Vail Daily letter: Negative assumptions
Ryan Summerlin September 12, 2013
When I saw Julia Kozusko’s column titled “How to improve this school year for your children” in Sept. 10’s Vail Daily, I was expecting to read a column with positive, informative advice to parents. As a teacher in a local school, I am always interested in encouraging parents and helping children get the most out of their education. I was disappointed, however, to read the negative comments and assumptions Ms. Kozusko presents as the typical school experience.
While she made some good points regarding multiple intelligences and the unique, individual ways in which children develop, her comparison of school to boring meetings, her assertion that “many children are happy that the school day has ended,” and her characterization of children as “frequently struggling with new learning concepts” is most unhelpful and hardly qualifies as advice for improving children’s school year!
The vast majority of children who attend my school are happy, successful, engaged learners. It is true that Colorado and much of the nation has become concerned with America’s world ranking in education. People expect more rigor from school curriculum, and districts across the country are asking more of our children. Eagle County curriculum’s focus on higher-level thinking is one example of this trend. It’s not perfect, but it is in line with what the citizens of our country are asking for when they demand higher achievement and more accountability.
Trivializing the main purpose of school by saying that “spending time with friends is probably what gets them to school” and that school is “a difficult place for most children, (and) what makes it bearable and sometimes even fun is that there are … friends there” flies in the face of what people (including most parents) say they want from their schools. As Ms. Kozusko points out, social development is only one of eight types of development, and certainly should not be the main focus of a child’s educational experience.
The game has certainly changed from decades past, but to characterize school with blanket statements stereotyping students as sitting in “uncomfortable chairs all day long,” “standing in many lines,” and being characterized (presumably by their teachers) as “unmotivated or lazy” is an insult to the many hard-working, dedicated educators who work long hours to create an inviting, meaningful experience for children each and every day. Yes, there will always be a few kids for whom school just doesn’t go well, but the ideas Ms. Kozusko gleaned from the book “The Pressured Child” seem designed to tear down parents, students and teachers and feed into tired, old stereotypes.
I hope Ms. Kozusko chooses to use a different source than Michael Thompson and his so-called “powerfully helpful” book to write another article that truly focuses on working with the school system to improve our children’s school year and less on inventing solutions to problems most children seldom face.