Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Education System with a capital 'S'

I don't hate it. It's the only way. If you have masses of children to 'educate', you have to design a system that will work most effectively and efficiently for the largest part of the population.

So, I'd guess that the traditional system works OK-to-great for about 80% of the population.

Now, what to do with the other 20%?

The general system will fail them. It has to. It is not designed for them. Statistically speaking.

Oh, there are PC nods towards the minorities, but they are so thinly spread. I doff my cap to the many wonderful special ed. teachers and learning support specialists, who are given maybe 4 hours per week per student to work miracles, and keep trying.

Let's take a hypothetical inclusive school. They have 100 students. Of those, 80 are catered for in 4 classrooms. Great. What happens to the other 20 students?

For the kid in the wheelchair, the school must build ramps and paths. For the one blind kid, railings along the paths, purchase expensive technology, deliver all resources in braille.
For the sole deaf kid, the media teacher has to re-write the assessment piece that had the students analyzing radio advertising.
For the gifted child, there will need to be university level maths courses taught, while not clashing with the timetable for her physical education classes.

Have I mentioned the dyslexic child, the autistic child, the ADHD child, the sensory child, the ... I'm nowhere near 20 unusual children, am I?

Has the school exhausted it's budget and teachers? Yes.

Does each of these 20 children need a truly individual education plan, with ample resources to implement it, to gain an equivalent education to the 80 who are able to (more-or-less) benefit from the 'system'. Yes.

Is it easier just to educate the majority, and treat the 20% as an acceptable number of failures for society?  I think that'd come under the heading of Risk Management Strategy.

I'm sure some will struggle through despite the system, and manage to develop some ability to contribute (albeit not to their full capability) and therefore the actual failure rate - those who are never able to function in society - will be lower.

Toss them to a sheltered workshop, or unskilled 'work', and don't worry about them. Pay the rest social security, and let their parents take the burden of caring.

I really do wonder if the cost of 12 years of intensive, individual education would be greater than the cost of 50 years of social security payments. Call it 'early intervention'. Or 'preventative education'.


  1. Yep, I've suggested the same thing - that early intervention is far cheaper and more effective than playing catch up for the following 25+ years.
    But what would we know, we're being too logical and sensible for those who sit in ivory towers!

  2. Ugh... I feel like we are at the beginning of a long and winding road, and all I want to do is turn around and run the other way.

    I do not accept that my child is invisible.

    I do not allow him to be ignored.

    Nor do I want him 'normalised'.

    So... Homeschool? Counter culture? Become a crazy raving cat lady...?

    Gah! My only inspiration is you guys. Thanks for being you, Lisa and Ro!


  3. This post is in fire! This is a good thing. Ditto Ro and Valerie. I need to share this one.