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Kindergarten pre-game concerns July 10, 2007

Posted by Jeff in Education, Parenting.
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With our first kid merely weeks away from beginning kindergarten, I have begun to try to imagine what she is going to encounter in school.  Though I know she’ll do fine in school, both academically and socially, I have some concerns, mainly surrounding the things I have not seen over the last several years.  For example:

  1. I’m not close to a single other family that shares my views on education and the methods and importance thereof.
  2. Despite living and working in a highly-educated, tech-savvy, university town, I hear very little discussion among parents on topics related to academic achievement.
  3. When parents do talk about school, typically, the conversation is usually more centered on special programs, fundraisers, or athletic events that are peripheral to academics.
  4. Despite working at one of the largest technology employers in Austin for nearly ten years, I never personally saw a school representative inquire about things like field trips, guest lecturers, or career-focused curriculum development.  Note, we at the company did a tremendous amount of outreach and the schools were always happy to have it – I just never saw that initiative coming from the schools themselves.
  5. Few parents – even educated professionals – seem to place more than nominal value on knowledge.  In the past two days, I’ve had coworkers chide me (goodnaturedly, of course) for being able to divide 16 by 25 in my head and for using the word “née” in conversation. 
  6. I’ve never heard anyone outside of the school system express pride in their school being “Recognized” or “Exemplary” by the state.

It is not fair to our kids or to their teachers to go in to school thinking that it is not going to work, and I do not think this way.  I do think, though, that evidence of complacency and apathy of education shows in the priorities that people have.  When the most educated people I’m around on a day to day basis deprioritize academics, it makes me wonder what school will be like where a purer cross section of educational levels is represented.

For our soon-to-be-kindergartener, I don’t worry about the academic or social concepts she’ll learn in school – I worry about the opportunity cost of what she could be learning, but doesn’t, because the environment is one that either values education less than I do or prioritizes it lower than I do.

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