Incoming kindergarten students have already been pushed into cutthroat competition against their peers. The coveted trophy is a spot in one of Chicago’s 500 allocated slots for classes for the “gifted.” There are more than 3,330 entries so far, and parents are fighting with all their resources and ingenuity to give their own kid an advantage in this Darwinian survival challenge.
They are coaching their kids themselves and those who can afford it have engaged professional tutors to plant test-acing strategies in their kids’ minds. They are racing to figure out how to crack the secrets of the test so that their kid beats the next guy’s kid to the fast track.
The training centers are commonly referred to as “boot camps.”
This story, reported recently in the Chicago Tribune, provides a perfect example of the pathological role that testing is playing these days. Not only does it substitute for curriculum, it also spoils and supplants the beautiful innocence of childhood.
The natural talents of children will not necessarily win out over the effects of dull but efficient gaming of the system. Anyway, most of the great men and women in all fields and generations around the globe probably, judging from their biographies, would not have been accepted into these programs. The nature of creativity and genius is too elusive, unpredictable, and unidentifiable at this pre-tender age. That’s even true of the nature of ordinary worldly competence.
It’s bad enough that kids no longer are taught to think critically but rather have hammered into them insipid “right” responses necessary to get them selves an admission ticket and, in some situations, bonuses for CEOs.
How absurd that such young children need to be exploited to make a political statement in veneration of the benefits of testing.