So school around the Ozarks is back in session today. Which explains why his preschool had breakfast all cleaned up this morning. They stick to a pretty strict schedule when school is back in session.
But that got a conversation going this morning in the office with the parents. There is one person here that has a VERY gifted child. She skipped 1st grade last year. He rarely talks about her giftedness. Why? Well, he has a valid point. If his daughter was hitting home runs, people would say, "Wow! That's awesome. Good for her." But because it's academic, people just think of it as bragging. They roll their eyes. And I've seen the same thing when I tell people about Ethan. Now if I said, he's the best player on the team, people would react differently, but when I say, "He can tell you all about your heart, lungs, and bones," people look at me funny like I'm being overly boastful.
Why is is okay to brag about our children's sports accomplishments but not their academic accomplishments? Where does that leave the kids that may not be so good at sports but can tell you the name of every bone in your body? How does a parent explain to his or her child that while John Doe can brag all day long about that touchdown, he or she should probably not brag about winning the spelling bee?
I'm not pondering these things just because Ethan shows a high aptitude for academics. I'm also pondering them because I'm in the business of education, and it frightens me to think about what this tendency means for our society.
A few semesters ago, I took a class that discussed many of the same issues. And we talked about why people donate to schools. Particularly higher education. Look at the sports complexes of some of the big named schools. Arkansas for example. How much money do you think gets donated to the sports program there? Do you think the English department or Science department gets near the same amount? I don't know the numbers, but I could make an educated guess. And I make this educated guess because of the leaders we've had speak to our class that have schools with sports programs, they have them because it brings in donations. Granted, Hog football probably brings in the dough, but smaller schools, like Missouri State, are not making money on their sports programs. But they are bringing money in.
And have you ever been to a small-town football game? Football is a BIG deal in most small towns across America. Academics? Not so much. Don't get me wrong. I'm not against sports. Not at all. I want my boys to play sports. But I also want them to understand that only a small % can make a living out of sports and that academics is incredibility important. More important. In a time when we are seeing our country fall behind more and more countries academically, one would think we could shift our focus a bit. After all, don't we want to scientist that will create a cure for cancer? Or understand how to fight against biological warfare? Then we should probably encourage our kids to understand and embrace the pursuit of academics.