This is ridiculous (h/t Iowahawk).
Eccentric children — including those on the autism spectrum — often have unique academic abilities. But today’s teaching philosophies are making hard for them to shine.
Children have long been graded not just for academics, but also for elements of “character” — particularly behavior and emotional maturity. However, in the last few decades, socially eccentric children have seen their awkwardness or aloofness factored into their grades in math, language arts, and social studies.
This sort of thing isn’t limited to American schools, but it is one example of how schools have become worth little by taking the emphasis off of academics.
Reading that article brought back a lot of memories from elementary and high school (there was no middle school where I went to school). I hated working in groups, which is something I had to do quite often. I have always worked better on my own than I have with other people. I never had to do anything like analyze that “citizenship skills” assignment, and I’m very glad I didn’t have to, because I have no idea what is supposed to be going on there, even now that I am 21 (and I don’t even have actual autism).
I can also remember always having to do presentations. I speak quietly and my voice is very monotonous. I have difficulty projecting it across a room. I’m just not good at standing in front of a room of people and saying things. So, I lost a lot of marks on my presentations, even though I generally did well on the content part.
Take a look at that rubric in that article. I don’t remember there being such a large emphasis placed on presentation, but that is supposedly something that is popular for science presentations. The content is worth 35 points, while the presentation is worth 50 points. But look at how the content is broken down; only 10 points for the presentation containing (which they spell wrong, by the way) scientifically accurate material. That should be the main focus of a science presentation, but, no it’s only worth 10%. So, if not the actual content, what else makes up the content? Well, an “obvious conclusion” is worth 10 points “attention-getting indroduction that establishes the speaker’s credibility” is 5 points. Yes, because “attention-getting introductions” are so important to science. Then there is 10 points for having your scientific terms be “appropriate for the target audience” (so I guess students with advanced vocabularies are punished for having advanced vocabularies. That’s just brilliant).
As for the actual presentation, students are punished for not maintaining eye contact with the audience, for not speaking loudly enough that people in the back in the room can clearly hear it, and for not maintaining good posture. Again, that is what science is all about. And the presentation must also be “artistically pleasing.” So, this is apparently an art class as well.
In summary, using this particular rubric, which is apparently popular, only ten percent of the mark on a science presentation actually has to do with the content of the report. The other 90 percent is at best tangential to the material, even though most of it is completely irrelevant.
While I had trouble on presentations, it usually didn’t have that drastic of an effect on my marks in science or social studies. However, I didn’t need presentations to depress the marks I got in English. I was awful at that class. Well, I was good at the grammar part, but not literary analysis (or worse, analysis of poetry). Allegory is almost incomprehensible to someone like me (not all people with Asperger’s are the same, but I have to figure this characteristic is at least representative of a significant portion of people with Asperger’s). Considering I was destined to pursue a science-related career even in high school, it is absurd that someone like me would even have to do anything like that to graduate. What does that have to do with science? Nothing. You might say it facilitates critical thinking skills, or something, but it doesn’t. Critical thinking involves logic, but, unless there is some sort of obscure neurosceintific explanation, analyzing allegory in literature or poetry (or a painting or something) doesn’t involve logic. It is an emotional (or “intuitive”) form of analysis. So, it doesn’t have anything to do with science. In fact, it doesn’t have anything to do with the vast majority of careers.
And the entire subjects of phys. ed. and all art-related subjects can probably be dropped from the curriculum. I mean, they are fine as electives, but shouldn’t be required (if I was bad at English, I was absolutely abysmal at art. I have the artistic ability of a box. I was fortunate that I never had to take in high school because I had the option of joining the band instead, which I enjoyed even though I’m not musically skilled either).
And now that I’ve talked about things that shouldn’t be part of curricula, I will talk about things that should be on them. First of all, subjects in general could stand to be more challenging (elementary and secondary education are so easy that college or university comes as a shock). I also think accounting and economics should be mandatory. And there is one branch of science that has become incredibly important, but isn’t well integrated into curricula (at least not where I went to school), and that is computer science.
Education, particularly in the United States, but also elsewhere, has become a farce. I don’t see what is so terrible about expecting students to do straightforward math problems, write straightforward reports (without having to present them) just to demonstrate that their knowledge of a subject is adequate, and writing straightforward exams. Education is about academics, not about developing social skills (which isn’t needed by socially adept students and which doesn’t help socially inept students). And this is one flaw education systems have. Don’t get me started on the left-wing indoctrination, inept teachers whose jobs are protected because of unions, all the wasted funding that goes into education, or general dismal efficacy (but I’m sure this has something to do with that) (h/t Amy Mousepants).