Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Olympics Mullings and Musings

Oh no! I have to wait four years before the next Summer Olympics?!

These Olympics have really got me thinking about the inequalities of our education system. Especially compared to the Chinese. Not that I think we should take kids away at 3 years old and place them in gymnastics programs...I don't.

But it got me thinking. What skills are going untapped? Who could have been a great athlete, musician, or scientist had they had the right opportunities?

Like Michael Phelps, my brother was proclaimed by school teachers to have a focus issue. But Michael Phelps had access to a pool program. There was nothing like that where we grew up.

My husband, growing up in California, had all kinds of programs we didn't. In public school, not only did his school have a regular band and a concert choir, he also got to participate in jazz band and a chamber music choir. Additionally, his school had a women's choir and a theater department! In public school! We had none of that in Louisiana. Today he is a composer and can play just about anything. I also think he had more exposure to science and math education than my siblings and I did.

When I was growing up, physical education was not fun. Not fun at all. P.E. was about meeting some standard, instead of starting where you are and working up. As an adult, I finally came to love exercise after battling my weight. I discovered that working out is fun and enjoyable, and have often wondered why they made it so combative and a chore in school. I regret all the years I wasted being sedentary. In middle age, I did a marathon and a half-marathon, and became a power yoga instructor. How might my life have been different if exercise had been made fun?

I remember in high school, the history teacher was a sports coach. His class was beyond dull. ZZZzzzzz. Then we got a temporary history teacher, someone doing their student teaching for their degree. He was really into history, and he made it come alive with stories. I looked forward to history class then, and never forgot that how material is presented makes a huge difference in education.

During the Olympics, I saw a news show about the difference between the education in math and science that the Chinese are getting, compared to our kids. I wish I could remember the stats to share with you. Suffice it to say, it was mind boggling. The MAJORITY of Chinese kids take physics, chemistry and calculus in regular school, as opposed to a very small minority of American kids. It's disheartening.

Michael Phelps is lucky there was a swim program where he lived, and that his mom enrolled him in it. Who knows where he would have wound up with out it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Just remember the winter Olympics are only two years a way in Vancouver. The last picture on my blog with all the cranes is the building of the Olympic Village. Stan