To the Editor:
The current emphasis in high school reform consistently disregards the fact that not all students want or need a college education (“If College Is the Answer, What Are the Questions?,” Commentary, June 22, 2005). Colleges deserve students who are academically talented. To suggest that all students fit that description is like saying that anyone can run the 100-yard dash in under 10 seconds if he or she just tries harder and has better coaches.
Some people are more talented with their hands than with words. Why is that so difficult to understand or accept? Some people, moreover, do not care if they are rich. That too is difficult for academic elitists to grasp. Whatever happened to educators’ believing in individual differences? Too many today are focusing on improving academic-achievement levels as a way to promote learning, instead of identifying individual learning styles and aptitudes.
It may be true that better identifying students’ learning rates, talents, cultural differences, and other emotional and maturation factors is difficult when dealing with large school populations, but there really is no easy way.
Using academic-achievement tests as a motivation for learning shortchanges our students by distorting what learning is all about. Good teachers and good parents have known for generations that only by looking at the whole child can they truly help that individual grow and learn. Too many administrators, legislators, and business leaders these days think they know better.
School Justice Institute
Pacific Palisades, Calif.