By Smokey Briggs
Henry Ford and the
enhanced education debate
Not all ideas are good.
That sounds like common sense, and it is.
But determining whether an idea or concept is good is not always easy.
Usually my gut is a pretty good judge of an idea - whether or not I can state the particular whys and why-nots.
Sometimes, though, I want an argument that is a little more persuasive than ďmy gut.Ē
One test of an idea that I have come to respect is that of extending an idea to its logical conclusion.
Good ideas hold up under this test. Bad ones do not.
The reasons behind eliminating the enhanced education program is that it labels one group of kids as ďsmart,Ē which is ďbad,Ē and that the kids-formerly-labeled-as-kids will be pushed just as fast and far as they would have been in an enhanced classroom.
The idea is that the teacher will modify his or her teaching for each child and the kids that need to be pushed faster will be while the kids moving slower will not be left behind.
So instead of having a group of kids with similar abilities, motivation and maturity, the teacher will have an entire cross-section of kids to cater to.
Obviously good teachers do this to some degree. No two children are exactly alike.
On the other hand, common sense says that the less of this a teacher has to do in a classroom the more efficient the class room will be and the more effectively the teacher will be able to convey knowledge to the kiddos.
The logical basis of the lets-get-rid-of-the-enhanced-program crowd is that we donít need to divide kids up by ability - the teacher can simply modify the lessons for each kid.
That sounds great in theory.
It sounds stupid when you extend the idea to its logical conclusion. The logical end is that we do not need to divide kids up by ability - period.
If dividing kids by ability is bad, why do we have grade levels?
If dividing kids by ability is bad, why donít we just stir the pot each year and give each teacher 22 kids, ages 5 to 18 and call it good?
Each teacher could then modify her lesson plans according to the individual needs of each student and they would all be better off than if they had been ďgrouped and labeledĒ into arbitrary grades.
Of course that is exactly what frontier families did.
Why? Because they could not afford more teachers.
Henry Ford put America on wheels by making automobile assembly more efficient. He took the process from a one-room schoolhouse operation and added grades and all kinds of divisions of labor.
If he were in charge of our schools he would be dividing kids into grades, and then further dividing those grades by ability.
Because it is efficient and efficiency breeds success - not just for the kids-formerly-known-as-enhanced, but for all the kids.
If a teacher has a group of kids of similar abilities his or her time will be more efficiently spent and those kids will learn more than if the teacher has to deal with a wide range of talents and abilities.
The final goal here is for all these kids to get a good education. Lumping them into a classroom with no regard to ability will diminish each childís chance to get that good education.
It is illogical. It defies common sense. And it would make Mr. Ford cry.
Thursday is election day in the current school board race. David Flores has promised to revive the enhanced program if he is elected. Billie Sadler voted to kill the program.
I already cast my vote for Flores and the enhanced program.
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York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
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