Esquith was a teacher in California. He took a non-traditional approach, sponsoring chess clubs and most notably conducting after school Shakespearean theater groups. For the purpose of this book, Esquith relates a time when he took his class on a trip to a professional baseball game.
It seems that we live in a "bottom line" society, where the final score or final grade is all that matters. Exceptional children grow to understand that the journey is everything. It's wonderful to get an A on an exam, but even better to reflect on the studying and learning that led up to the grade. It's exciting to perform a play or concert and hear the cheers from a live audience, but extraordinary children know that the thousands of hours spent rehearsing are actually more meaningful and joyous than the performance itself.
These days, many well-meaning school districts bring together teachers, coaches, curriculum supervisors, and a cast of thousands to determine what skills your child needs to be successful. Once these "standards" have been established, pacing plans are then drawn up to make sure that each particular skill is taught at the same rate and in the same way to all children. This is, of course, absurd. It gets even worse when one considers the very real fact that nothing of value is learned permanently by a child in a day or two.
Education gurus, in this manner, talk out of both sides of their mouths. While requiring teachers to rigidly apply lessons, they tout the need for project-based, open-ended, STEM-focused, differentiated instruction. Why is there often no balance in the situation? Only by empowering teachers and students at the forefront - by allowing teachers and students to exercise local control over their instruction and learning - will they truly dream and innovate. If we want our students to think independently and solve their own problems, we must not continue to subscribe to outdated methods of pinning teachers to scripts and common assessments just for the sake of comparing and contrasting students. In the interest of standardizing content and schedules, we undermine every attempt at personality and relationships, and we add stress to an already stressful group of professionals.
Let us do the things that are best for our kids, rather than the things that are best for the spreadsheet.