Jun 12, 2021 Editorial
Kaieteur News – Holding back high-fliers, so that strugglers can catch up can be interpreted to be visionary and noble. On the other hand, it is misguided and does more harm than good. One size does not fit all, since all cannot be scientists and doctors, or Carl Lewis and John Steinbeck. It makes little sense to slowdown the academically gifted, while compelling others to function above their heads.
Put differently, don’t put featherweights in the same ring with heavyweights. It is better to keep in their own respective weight divisions, in a bow to commonsense. If not, somebody will get crushed, even killed. This is relevant and has significance in sports, nature, business and, what is the main focus today, education.
When steps are deployed to favour minorities, it conveys that they are unable to compete strongly and fairly in the upper tiers of academics on their own, so handouts are necessary. It is called equity, levelling the playing field. But it is wrongheaded to hold back the talented, who could be difference-makers in possibly groundbreaking and cutting-edge technologies and expertise in numerous fields of endeavour. Why yoke a regular above average racehorse to a thoroughbred, such as a Secretariat, or the merely good to a Kevin Durant? Why shackle the latter two?
This was what sent parents over the edge in New York recently, as was reflected in the caption, “Parents rage as top NYC school plans to end advanced math programme” (New York Post June 8). As reported by the Post, when Lab Middle School for Collaborative Studies“announced that it was junking accelerated math classes”, parents lost it, in what they concluded was the dismantling of yet another plank of topnotch education.
Former Lab teacher Maggie Feurtado, who founded the programme roughly a decade ago before retiring this year, said she was “simply appalled” by the weekend announcement. “It’s like not allowing any kids in a daycare to walk until all of them learn to walk,” she said. “It doesn’t work. Advanced kids don’t want to belabour the same material. And the kids who need the extra attention won’t get what they need.”
Ms. Feurtado opined that, “Children have different interests and abilities and we should foster their individuality…we need to push them. The one-size-fits-all doesn’t work for middle schoolers and math in particular if we want to train the next generation of scientists.” We need to teach them to “get hungry” which was how many low-income immigrant children succeeded against the odds.
Some see it as insulting to both those being held back (deliberately) and those being spoon fed lesser academic fare, so that they can pass muster. Soon enough, there will be only the mediocrity of the barely good, as opposed to the outstanding, and exceptional, who can compete globally against all comers.
In the same vein, Columbia University linguist, John McWhorter, didn’t take too kindly to the removal of the requirement of “intermediate level Latin or Greek…” or that they will “even have to learn either language to receive a degree in the classics” (“The problem with dropping standards in the name of racial equality” The Atlantic June 7). He contends that this is a disservice to minority students, and we agree with this position. According to McWhorter, removing this language requirement as part of the “basis for countering white supremacy is gravely thin.” He sees this language elimination as a “one note clarion call that discourages anything but assent.” And that it also “leads to no further questions…and the unscholarly.”
McWhorter is both renowned linguist and Ivy League professor, and insists that this “disses” Black people like him, by talking down to him, through different condescending measures. Here he was specifically referring to an “anti-racism” book by Robin DiAngelo, titled “White Fragility”. In a May 2021 programme with Bill Maher, Professor McWhorter objected to what he believes “tiptoes around Black people” as though they are “so delicate” and, hence, in need of every consideration that can be given, despite surviving slavery, lynching, and Jim Crow.
Our position is that this levelling degrades some students. Such continual dumbing down of education is non-intuitive, renders aspiring societies non-competitive, and should be a nonstarter.
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