“How is it that little children are so intelligent and men so stupid? It must be education that does it”. (Alexandre Dumas)
The above quote may be passed over as just some witty comment, but on closer examination it may reveal a great deal of truth. After a lot of personal observation, much discussion with parents and some serious research, I have noticed that there is what I call a ‘pattern of intelligence’ that occurs in the childhood of many. It goes like this. Many adults who spend time around little children from roughly ages three to six are amazed at the children’s level intelligence (whatever yardstick the adults use). You often hear it said, “Wow! She sure is smart; she just used that complex word in the correct context, blah, blah, blah…” Within a couple years, however, that same child is now presenting the adults with ‘developmental challenges’ such as she won’t do her home work; forgotten things she has just learnt; and the list goes on… ‘So-called professionals’ discount the parents’ prior amazement at the child’s intelligence as just an ‘everybody thinks their children are geniuses’ phenomena and conclude that the child really has learning problems, etc.
Personally, I don’t think so. What if the child’s normal inquistive intelligence, which is as unique to each child as her retinae blood vessels or her fingerprints, was ‘beaten’ (I don’t mean physically) out of her by some system. A system which we all know has flaws, but which we perpetuate because it’s the only way we know. Let me draw analogy at this point. It was only until the 1990s that it was accepted that the majority of stomach ulcers are caused by a bacterium. The scientists discovering this were for years ridiculed by their peers before it was gradually accepted, even though the proof was in front the faces of their peers. One of the lead scientists doing the research actually drank a cocktail with the cultured bacteria; gave himself a stomach ulcer; then remedied it with anti-biotics; and still, his colleagues would not believe him. Hey, you remember when the earth was flat? The analogy is instrumental in the understanding of what is happening to our children, and by extension, our society. Are we just going to go with the flow, because we can’t see a direct way to fix it, ‘steups’, throw up our hands and capitulate? Are we going to take the path of least resistance and let our child’s intelligence be subject to the onslaught of our ignorance? Look at the Parliament Channel and see what we have as a result of that apathy.
I believe God created us not only to help those who cannot help themselves, but also to wonder at his creation; to marvel at it; try to explain it; and to unlock its secrets – this cannot be achieved by forced curricula, no matter how well intentioned. Unfortunately, many of us are caught between ‘a rock and a hard place’ as the Americans say. We sigh and then try to convince ourselves that it’s okay. We say, “Well we survived it, so it can’t be that bad, and we’re doing pretty OK”. Are we really?