to go to university. He would have ended up being a very high wage earner and his taxes would have paid back the help that society “could” have given him – but didn’t.
Intelligent young people can change our world, if we give them the chance. I really believe that as a society we have to rethink the school system, especially highschool and university. Let smart kids focus on improving their grades instead of worrying about getting summer jobs to help pay for course books and their student loans.
An extremely high percentage of Chinese students, complete at least a college level of education. That is per a TED speech which was given by a self-made Chinese Billionaire Ms. Yang Lan. How many kids in the West are permitted to drop out of highschool? If we are planning to compete with China, then we have to stop disgarding our young minds and start nurturing them.
We as a society, can no longer afford yet another Frank to fall thru the cracks and not develop their great minds and full potential. We can no longer afford to have poor, but very intelligent kids stuck in schools where they will never be challenged to grow their minds and their potential. We can no longer afford to have a great mind not be able to attend university due to circumstances beyond their control or the lack of funds.
We as a society can help and should help. Our combined future depends on it.