Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Elementary School Graduations?!?

As I recall, elementary school was two parts "Lord of the Flies" and one part kickball, where only the strong survive and the weak were crushed underfoot in the state of anarchy that reigned those days. Of course, I'm only talking about recess, because the classes themselves were pretty simple. There wasn't even much of a grading system--you did your assignment, you'd get a smiley face; you did it really well, you get a sticker! I swore then and there that if I ever were a college professor, I'd put stickers on blue books after grading them, just so the students remembered the good old days when everyone was a winner and you could do no wrong.

Basically, elementary school on an academic level is really about learning a few key things: basic math, how to read and write, and the most rudimentary understanding of our country's history. As long as you knew Columbus got here in 1492, you didn't need to know that he never landed on the North American continent, or that while he was voyaging for Spain, he was actually Italian. (You'd learn that quick enough chatting with the Italian kids in the class) That was pretty much it, and it took six years for them to teach you that. The learning part was pretty damn easy.

Which is why I don't really get the concept of elementary school graduations. Kids these days! We're far behind the Chinese, who by age 12 have already learned how to run a microchip factory, and are learning enough English to know how to order around American slaves that they'll take in about ten years. And yet, we're having these "feel good" celebrations for kids, who graduate off to . . . middle school? I mean, I get high school graduation--it means the end of the basic schooling required, and for many students that's the end of the line. College graduations for the next step. But elementary school graduations, really? What, are some of those kids going to become 12 year old carpenters and computer programmers? They grow up so fast these days!

I hope our Chinese masters are merciful.

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